Trump, Warren, and the Dehumanization of Native Women

I’m incredibly busy with fast approaching deadlines and article pitches, but I wanted to share one of my recently published articles that I’m immensely proud.

I spent countless hours on the research, writing, and editing process. My PTSD was triggered throughout this piece and I was constantly in fear that I would let my ancestors, Indigenous women, and people down by the work that I produced. Through the help of many amazing friends and an incredible editor (I now know why writers thank their Editors) Kelley Calkins, I made it through the other side. I was honored with the privilege to interview Madonna Thunder Hawk and Rebecca Nagle for which I will always be humbled and thankful.

With that said, I give you Trump, Warren, and the Dehumanization of Native Women

http://www.theestablishment.co/2016/08/08/trump-warren-and-the-dehumanization-of-native-women/

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Fuck this privilege!

I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately much of which I’ve been submitting for publication. To my surprise my writing has been well received. I’ve already had 4 stories picked up out of the very few submissions I’ve sent out. Granted, I’m not being paid very much at all, but still, I haven’t been at this even a month and if I were to take a guess at the amount of pitches and completed stories I’ve sent out versus what’s been bought thus far I’d say I’m 70/30 in my favor right now. I’m also sending out some of my poetry which I don’t have high hopes for being published, let alone being paid for, but the fact that my voice and the communities I represent are valued so much that I’m being paid for any of my writing at all is awe inspiring and the fuel to the fire that I’ve really needed to keep me going in this dumpster fire of a life I’ve been living.

With all of that said though I am seriously enraged that it took 5 1/2 years of undergraduate and 3 years of graduate education for my voice to be important. That was $250,000 worth of student loan debt. Thankfully, I say ironically, because of my debilitating disability my federal student loan debt has been wiped away now. However, my private student loan debt is forever there until the federal government decides in their infinite wisdom to get off their asses and give private student loan debt relief to those of us who need it-unlike those motherfucking asshole banker dickheads they gave that shyte to. In the meantime there isn’t a fucking thing I can do about it. The mafia would be kinder in their interest rates and payment plans than these motherfucking private student loan lenders. Yet it took all of that education and debt for my voice to matter. Without it I highly doubt anyone would have taken me seriously. Scratch that. I can say with absolute certainty no one would have taken me seriously. As a Tsalagi (Cherokee)-member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, Bisexual, Disabled, Poor Woman I had to work 1,000 times harder than every white, able bodied, straight, American, woman, and man I encountered. That sadly even includes some  Gay men, Lesbians, and other People Of Color because of the Biphobia and Colonialism that we Bisexuals and Natives experience at the hands of Gay men, Lesbians, and other People Of Color is fucking intense and holds us down at all turns. I’ve lost out on jobs and have been denied healthcare because I’m Bi, Disabled, and Native and it hasn’t always been white, able bodied, and het people doing the discriminating. I guess my long winded point is that education is a right for one and all, not a privilege and not one that should weigh down and ruin our futures.

 

I was also thinking earlier about the oppressions and privileges I’ve had throughout my life from childhood until now. One of those privileges as a child was that while I didn’t grow up with an “educated” family with money who could guide me through my higher education and career, I also never had to worry about being evicted from our home, where we’d sleep next, the lights going out, or going to bed hungry. That’s some fucked up shit right there! Those aren’t privileges, those are basic, bare bones human rights! What kind of a fucked up, oppressive, hate fueled, capitalistic world do we live in that a child of abuse who has grown up to be a Native, Bi, Disabled, Poor Woman who’s legally homeless, living below the poverty line, and has spent almost her entire life being abused and yet she can  say she’s “privileged” because she didn’t go to bed hungry at night as a child? Seriously? This is the best we can do in the so called “land of the free?” This is it? The land of milk and honey where Trump and Hillary are our saviors to right the wrongs that so many of us suffer from? That’s some just fucking straight up laughable shit!

