Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Unexpectedly Blessing



When I started the "Christians Against Native Mascotry" Facebook page and Twitter page, really I was aiming at Christians with it, in the hope of helping their eyes become opened to not merely the inhumanity of Native mascotry (and framing it in the context of Matthew 25:40), but also to the root issues that have brought that about (America's institutionalized discrimination and treatment toward Natives).

But one of the surprises I've had is that what I've shared there has become a blessing and a witness to *Natives*! Many have voiced appreciation and "aho's" to the poems & memes I've shared there. And some are surprised to see the irony of a Christian making memes critical of things like the boarding schools, and taking ownership of the way Christians have treated Natives in North American history. The memes and poems have been seen literally *thousands* of times and have been shared and re-shared all over the place.

This is just really really cool to me. I've formed relationships on Facebook with several Natives in the anti-mascotry movement and some have even asked me to publish some of the articles and poems I've written on sites they contribute to.

Seeing that a Christian understands these root issues (and fruit issues like mascotry) is a surprise to many a Natives who have been hurt by Christianity in America. It's witnessing a different "Jesus" to them than the one colonialism abused them in the name of—a Jesus who instead cares about them and isn't down with the way Christians have treated them in America.

I'm incredibly humbled and thankful to be used this way. I thought I'd share some cool comments I've received or seen from the places the memes from CANM have been shared. (They have gone further than I can see when people copy and paste them, and fun enough, sometimes a friend will share it *back* to me!) I'm particularly glad when activist groups or news groups re-share, but the personal comments are just the most moving to me.

I'm sharing these here because they mean so much to me. I will probably add to them from time to time if more comments come along.

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“Jesús would have never stand for a what this teams stands for, thanks for introducing this group to me”

“This is a cool FB page for my Christian friends.”

“Though I have no religious affiliation only a spiritual sense of being. .. this piece helps me to see the good that is in the hearts of some.”

“Thank you for your positive comment, truly appreciated. I come from survivors of horrors that should not be endured by any living beings..I try not to let the words or actions of racists/strangers meant to dehumanize me or my Peoples make me hate them. My emotions are much better spent on loving my family. I do hurt for our children, because I was one and I have feelings. I thank The Creator every day I am INDIGENOUS, that is my inner peace. And I pray to forgive them...that is my strength.”

“There are Christians who get it...”

“thank you for this, for your thoughts and feelings. This world needs more of that.”

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(The following is a conversation between me and a Native man in a private group after I shared a meme about the boarding schools...)

CG: &this is from christians ??how ironic is that

RR: Yep... I made it. I'm a Christian. Irony abounds.

RR: I trace it back to that Jesus guy who, well, never did half the mess that Christians did in his name. A lot of progressive friends and some Native friends have understandably dropped the "Christian" label, saying instead that they follow "The Jesus Way".

RR: I've opted to *not* do that in part because I want to own the crap Christians have done and see what I can personally do to apologize, reconcile, educate, and...

RR: And well, Christians need to be warned. Because if Jesus is real and coming back, then he's going to be pretty upset at the mistreatment of Natives (and a lot of other people), 'cause he said, "Whatever you have done to the least of these, you have done to me."

RR: He's not who a lot of Christians think he is.

CG: many will not accept a apology ,,much harm has been done &cannot be made right ,,my child is christians &i support her on it ,,but i also never let it be forgotten ,i support what you are trying to do ,on the same note i suppoert awareness to our young of the astrocities caused by all that have harmed ,destroyed &continue to destroy to this day

RR: Absolutely, CG, absolutely.

CG: it would be great if neither of us had this task before us,,,

CG: we are brothers &brothers we shall remain ,no matter how we see things

RR: I wish so many things had never happened, but I know the Creator brings life out of death like spring out of winter. Nothing will ever excuse or make up for all that was done; we should mourn and always remember (and Christians need to put into action that phrase from the Bible, "Bear fruit in keeping with repentance"). I can't picture the end of things, but I think there is something we can make of all this for our grandchildren.

