Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Respect and Kindness .. I am not your Halloween costume

My people were required to attend church run residential schools. I've been told stories of how they were beaten if they tried to speak Blackfoot.

I have been called a "Dirty Indian" more times that I would like to admit.

When I was 7, I was at the local playground with my younger brothers whom were 3 and 4 at the time. We were minding our own business being kids and playing with each other when these two older boys who were 8 and 9 said "Hey! Where is your whiskey?" When my mom picked me up I asked her, "what is whiskey?" When I told her what was said to me she was furious and went to the boys house and got upset with his mom, I remember being embarrassed and not really sure why.

Before moving to Newfoundland I grew up in Mormon town. One day my best friend wasn't in school and I asked these girls if I could play with them, they said "No, because my hair was too long, and my skin was too dark",

At that point in my life, I felt I wasn't enough, my skin was too dark, my hair too long, my eyes too brown ...

Children are sponges and soak up every word, every vision. Children look to people for how they should feel about themselves, of how they should feel about others. As a child I was taught I wasn't enough.

I didn't start being vocal about my views on racism or prejudice until after university. After I found a group of friends who loved me unconditionally, who thought I was smart, intelligent, funny and beautiful. I found a group of people who taught me to love myself for everything I am.

Just before Halloween I saw an advertisement for a costume. There was a witch, a fairy, and the last, a lady with a headdress on with a painted face and a headdress!

People's comments to me when I say people should not dress as First Nations are always "I need to adjust my attitude." "I need to be more fun and have a sense of humor."

People will say to me "I am friends with a First Nation, or my great, great grandmother was First Nation." Like it is supposed to make me feel better! Like because you have friends, or you're great grandmother was a First Nation that your feelings or more valid than mine.

It is my fault that I'm too sensitive and easily offend.

I should feel bad because of a tasteless advertising that targets my people, race, and culture.

Mocking another person's culture and race is not right. Kids see that. Kids hear that. We pretend that it is wrong to be culturally sensitive to people. We pretend that racism doesn't exist, because we don't want to take responsibility for encouraging negative stereotypes. We pretend that having FUN is more important than being kind.

These are my people.

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