I say this as someone who worked for roughly a decade in liberal, mainstream (white) Feminist, and Democratic Party politics. By 2014 I was on my way to being a so called party insider, but I had seen and experienced too much. The racism, colonialism, sexism, ableism, saneism, ageism, elitism, bi/trans/homophobia, and so much more that I experienced first hand or saw others experience working in that environment was too much. I couldn’t keep going in that world. I left for a reason. Once upon a time, even though I ultimately felt that the system should be torn apart and built anew by those of us who have been oppressed by it, I still thought some good could come from working in it. A decade later and I knew different. I didn’t become this far left Radical out of nowhere. My revolutionary beliefs didn’t spring up overnight.

Sadly, we’re (currently) stuck with this colonizing, hate mongering system that has me thinking about how I was privileged to not go to bed hungry as a child, but it doesn’t always have to be this way. We can change this system. It won’t come through Trump, Hillary, Jill Stein, or any other white, able bodied, hetero, wealthy, cisgendered, American, colonizer or settler privileged, status quo candidate. Change comes with us standing up and challenging this corrupt system now! Remember this when you get beaten down and worn down by the system: Privilege isn’t having $250k in student loan debt so maybe people will take you seriously! And Privilege isn’t going to bed hungry!

 

Erasure, Hatred, & Data for the Masses/But We Live On

I’ve finally begun pursuing publication for my writing and lo and behold I’m actually finding success. I’ve already had one article published on Autostraddle and am currently working on another for The Establishment. Yay for finally getting off my (disabled) ass and sending my work around! Really it’s that I now have enough stamina to work for a couple of hours most days hence why I’m now able to pursue my dreams of being a published author. It is rather overwhelming though on many fronts. Presently, my current writing project is really draining me psychically, emotionally, and physically.

Without giving away the details of the article I’m writing I’ll just say that I’m digging into a lot of very heavy data on violence against Native women in the US. Most of it isn’t new to me. I’ve read, and shared publicly many times, the studies and statistics. I don’t know a single Indigenous woman that hasn’t suffered multiple forms of violence throughout the course of her life, usually at the hands of a white man. I’m no exception to this. Most sexual assault is intraracial-the predator is the same race as the victim-but we Natives are the exception. Even our men have horrifically high rates of sexual abuse and it’s also predominantly interracial. This should come as no surprise given our history of boarding school abuses and the current abuses our children, women, and men suffer in the foster care and criminal injustice systems.

In the last hour alone I’ve read that more than 1 million  Native women have experienced sexual violence in our lifetime. According to the 2015 US census we only comprise 5.4 million of the total US population. This is including those that self-identified as mixed race and Native. While I don’t believe blood quantum and tribal enrollment are the signs of a true Native (these are the tools of the colonizer after all), but there aren’t 5.4 million federally enrolled tribal members in the US. According to the National Congress of the American Indian we comprise 2.9 million, 0r .9%, of the total US population. If we’re only 2.9 million people and more than 1 million of our women have been victims of sexual violence that basically means that almost all Indigenous women in the US have been assaulted in some fashion at least once in our lifetimes. From what I’ve experienced and the stories I’ve heard, from many Native women, one time in a YEAR is a miracle. If you’re Two Spirit, Queer, Bi, or a Disabled Native woman then your likelihood and occurrences of abuse only increase.

I’ve had to sit for days with this heavy data and the extremely hateful and racist rhetoric of some of our Amerikkkan leaders and try to dissect it in a way that is intelligent, understandable, and gives a heartfelt and impassioned cry to the overwhelming non-Native readers that will see this article so they will hopefully get off their privileged settler asses and be our allies and fight for our rights. Needless to say, it’s eating at me. Last night I went to the anti-police brutality march in Roxbury, MA in solidarity for the Black lives that are being slaughtered by the police, but I also used it as my PTSD wellness break from my work. It says a lot about the state of Amerikkka when a Disabled, Bi, Native woman with chronic pain who can’t stand for long or walk great distances and feels panicky in crowds and near the police goes to a protest and march that has 1,000 plus people and is littered with police so she can get a break from her research. But hey, it’s the land of the free, right?

