Friday, May 6, 2011

What Native Men Need To Remember

Dan Waters is a snarky 22 year old queer biracial wonderment who is part White, Portuguese, and Native American (Wampanoag-Kiowa). He currently lives in Massachusetts, and plans to become a Lawyer. That is, if he can survive Algonquin language classes and polyamorous dating right now! He also identifies as Two Spirit, and prefers male pronouns, but cherishes his female body that he was given graciously by the Creator. He blogs at Identity Exposure.
 
As a Native man, I think it is imperative to be in solidarity with our women, and women in general. Women in general who have been oppressed by our oppressors (white men) are just as much victim, even if they may be spouting the racist bullshit they are learning from their oppressors. This is in no way limited to ciswomen*, either. Transwomen** are included in this.

When I see Native men use put downs on women, it is to build our own tattered self-esteem up. I understand, intimately, what it is like to keep trying shit, trying shit, get smacked down so you switch it up and trying shit, trying shit, and then get called a sell-out for doing white man ways or something, get smacked down again, and try shit. We either give up and kill ourselves (by suicide, drugs, or alcohol). We take it out on our women by beating them and/or raping them, or we take it out on our children, our future generation.

We have the lowest life expectancy of any other people in America. The main reason why is because of the means we use to try and cope with this self-esteem issue. One thing we cannot let ourselves use to cope with this are: drugs, alcohol, and demeaning women.When you call one woman a cunt, you are doing the same thing that white people do by calling our women “squaws”. When you try to put a woman in a position lower than you on your mental totem pole, you are committing an act of colonization onto them, especially on our own women. When you do these things, you are demeaning yourself and your integrity as a man of the tribe, your mothers, your aunts, your sisters, your nieces, your daughters, your grand-daughters, your female ancestors.

I am going to start this term, called transference/projection colonization. It’s something I made up to define a phenomenon I have done myself, witnessed in others, and articulated in talks with other Native men.

Because of our own colonization, we are transferring the frustration (or projecting it) onto our women when we demean them, beat them, hurt them, or use misogyny. Even if you don’t do it to our own women, when a white woman offends us, we interpret the years of colonization onto that woman by demeaning her. We fail to realize that White Man has colonized their women as well. That is how their empire expanded, they had to colonize their women first in order to gain that sort of control. They have been colonized for years before we ourselves were.

This does not mean to excuse their behavior, that may be racist or culturally appropriative. However, it means that we need to remember that they too are just as clouded as we were before we came to this understanding that we are men, native men, in solidarity with one another. You don’t call them names to demean them. You use your words. The best chiefs were the ones who seldom said a mean word, but when they spoke it fucking meant something. We aren’t given voices of our ancestors to just yell around “Bitch, cunt, tits, chicken head”, etc.

Our women die from alcoholism, drug overdose, and murder because they are dealing with their own colonization, and have to carry the burden of our projected colonization as well. Our women are attacked the most, daily, from effects of colonization. They see their men die from wasting away, they are pressured into abortions and sterilizations, they give birth to malformed fetuses that don’t live full term from exposure to the chemicals on the land, they are raped by white men because they culturally view women as less than them and thus can be easily subjugated.

I challenge all Native men to be a womanist (a form of feminism that is geared towards women of color), to start trying to dismantle their sexism, and be in solidarity with women. Only then, can we truly be sovereign.

*ciswomen - cisgender, or being cis, is when a woman who is physically female and feels in tune with that feminine body. They may identify themselves strictly as female, and do not feel a disconnect.

**transwomen - transgender women, or transwomen, is when a women who is either physically ambiguous or male that does not feel in tune with their body (in the case of physical-male), and presents themselves as female and are just as equally valid in being female as their cisgender women counterparts. This is one aspect of third-gender, or two spirit (two spirit is not just limited to gender identity, however, it can relate to sexuality. I think the closest English word could be ‘queer’).