Think about it. Stop, open your mind and think about it. Think about several things. How is colonialism and racism still being perpetuated today in the things you may do, and how, yes, it is extremely problematic and needs to stop. Let’s consider the topic of Cultural appropriation as an example. It’s the number one topic I get asked about or have people disgorge information to me about themselves.
First up, “mansplaining”, “whitesplaining”, these socially recognized propensities that are irritating and widely noted. I’m very sure some of those who do it aren’t purposely trying to be annoying and condescending, but it’s yet another product of western societies warped value systems. How so, you ask? You’re always asked and expected to prove your worth in the nuevo European system of value. That’s one way to do so. From my understanding and experience of Indigenous systems and perspectives, being born makes you unique and inherently of worth, of being listened to. But you don’t abuse that reality or disrespect others by doing it too much, so that you are seen to lack humility, a key facet of many Indigenous cultures.
“Knowledge is power” is one of the most remarked sayings in western society, but that too warped and a product of a deliberately diseased yet defended value system. It was created to be simplistic “yet profound” so that it can be manipulated to justify wrongdoing or cruelty. Simply having information proves nothing about power or wisdom, and especially not of worth. Nuevo systems have stolen, researched and known for centuries that Indigenous knowledge, systems and practices are beneficial, even superior to the mish-mash of immature behaviors and ways of being that western society has adopted as “normal”. “Knowledge is power” only in their way of treating others, which often means withholding information to use for profit and control of others, of money, of markets, of industries, of life itself. This Corona pandemic is prime example of it.
And when I say western society and “nuevo” European, I mean the systems, practices and behaviors it chose to adopt and enforce due to the horrors perpetuated during colonialization. Again, how so? Why so? Justification had to be made for why genocide, slavery, rape, torture, and pillaging was “okay”. Western values are based on rationalization of ruthlessness, cruelty and apathy, particularly attached to their created concept of race. Colonization, invasion and rape brought an explosion of incredibly blood drenched wealth back to Europe, so much so life became worth less. Skills and abilities, professions, could easily be bought cheaply or forcefully demanded from a slave or property instead of using or respecting millennia of expertise and knowledge. (A side note for this is that white groups from Left to Right, liberal to conservative believe in some way the presence of non-Europeans (or too many of them) inherently brings down values, whether property, salaries, etc. It all goes back to what “whites” perpetuated on other “whites”, not what “blacks” or others did.)
Now, with that background, returning to the reason I am writing this. I often receive questions, inquiries and requests sometimes through the documentary’s website or my personal or business websites. Whether in person or online, I have almost always experienced that people expect you to stop whatever you’re doing, put aside your own feelings, even traumas, to answer their questions upon command. And in a friendly or “helpful” way. This is a surprisingly hard situation, although I’m sure most of you would be puzzled why this is actually difficult for BIPOC, especially when you believe we should be flattered by your questions because you are showing you want to learn, woohoo!
Many of the queries are questions that can be answered by doing an Internet search. There are hundreds of websites by and featuring actual Indigenous people, on as many topics as you can imagine. Many Native nations of North America have websites, professional organizations, etc. Yes, we’re in the 21st century, are astrophysicists, doctors or regular employees, often at the same time practicing or regaining traditional beliefs and traditions, too.
Nativeness and Indigeneity doesn’t equal primitive or inability to cope in the modern world. That’s another Eurocentric lie they told to keep the narrative and power base under their control. And we get you are interested in Indigenous sources. That is to be commended and absolutely necessary. A first choice shouldn’t be asking a Native person to answer your questions but do the “legwork” yourself. Gaining knowledge and reassurance western values and systems are corrupt isn’t needed from us. You know it already. What are you doing about it? If nothing concrete and absolute, or asking what you should do? You haven’t done your research, and it suggests you’re looking for easy more palatable answers.
My son said, “Maybe they’re old and don’t realize Google is a thing.” And I said no that’s usually not the case. Also, the German value system has some distinct combinations or adaptations a little different than the rest of western society. Generally, Germany can be admired for having an adult population more willing to continue to self-educate. But there is also the expectation to SHOW how much you know, to prove your worth, and that you should be happy to do so especially if they give you a platform. They can get hurt, angered, perplexed when you, you a BIPOC always supposedly saying white people should listen to Indigenous perspectives more, then say no or ignore them.