I can understand how it would be easy for many in America, and abroad, to write off some of what I’ll bring up in my soon-to-be published article. It’s easy to brush aside the hateful and ignorant comments of some people because they behave like jackasses so why would anyone take them seriously? But the thing is, when it comes to us Natives, people do take them seriously and it’s never just one jackass in the spotlight. It’s Victoria’s Secret hypersexualizing Native women and culturally appropriating war bonnets which are sacred to some Plains’ tribes. It’s the white hipsters at music festivals that also wear headdresses or Pharrell Williams, a Black man, who posed with a headdress for British Elle. It’s the Colonial Bros and Nava-hos frat party. It’s me as the only Native in a room full of so called Massachusetts’ progressives who repeatedly ironically ask “You’re Indian? That’s so neat! Will you speak at my child’s school for Thanksgiving?” Meanwhile, I’m Tsalagi. That’s Cherokee to you colonizers. I’m a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. When the pilgrims came, my people were in the Southeast nowhere near present day Massachusetts. It’s the Wampanoags that had to deal with those British wankers.

It’s me at the Boston LGBT health center with me feet literally in stirrups waiting for my Woman Of Color (WOC) doctor to replace my IUD, which I’ve already told her is incredibly painful, and she asks me “So your last name, are you Native American?” It’s the resident at my chronic pain management clinic, who I assume is Southeast Asian, asking me as I’m writhing in pain on the table after having several very large needles stuck in my spine “So you’re Native American? What tribe are you? Tell me all about it!” as if it’s any of his business, my job to teach him my history, or that he’s not taking advantage of his power in that situation and making me feel unsafe, and that it wouldn’t cause him pain and rage when people force their racist and colonizing microaggressions upon him.

And the one that’s really sticking in my craw right now is this: It’s me on a date with a white man who calls me “exoctic” and “Pocahontas” without the slightest irony that he’s the exoctic one because this is our land and that the story of Pocahontas as he knows her is a myth. Pocahontas’ real name was Matoaka. She was approximately 10-12 years old when she had the misfortune of encountering John Smith. She was soon taken captive by the British and “married” to John Rolfe, forced into Christianity, and then dragged across the Atlantic to England where she was paraded around as the so called noble savage until she died at the age of 22. Despite all of this I’m supposed to be turned on, bat my pretty exoctic eyelashes, and be ready to open my red legs when some asshole, racist, colonizing, misogynistic, rape culture loving white man calls me “Pocahontas.”

I could really go on for months, possibly years, about all of this because sadly our abuse and injustices run that deep, but despite all of the colonizer’s best attempts to wipe us out, we’re still here. I’m still here. I, a Bisexual, Disabled, Poor, Fat, Native Woman am still here. We’re hurting, and I’m most definitely hurting, but we’re still here. I may need a lot of PTSD breaks and I may not produce the same amount of work as the colonizer does, but I’ll keep writing. I live on through my ancestors. Our voices are strong and we will be heard. I will be heard.

 

Owning My Pain Induced Fault Lines

I’ve recently come to some hard realizations regarding my past and how they are impacting my present. This may be the only time in the immediate future that I can get this out so I’m taking the plunge without editing so that I won’t erase the honesty of my situation.

I’ve thought that my mental illness presented itself when I was eight years old, but now I think it was childhood abuse and trauma that was coming through. I was standing in our ugly shower that’s the color of unhealthy bacteria laced phlegm sobbing with my mom’s disposable pink lady Bic razor against my wrist. I have no idea what upset me and how I learned that cutting one’s wrists could end one’s life, but there I was. For the last few years I’ve thought that that was the beginning of me becoming crazy and fucked up. I’ve viewed it as the start of me being damaged goods, but the reality is that it was the abuse in my house that led me there. I can’t even remember anything but bits of pieces of my childhood before the age of eight and I don’t have constant memories before the age of ten. This is also something I’ve only recently come to understand and grip the gravity of as unhealthy and abnormal.

I was raped when I was fourteen by my then nineteen year old boyfriend. I’ve always known that that I was young and just a kid when that happened, but because I had been through so much already and was smarter than average I never really thought of myself as a child. I didn’t see it as childhood sexual abuse. I never saw myself as a victim of childhood sexual abuse. That’s what it was though.