CG: grandchildren &beyond ,,as you know racism &hatrid &stupidity ,&uneducated folks run deep ,,im in new york a very hateful state towards first nations ,,yet we have just recently gotten the lancaster school to drop its mascot ,,man ya should of seen the hatful comment &folks that just made no sense at all complain &we also got a island "squaw island " to drop its name ,,i think many see things different these days ,,but there are many many that have been taught to hate for so long they feel they are going against family tradition & don't even know why ,,,,,they where raised playing cowboys & Indians & no one ever wanted to be the Indian, WHEN WE MARCHED THE INTERNATION PEACE BRIDGE 2 YEARS AGO OUR LOCAL NEWSDIDNT EVEN COVER THE STORIE ,,NOT A PEEP,, they did mention a monkey being born in some foriegn country for 3 days straight, i called 3 news stations on it & they ignored me publicly ,,,,we just have to keep on keeping on ,,just how many authors are there to the bible last to my knowledge it was 11,,& that includes a king who had it revised to his liking, one would think if your international border was being over run ,,it would gather some news coverage

CG: well ive gotten off track from your post ,,sorry but my heart is heavy & our voice is silenced

(another person chimed in)

AR: What the heck were they thinking? How can anyone justify this? Religious nuts are usually the worst offenders behind this.

CG: religious nuts,, not all are nuts, im not religious but i know they are not all nuts ,,,maybe a bit confused, but if it gives them strength ,,so be it ,,every one needs hope in some thing
****

(This quote is from a Native lady in one meme I created, just after a local high school board voted not to change its name/mascot, which she and her people had been working to accomplish. The meme was shared and seen thousands of times. She changed her profile picture to the meme, where it has been shared by her friends and friends of friends. After all the encouragement, she wrote the following...)

“Thank you everyone! They are talking all kinds of junk about me on their page and other places that is hard to digest. This picture alone has reached thousands of people today with your help and it keeps me focused. I appreciate you all!”

****

Another Native friend shared the CANM page and said:

“One of the most powerful voices on Facebook.”

He also shared the meme I made with a picture of Wounded Knee and the poem with it ("So You Have Some Indian Friends?"), and said:

“Please share this for our ancestors.
And for our children.”

(I mentioned this in my last post along with how overwhelmed I felt about it.)

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Here's another comment left when someone I don't know re-shared the same poem and meme with the Wounded Knee picture ("So You Have Some Indian Friends?")—

“THANKS FOR THE POST HAD TEARS RUNNING DOWN MY FACE THE WHOLE TIME READING IT MY GRANDFATHER WAS 100% LAKOTA SIOUX AND HE RAISED ME,AND TOLD ME ALL THE ATROCITIES THAT HAS HAPPENED IT BREAKS MY HEART, I AM THE LAST OF MY BLOODLINE IN THIS AREA THERE IS ONE ELDER LEFT, AND HE IS MAKING ME TAKE ALL HIS BELONGINGS WITH ME IN MY MOVE, HE WAS MY GRANDFATHER'S BEST FRIEND,HE HAS COMPLETE SUITS AND OVER 200 YEARS OF PAPERWORK, BUT HE IS WORRIED ABOUT PASSING AWAY AND ALL THE HERITAGE BEING LOST, MY BLOODLINE COMES FROM WEST DAKOTA LAKOTA SIOUX...MY GRANDFATHER TOLD ME STORIES ABOUT MY GREAT GREAT GRANDFATHER AND IT STAYS WITH ME EVERY DAY, IT'S HEART BREAKING... I HAVE NO FAMILY LEFT HERE EVERY ONE IS PASSED AWAY EVEN MY YOUNGER BROTHER, BUT NOTHING BUT PAIN HERE... MUCH LOVE AND MANY BLESSINGS TO EVERYONE, BUT I NEVER FORGET”

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The Native friend I mentioned earlier who shared the CANM page also runs his own Native activism page. He shared the CANM page again and said:

"The most important page on my list.
You don't have to be a sunbeam to like rainbows."

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(5/22/2015)

God bless Ramone Romero.
And Creator bless you
For sharing this post
To your friends.

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(5/23/2015)

On this Memorial Day Weekend....I share this message that memorializes our past and our Ancestor.....
Please share these honest and heartfelt thoughts....Lest we forget!
Thank you A---- M----- for sharing [re-posting]!

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ᎤᎪᏗᏗ ᏩᏙ, ᎤᏁᎳᏅᎯ ᏥᏌ.

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