But they want, want, want, need, need, need all the goddamn time. You can feel their need, a cultural emptiness, a desire for connection pouring out of them, pooling around their feet because their “culture” and society a) doesn’t provide what they need, b) is cruel, opinionated, judgmental etc, and/or c) the created “cultures” also do not always provide the depth needed. (Sidenote: this is also why some people, hobbyists for example, are so fanatically connected to and defensive of their behavior. It’s why some people are avid Trekkies, for example, totally immersing themselves in yet more fantasies and created ideologies).
You can understand the societies, the value systems they’ve grown up with, been traumatized by, sometimes very terribly, has caused this reaction and response. They rationalize fetishization or alternatively are disdainful of such attachments all while ignoring the systems they created and maintain are the root cause. Others have had to rationalize, to try to make themselves okay somehow within systems that are full of lies, lying, casual and studied cruelty, and practices designed to reduce you to nothingness if you do not choose to also be cruel and hurt others “for their own good”.
Germany is a new country comparatively, and for many reasons, some of which you may know and some of which you may not, is a product and reaction to traumatization that lasted for centuries and culminated in a holocaust they imagined necessary to exist in peace, but which certainly wasn’t the first or the worst in scope. Being self-sufficient, efficient, and unaffected by emotion or “irrrationality” is prized, yet is really a twisted response to trauma. In many ways opposite of Indigenous values or even their own original value systems.
It’s one of the main things Germans and other Europeans should learn from Indigenous people, healthy reaction and response to trauma, instead of their fixation on Indian stereotypes. It’s really hurtful and terrible because in my experience and observation, many Germans have the greatest hearts, can have genuine empathy and they want to do good and be good. Just beautiful and amazing, it brings tears to my eyes all the wonderful Germans I know who pour their hearts into helping others and living in a good way, but they are the most abused by their peers as being oversensitive and weak.
So, with such harsh “values” and practices, it’s no wonder cultural appropriation, wanting to be part of or enact traditions or cultures that are warm, inviting, and demonstratively loving is widespread. Yet too often, they go about seeking that knowledge and connection in racist, self-centered ways. I get asked or “told” about why they culturally appropriate, and receive explanations, reasons, EXCUSES on why they do so and think its “not so bad”, (we know this!) but which all ignore the effects are the same and that they are still perpetuating racism and colonialism. How colonialism? By taking from others without permission, without any kind of relationship, without reciprocity, you cause harm.
And now we’re back full circle to why I wrote this post. I don’t and we don’t owe anyone anything. If we answer, we’re giving up our time with our families, with our loved ones, from our time trying to heal from the daily microaggressions and traumas we are forced to deal with by the systems they support and benefit from, or we’re just keeping our boundaries. But we’re still expected to respond without hesitation or ire. This is distinctly a product of colonialism.
BIPOC people had to respond to white people, even small children, immediately, fully and in ways to make white people feel comfortable, safe and “good”. We had to be completely non-threatening in demeanor, stance, wording, everything just to “protect them” and effectively boost their egos. Not just the USA and South, but in Europe too. Society conditions BIPOC to do so and harshly penalizes, and continues to find ways to humiliate, stereotype even kill us when we do not.
And just like why people culturally appropriate, I get why they are asking these questions, and why sometimes they give a heart’s plea of their own circumstances, and I do empathize with that. I know how difficult and harsh their systems, colleagues, families and friends can be anyway, but especially when you are different and/or try to change or “buck the system”. Why? Because I/we have to deal with it every day, and no, we don’t get used to it. We usually never talk about or seldom reference this to “you” because we’re told we’re “playing the race card”, “making everything about race” or “everyone has a hard time!” They want to believe in their own goodness and the fairness of their completely unjust, racist systems.
Yes, having cultural, personal support, healthy relationships, empathetic response makes it possible to go on somehow, to go on another day, to not let the near constant ignorance, stupidity, racism, Eurocentrism and inequity get you down. In fact, our adaptability and ability to smile, still dance, laugh, make a joke out of trauma perplexes even infuriates some white people, while others use it to convince themselves “things are not so bad”. If they were in our place, they were would furious. We are. Believe me, and we are working to end western society’s bullshit and delusions for all our sakes. But I’m digressing: You cannot expect such support or relationships to appear just because you asked or want it to be so. “CP time” is a thing, “Indian time” is a thing but in more ways that the stereotypes you may have heard about.