I’m not sure why seeing this all for what it was has been so difficult for me. Maybe it’s my own internalized self-blame and hatred. Perhaps by seeing myself in the role of more of an adult I was able to give myself more power when it was all taken away. I’m not sure, but I know that this has been unbearably painful and has rocked my sense of self-worth and ability to further cope in my current shitty life circumstances. There are things that have been a part of my life for the past several years that I can’t publicly speak about for a variety of reasons, but they only add to the trauma that I face. They add to the alienation I feel from people. This is all such a large part of why I’ve further pushed people away. Granted, I haven’t found many that are understanding and patient for me to let in, but the few that have come my way I somehow kick out of my life through a series of tests. Only a few people have had the understanding and compassion to stick by me through this all.

I don’t blame those who I don’t understand and it’s too much for them to deal with, but this is a small taste of what I’m going through. Every minute of every day I’m in pain. Between the fact that my body is a worthless hunk of junk that has continually let me down (now I have a lump in my right breast to contend to) or the trauma that I carry in my soul without any relief or comfort I simply don’t know how to let people be close to me. How do you let yourself open up to the idea of being loved when the overwhelming majority of your life you’ve been told time and time again that you’re so unworthy of life that you deserve abuse? Seriously, someone tell me how because I really don’t know.

My Neck Flareups: Will I ever see my left shoulder again?

As of today I couldn’t turn my head to the left at all. I mean not even an inch without searing pain. I woke up several times during the night thanks to the pain. This flareup has gone on for about two weeks now. Surgery sounds more amazing with each nerve shattering minute.

At 11:30pm (April 2) I was finally able to turn my head to the left almost to where my chin was aligned with the middle of shoulder without any pain. What did it take for this glorious dare devil act to occur you ask?

Step into my parlor and find out…

Throughout the day I used:

1. Ice packs on both shoulders and neck for 2o minutes

2. Heat on left shoulder for 10 minutes

3. Lidocaine patch 5% on left shoulder for 9 hours

4. 600 mg of Gabapentin

5. 2400 mg of Ibueprofin

6. 20 mg of Oxycodone

7. And lastly 1 Harpoon Celtic Ale

Clearly #7 backs up Benjamin Franklin’s claim that “beer is proof that God loves us.” Sheer genius right there.

To answer the unspoken, but powerful question on all your minds: No, I haven’t been holding back on Part Two of the Ableism post just to keep your panties wet. The literal pain in my neck has made the thought of sitting at my laptop seem akin to the torture those human rights loving folks of the Spanish Inquisition were down for. Never fear though dear readers, you’ll get Part Two when I’m damn good and ready and you’ll like it too 😉

A Thanksgiving of MY Own Making

Last night I had the intention of writing  a piece about bi and trans erasure and its connection to Native erasure. Yesterday was Trans Remembrance Day and November is Native Heritage Month, not that anyone would know, and it seemed a fitting day to write that piece. By the time I arrived home at 8pm after a day of 4 medical appointments, and a week totaling 7 medical appointments that included 2 physical therapy appointments and injections in my traps, I was exhausted and decided to give myself permission to take the night off from writing. I felt a bit guilty, but I’m allowed to be “lazy” on occasion.

I woke up today and was just raring to go due to the writing bug.  I had thoughts running around in my head about what Thanksgiving meant to me. So here I am sitting down to write out and the honest truth is that I’m still trying to figure it out.

Thanksgiving was never a big holiday in my family. Granted my family is riddled with divorce *I’m talking great grandparents that were divorced* so holidays were difficult to negotiate. I grew up in Oklahoma and Texas where Thanksgiving just isn’t the big deal that it is in the Northeast. I hypothesize that it is partially because Oklahoma has a rather large Native population. Tulsa County, where I grew up, has the largest Cherokee population in the US, which I happen to be. Of course this isn’t the only reason, but I’m sure it has a large role in the “eh it’s only Thanksgiving” attitude that I saw growing up.

Thanksgiving meant multiple holidays between different households. It meant eating multiple meals of turkey, stuffing (My Degee made the best stuffing you’ll ever eat!), green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie (once again, Degee’s pie kicks your pie’s ass!). It meant uncomfortable familial interactions. It did mean though the kickoff to Christmas which I adored then and still do to this day! Christmas always meant warmth and comfort for me. As a result, Thanksgiving, in its own weird way, meant the beginning of that.

