By Rainey Nasugraq Higbee
Eventually I did have a lichen-flavored epiphany, and through a different kind of birth I emerged to love 90 percent of my being. There were a lot of tears and a lot of pain and for a while I was ashamed not of my heritage but of my denial of my heritage. I will live the rest of my life in finding the fragile forgiveness of my ancestors.
But after a while I began examining where this burning self-hate came from. I looked into my past and the influences that made me who I was. I looked at each and every thought and prayer and hope I held next to my heart. The examination took years.
I write this not to be vindictive. I write to make someone, at least one person I hope, aware. I am angry about my experiences; that anger is surrounded by tears and pain. I still work to untangle the tangled, unmapped threads.
And yes, I am talking about teachers. The teachers that work in the villages. I do want to point out that not all teachers are bad or are doing badly. But there were a few in my life that did damage to others and myself. They wove cruel words into our daily diet. With statements like, "If you do well in this class you can get a good grade, go to college and get out of this place." Or comments about animal smells, dirty environments, or how they REALLY can't wait to leave this dreadful/lonely/isolated/cold/desolate place and go to a REAL place with theaters and bowling alleys and things to do. I grew up hearing these offhand comments.
It's ridiculous when outsiders who haven't a clue what disadvantaged people lived through presume to judge them. Presume to say things like "Just get over it" or "That wouldn't have bothered me." It's especially ridiculous when adults presume to judge they would've reacted as children. Saying that physical or mental abuse wouldn't have harmed you is like saying bullets wouldn't have harmed you.
It's much like judging a prisoner-of-war or torture victim without having gone through the same experience. You wouldn't have broken, gone crazy, given secrets to the enemy? Prove it, you silly twit. Your opinion that you could resist societal brainwashing is about as valid as your opinion that you could fly.
For more on the subject, see Teacher's Aide Chopped Native Boy's Hair and Intergenerational Trauma = PTSD.