Wednesday, April 29, 2015

"Respectfully Quiet"

Tsalagi blood runs through me
Really not a high "percentage"
Just a thirty-second or sixty-fourth
About the weight of one hand

Or my heart.

And it is my heart
Deep inside of me
Moving me
Pulsating in me

But I didn't know it
Until two years ago
And I can't "prove" it
Not just yet

But someday.

For now I am cautious
It's precious to me
My Tsalagi heart
I must protect it at times

I'm careful
When I share it
Because I know
And I understand

That so many have claimed
So many have appropriated
So many have abused
Those who have known

Those who grew up
In the community
With elders
With traditions

I want to respect them
I want to respect traditions
I want to respect community
So I will not presume

To think that I know
How it feels to grow up
As a Native
As a Tsalagi

This is okay with me
Some say I shouldn't be shy
That I should be proud
They think I'm not

But I am.

It's not being ashamed
To recognize the difference
Between growing up as they did
And discovering only recently

I will not use my heritage
As a badge
Or as an authority
To give my opinions weight

I will only speak as a pilgrim
On a journey into my heritage
As a newcomer
Rediscovering his roots

One day I will speak more freely
I will share with less hesitation
But that day has not yet come
And I gladly wait with patience

Because I know that culture
And community
And relationship
Are things of substance

And at this point
I know these very little
So I will sit and listen
Af the feet those who know

And one day I will know.


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