July 23, 2020

White People might Finally be getting a Taste of What it’s Like to be Us.

I’m brown.

I’m a woman.

I’m Native American, and I live on my home reservation in Montana. I live on my ancestral land.

Every evening, when I go for a walk, I walk by a house flying an American flag and a Confederate flag.

Due to a long history too complicated to explain here, my people are minorities on our own reservation.

The house with the Confederate flag flying in front of it is unscathed. There is nobody from my community harassing these people, threatening them, or sh*tting in their yard.

I’m a single mom who leaves my teenage sons home alone when I go to work or go for walks. If I put a Black Lives Matter sign in my yard, my home would be vandalized. My yard would not be sh*t free, and my kids and I would absolutely be harassed…or worse.

If anybody with my skin color acted like that, they’d be in jail. More importantly, most of the people I know have enough goodness to not become the evil they are surrounded by. We have not been given enough credit for not letting monstrous behavior turn us into monsters.

People of color like me have had to face this kind of violent reality before we had the words to describe it. Again and again, we have to stand in the face of evil and find a way to maintain our own dignity and know who we are in a world that isn’t going to be fair any time soon.

Today, I watched a white veteran get hit with a police baton hard enough to break his bones, and I saw white women link arms to protect peaceful protesters. Then, I saw them teargassed.

I cried. Now, more white people are getting a small taste of what it’s like to be one of us. Now, more white people are understanding what it’s like to be subjected to the utmost humiliation, violence, and unfairness, only to realize that nobody is coming and that the people in charge not only do not care, they are the ones doing it.

There are good people trying to do something good, and they are not being rewarded. They are being punished.

Watching the news lately has been deeply troubling and triggering to me because the kind of hatefulness that’s currently being amplified has always been part of my life. The worst people I see on the news lately are not so different from the teachers my sons have had on the reservation.

A constantly simmering pot of hate that occasionally boils over to burn away the flesh of hope is something me and too many people I know navigate daily.

Our ability to be in a world like this and still be able to support our families, love each other, create art, and laugh is a deep testament to how strong we’ve always been.

I don’t know how things are going to get better. All I know is that tonight, I’m going to go online and donate what I can to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.  Because one thing I know for sure—the only thing I know—is that if enough of us did something, when we ourselves are not the targets, maybe things could be different.

Instead of posting an angry, indignant meme, I can do something small to support a greater cause. I can, in the way that I am able to, stand in solidarity with people doing good work.

Maybe, if enough of us did what we can, no matter how small, maybe it could be enough to move the world in a way we can’t do alone.

Lastly, to anybody who is sticking their necks out in any way in order to do the right thing, thank you. Blessings upon you.

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Jennifer Finley  |  Contribution: 820

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