Despite being raised Christian I have identified as agnostic for several years. The religious aspect of Christmas means nothing to me. Although I do enjoy the pagan dimensions of the holiday. I’ll often send out Winter Solstice ecards because  I enjoy celebrating the awe of nature, as well as fucking with people’s sense of society’s norms. I don’t get down with the kapitalistic side of Christmas either. I refuse to suck at the tit of consumerism in order to “celebrate” my loved ones and utter glee and delight for the holiday season.

Once I was 18 and out of my own I began the shaping of the holidays into my own design. It took a while to get things how I liked them, but by my early 20s, I at least enjoyed my Thanksgiving tradition. I lived in Los Angeles and was going to USC. My first Thanksgiving in LA was spent with a then co-worker, from the Godiva Chocolatier at the  Beverly Center, and his friends. We had wine, dinner, and watched Sex in the City. I remember I was so taken aback by the use of the word “cunt” in one of the early episodes. I can’t help but chuckle now at how innocent I once was. The next day I was back to work slinging chocolate to the celebrities and rich folks.

Upon entering the Disco Wonderland (the Bev Center was decorated with gold disco balls rather than traditional Xmas attire) I headed to the balcony overlooking the courtyard.  I looked down to see the West Hollywood Gay Men’s Chorus singing and to find Noah Wyle from the then popular tv show, ER, and his wife sitting on Santa’s lap-Hunky Santa would be coming out later that evening. I stood there in a sort of awe thinking to myself that I was no longer in Oklahoma. I felt this sense of wonder and joy that I had begun to live the life I wanted. I had escaped my “home” and the pain and drudgery that came with it. Thanksgiving had taken a new turn for me.

The following years a new tradition began: The Wednesday night before Thanksgiving I’d go out for drinks, to club, and party. I’d often hit the queer area of West Hollywood to drink and dance until the sweat was pouring down my body. At 2am when the lights came on and security kicked us out, I’d tumble out onto the street to the smell of the vendors cooking sausage and peppers. I can still vividly recall the many sensations. I miss those nights.

If I wanted to go low key then I’d hit my then favorite  local bar at the Hotel Figueroa for cocktails.  I’d sit in one of the gorgeous Moroccan themed bars and talk into the wee hours over far too many drinks with my friends. The next day I’d inevitably wake up hung over as shit, but I’d fall out of bed and meet the family of my choosing for food, laughs, love, and yes, more drinks. I finally felt like  I had a place that I belonged. I had a community and a family that was mine to love and be loved by.

Eventually I made my way to the Northeast where I have accomplished a lot in terms of my education and the building of my resume’. I’ve also traveled and moved to areas of the US along the way that I never thought I’d see. I’ve met some great people, and some that shouldn’t walk the Earth, along the way. I haven’t, however, found my community or family. I’ve felt alone, unwelcome, and unwanted. The holidays have taken this sad turn. Ever year I’ve tried like hell to make them meaningful and fun and have often, not always, come up short. I’ve lost count how many holidays I’ve spent alone. In all fairness, my health problems have made it more and more difficult to spend my holidays as I’d like, as has my increasing poverty, but the lack of family of my own choosing has been the primary cause.

Last year I spent Thanksgiving alone, eating pizza in bed while watching movies, crying off and on throughout the day. I was supposed to spend the day with a “friend” who blew me off at the last minute because she decided that it just wasn’t that important to honor our plans, and to be with a friend that would otherwise be alone,. She also felt that Thanksgiving was nothing more than a day that meant death to turkeys. Yes, she’ was that big of a fucking asshole! Death to turkeys was all that mattered to that bitch. Needless to say I eventually got fed up with her and cut her out of my life.  I occasionally see her at local progressive events and I say not word one to her.

Thanksgiving has now simply become a horrid holiday that exemplifies the rape, enslavement, genocide, theft, and continued oppression of my people. Now I’ve always known the story of Thanksgiving that we’re forced fed in Amerika is a lie and it’s a lie that harms my people and it’s always pissed me off, but at least Thanksgiving had some happy connotation. I’m missing that joyous part now.  Loosing the joy that I found for myself is nothing more than a continued form of oppression.  That simply isn’t ok with me.

