by Melvin Martin
The entire state of South Dakota, and more specifically, Rapid City, is populated mainly by whites who are primarily lower middle-class in sociological terms: people who are less educated, less socially enlightened and less accepting of the growing diversity of America as we venture forth into the 21st Century.
When I lived in Rapid City, basically on and off all of my life thus far, I have made the observation that the vast majority of Indian-haters are whites who not only embody the aforementioned description, but who tend to suffer greatly, both individually and collectively, from what I have come to regard as a severe form of "self-esteem deficiency."
Rapid City is largely peopled with illiterate, stupidly politically conservative, disenfranchised whites who labor for slave wages and who essentially view themselves as much "less than" most other human beings. All of the hundreds of racist whites that I have personally confronted in Rapid City over the years have that much in common--their own self-imaging is so low that they, like their "cracker" counterparts in the American South (and their relations with blacks in towns similar to Rapid City like Montgomery, Alabama and Philadelphia, Mississippi; from the days of slavery and even now to some extent), have no recourse to feel better about themselves but to publicly disparage or outright physically attack Indians whenever the opportunities arise. Anyone who hates themselves and despises their station in life will, of course, hate and despise others--and will often act upon these negative feelings.
I, as an Indian person who for years in Rapid City felt the daily exposure to racism, can state that there definitely exists a most concretized and extremely tangible link between Indian stereotypes and racist acts/hate crimes that are perpetrated against Indian people in that town.
Since Rapid City's very own "crackers" never take the time to truly get to know their Indian brothers and sisters, they are forced by virtue of this self-generated social distancing to rely exclusively on the prevailing stereotypical belief system regarding Indians that has been brutally operative there for decades:
Indians are aggressive, conniving, panhandling drunks; Indians are unable to work and most of them are unemployable; Indians are very dirty as a race and they will destroy any properties that are rented to them; all Indians receive at least a couple of hundred dollars per month of "BIA welfare" that they quickly spend on alcohol and motel rooms where they make more "little Indians" like rats in Harlem; Indians are still "wild and untamed" as the hickeys and black eyes that they sport are the best indicators of their collective licentiousness and lack of a true moral base; Indian religion infects the area with black magic and all medicine men are practitioners of witchcraft and other forms of the black arts, hence, Indians are still heathens "in league with Satan"; Indian men are superbly well-endowed, amazingly virile and they will take our wives, daughters, sisters, mothers, aunts, nieces and girlfriends via their rap or by rape.
This is just some of the more pervasive anti-Indian mythology, the fundamental architecture of which consists of stereotypes that are specific to Rapid City, that I have personally heard whites express on numerous occasions since I was in the first grade there in the late '50s. So, the nature and the frequency of the various hate crimes carried out against Indian people in Rapid City, South Dakota, are indeed driven solely by this perverse cavalcade of stereotypical ideations that occur nowhere else but in the diseased hearts and minds of my hometown's many "crackers."
Lastly, for an Indian man to be misidentified as a Latino or as an Asian by drive-by name-callers is to me simply indicative of the victimizers' profound ignorance and pathetic lack of basic social intelligence--a phenomenon on par with the murder by baseball bat of a Chinese-American man by a group of irate Detroit autoworkers at the height of the anti-Japanese sentiment that flourished across the country in the '80s.
And innocent people from Central and South America are being verbally harassed, physically assaulted and even murdered lately in the U.S. as they are mistaken for Mexican illegal aliens by racists who would not know a Brazilian from a Peruvian even if they were to visit those two countries or any of the other countries in Latin America, to include Mexico.
Pilamaya ("Thank you")
Oglala Lakota Nation
For more on what motivates racists, see Anti-Indian Racism Explained. For more on the "post-racial" era, see Hate Abounds in "Post-Racial" America, Racism Lives in ObamAmerica, and The Post-Racial, Post-Indian Era?
Below: A look into the mind of someone who'd commit a hate crime against an Indian.