December 01, 2011

Natives experience racism every day

Community discussion centers on racism

By Lynn Taylor RickAs both a mother and an employee of the Rapid City Club for Boys, Cindy Lloyd sees the racism that Native American children deal with every day.

"It's a common problem," she said Wednesday during a "community conversation" between the Rapid City Central High School's Solutions student group, the public and Mayor Sam Kooiker.

Lloyd said her children faced racist slurs and threatening behavior from fellow students starting as early as grade school. "It's a big elephant walking around the schools," she said. "It's not just one or two stories here. ... It's the majority of Native kids would tell you a story or two."
And:Adonis Martinez, a former Central High School student, told Kooiker he remembers seeing signs--posted as a joke--above water fountains with a W and C, signifying White and Colored.

Former student Mike Red Cloud remembers a cousin in a Rapid City elementary school who denied she was Native to avoid being harassed. "These kids suffer," he said.

Current students said things have improved little.

Solutions member Maverick Grey Horse said he likes Central but has experienced "shunning" and been hassled for having a "Rezer" accent. "Some students still make fun of me for the way I talk," he said. "It hurts, but I still smile."

Another young Solutions member struggled tearfully to share her feelings of alienation with the group. "I came here last year, and some of my classes, I'm the only Native. Sometimes I just get made fun of ... and it hurts," she said.
Bullying in Native American communities

By Rae OwenA lot of what students are bullied about stems from racial stereotyping. If you are like most middle-class Americans, you probably were not aware of this. Native American students may be bullied for some of the following reasons.

Stereotypes and misconceptions of what it means to be Native American, and inherent bullying by the predominant culture. generational poverty, generational alcoholism and drug addiction, poor nutrition and diet, substandard and Inadequate housing, family structures that are not intact.

And of course the list goes on and on. As human beings, we need to recognize the differences that we all have, and respect each others' cultures and beliefs.

One of the saddest things about bullying is that it is not just students who target minority groups, but teachers as well. On statistic says, "Latin American, Native American, Alaskan Native and mixed-race 10th graders at low-minority schools were the most likely to feel "put down by [their] teachers." Teachers hailing from low-minority high schools are likelier to insult, isolate or otherwise marginalize Latin American students at a rate of 17.3 percent and Native America, Alaskan Native and mixed-race students at 17.8 percent.

Another frightening statistic is that Native American children, on average, have some of the highest rates of suicide and mortality compared to any other group.
Comment:  Minority children are maligned by stereotypes, insults, and low expectations. Because of this, they feel bad about themselves. They act out with substance abuse, criminal behavior, and suicide. How hard is that to understand?

Let's repeat the key points from the first article: Racism occurs every day. It's a common problem. It happens to the majority of Native kids.

We're not talking about one Pocahontas costume at one Halloween party. That's another racist incident on top of the daily occurrences experienced by many Native children. That's why I often say a costume is the "umpteenth" instance of racism. These kids experience a thousand instances of racism and the costume is a thousand plus one.

Obviously, the costume itself isn't causing vast depths of pain. It's the other thousand instances of racism and the costume. And critics like me aren't protesting the costume in isolation. We're protesting the centuries-old pattern of racist stereotyping, of which the costume is just the tip of the iceberg. We're trying to break the pattern and eliminate all the stereotypes, not just the latest one.

If you don't understand this, you're not seeing the evidence--the testimonies of these children--in front of your face. So until you've experienced a thousand instances of racism yourself, don't bother telling anyone to "get over it." You don't have a clue what it's like to be bullied because of your race. To have a countless examples of your "immorality" and "unfitness" thrust into your face every day.

For more on the subject, see Subtle Racism = Psychological Torture and Minorities Suffer Microaggression.

Below:  Message to Indians: "You're savage and subhuman! A thug and a killer!"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would add that in general, white people have stupid ideas about Indians. When I have to explain that I can't transform into an animal, yeah.

Is it bad when the first sympathetic portrayal of Indians in movies came out of Nazi Germany? Doesn't say much about Nazis; they were still mass murderers on the order of millions. But it says a lot about America.

Things have improved; I'll grant that. But not enough.