I may not be able to snap my fingers and make the Northeast feel like home. I may not be able to make my body magically better so that I don’t need the numerous doctors, treatments, and hospitals so that I can finally leave the Northeast. I may not be able to click my heels together and come up with the money to travel or move away. I can’t wiggle my nose and make Boston a place full of warm, loving, friendly people that feel like a family of my own choosing. BUT there are small things I can do for myself.  Today I allowed myself to sleep in until my body decided it was time to get up. I may not be able to have my Degee’s amazing pumpkin pie, but I had pumpkin coffee and pumpkin cream cheese on a mini whole wheat bagel.  Later tonight I’m going to make myself a yummy steak with delicious veggies and for a snack I’ll have these amazingly tasty local mixed olive cheese spread on multigrain crackers. Yes, I’m nervous about the fat and carbs and food is scary for me at the moment, but damnit I’m going to eat a good meal today!  When I sign off of here I’m going to call my mom, not engage in any sort of argument or stress, and then I’m going to  continue with my childhood theme of Thanksgiving as the kickoff of the Christmas season: I’m going to put up my Christmas decorations! I’ll listen to Christmas music and of course I’m having cocktails too!

I’ll call it a day on my writing now that Santa has appeared on the second showing of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I hope that those of you celebrating Thanksgiving enjoy a holiday of your own choosing! To the rest of you, have a wonderful day.

PLEASE remember the real story of Thanksgiving and PLEASE do NOT take part in shopping TONIGHT or TOMORROW!

For the  true story of Thanksgiving look here:

This is an interpretation of Thanksgiving based on the beginnings of capitalism in America. It is a rather anglo centric view. For example, King Philip is known by Native people as Metacom and Squanto’s true name is  Tisquantum. It is an interesting read though.  http://bostonoccupier.com/original-occupation-native-blood-the-myth-of-thanksgiving/

For a more Native interpretation, and one I appreciate more, read these:

http://www.whitewolfpack.com/2012/10/angelina-jolie-refuses-to-celebrate.html

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/11/22/watch-the-disenfranchisment-of-native-americans-continues-today/

You Never Forget Your First Blog

Ah my first post in my very first blog. I’m flooded with a rush of nostalgia for other firsts, such as the first time I did blow, er I mean my first kiss. Yes, that is exactly what I meant. My first kiss. *Ahem*

It’s not as if I haven’t blogged before. All of my past blogging exploits were for the myriad of political candidates and organizations that I once slaved away for. This time though it’s just for me. I am feeding my creative soul and all that hippie nonsense. No, I am not a Republican, Tea Party, or Libertarian hate mongering jackass. I am a radical feminist who’s a registered Democrat who just happens to be a hatemonger of hippies. I mean, really, put down the weed and get off your lazy asses and fight for a cause. But, I digress.

So here I am attempting to craft away this introductory post and I have not a freaking clue what to write. Perhaps I’m over thinking it. I do have a tendency to over think things a wee bit. There was the time when I was 19 and my printer decided it wasn’t going to print the paper that was due in my community college writing course that I was running late for. My thought process went a little something like this: “Oh my God! I won’t get my paper turned in on time and then I won’t get an A in the class and then I’ll never be accepted into Juliard, NYU, or USC and I’ll never have a career in music and I’ll end up homeless on the street and OH MY GOD I’M SUPPOSED TO BE IN CLASS AND WHY WON’T THIS FUCKING PRINTER WORK?!”

I’m 33 now, have a few degrees hanging on my wall, one of which is from USC (Fight on!), and to answer the question on all of your minds: yes, I am now medicated. I feel fairly certain that the success of my first blog post, or the blog itself, is not going to land me homeless on the streets. This, however, does not solve my dilemma.

This post, my first post, should be witty, honest, and so fucking good that it makes your eyes roll to the back of your head like the way you wish your last piece of ass had. I want my readers walking away from this post craving more of my delicious way with words the way Romney craves power. Oh yes, I’m not putting any pressure on myself at all. Well what I can’t seem to access in wit I will make up for in brevity.

On with the debacle that is my life!

Jen