BIPOC are not just “on demand” for your personal requests. Respect that. Show that.
BIPOC are not just “on demand” for your professional requests in the way you are used to or even that a contact form might suggest.
BIPOC people you are asking questions from, including myself, are often unemployed or underemployed despite having credentials equal or greater than white peers, in addition to experience and knowledge that is not inherent, but has been carefully gathered and collected through respectful networking and relationships with others. (For example, asking BIPOC for knowledge to improve a paid profession often teaching or decision-making for us, while excluding us as paid team members and educators.)
For those who says, “We’re just trying to treat you the same as we treat everyone, like you’re one of our colleagues!” Well, your ways suck, and you know they do. Any of the marginalized or minoritized among your own white people will tell you this. There’s a 1000 films, stories, documentaries etc acknowledging how vicious, discriminatory and bullying your systems are but white men especially, who gave themselves power through tremendous violence keep letting it go on, all while asking BIPOC to perpetuate the vicious system. That isn’t ignorance, that is sheer egoistic stupidity and cowardice.
I/we don’t want to be treated as you treat each other. We do not want to pollute or lose ourselves and our cultural connections by digressing to behave like you advocate just to fit in, and we don’t want to perpetuate your warped systems by supporting its white supremacist patriarchal structures. It is not a right way. It is not a good way, and even the most wise but often ignored in your society agree with this, they have for centuries, since colonialization, patriarchy, white supremacist and racist ideologies were created.
Especially with my documentary film appearance in February 2021, I received an increase in requests, some of which I responded to but more of which I did not. It wasn’t the right time for me to do so to say what I needed to say. I wasn’t in the mind to response in a right way. The “right way” doesn’t mean positive or good for the other person, it means the way in which it needs to be done. You’re already taking time and energy from us in doing so, and these are (of course!) losses that need to be balanced out and healed from. Boundaries are seldom respected with us, without those doing so realizing they are violating them. I/we are not a public service or web browser replacement. We are actual people who may be dealing with personal loss, health issues, child issues, whatever else, or just…. we don’t owe you anything.
For years, I/we have people think its flattering to us to ask our opinion or “expertise” about cultural appropriation or whatever, when they are still going to choose to do something racist and ignore us. Free expertise for their paid projects, especially those who have professions solely based on exploiting interest in Native or Indigenous cultures. Yes, we also need to support ourselves and our families! Our degrees and gained knowledge wasn’t free or without hardship! And no, it is not solely about the money (so don’t get fixated about that or if you’re asking me/us about a professional appearance or comment I/we deserve to be compensated) nor is it about any demand of respect.
It’s about treating others how you wish to be treated, placing yourself in their position/how it feels for the other person and actually caring. Your western values and systems teach you not to care about others, to be selfish or self-centered, and only see things from your perspective all while expecting them to submit and accept your bullshit and readjust themselves for your pleasure. Rape culture mentality indeed! Rigidity, stagnation, egoism. Nope. Rejected.
I cannot and have no desire nor feel any need to apologize to those who will be offended by what I’ve just said, if they read this far at all. If your heart is in the right place, you won’t stay offended by what I’ve wrote, and you will even acknowledge it as right even if you still don’t like it. That’s entirely fine and understandable. This is not to say I don’t or won’t answer requests and comments, and I realize your fear-based values will help you convince yourself you’re afraid to ask anything now! instead of prompting you to do self- and societal introspection and change/create change.
I know your nuevo European systems of ease and comfort condition you to expect immediate satisfaction or a reward for what you see as deserved, fantasized or real. Original European systems are not like that, as they are based on reciprocity, relationships and respect. You restrict yourselves and your minds, your relationships in so many ways, believing that nonsense because you want to think your behaviors don’t affect anyone else, especially negatively, unless they let themselves be affected. That mentality is why the world is in climate crisis, full of hate, resentment, cruelty, apathy today. Nope. Rejected.
We are all connected, don’t let your connections and contacts be in a negative, harmful way. Reciprocity, relationships and respect are some of the many things Indigenous systems from across the oceans have in common with original cultures of Europe, not the created colonial practices, systems and values so many righteously, perilously hold on to that continue a vicious cycle of delusion, emptiness and death. Of taking, of wanting, of expecting without thinking of consequences, effects or the harmful practices you perpetuate. I’m a person, we are people, not just your means to an end.