Shared from original post at redhaircrow.com, yet another reason why Indigenous Knowledge and History is World History. It’s all the things that have been deliberately omitted or heavily loaded with Eurocentrism, strategically written with heroize acts of aggression, invasion and colonization.
“Throughout history, a country’s economic and military strength has influenced its times of cultural splendor and the rise of famous intellectuals and artists. Spain has been an exception to this. At the turn of the 20th century, a surprising series of events that no one could have predicted occurred. At the time, Spain had recently lost the last of its overseas colonies.”
“The loss of the last of its overseas colonies”…. crooned the text, but the Spanish invaded, raped, pillaged, murdered then occupied areas around the world. Many were pedophiles and torturers who committed unbelievably horrific acts of brutality to subdue and control the enslaved and exploited peoples, and yet like Christopher Columbus, were whitewashed and hailed as brave explorers and intrepid travelers.
After enormous loss, the Indigenous peoples such as in the Philippines, finally overthrew the Spanish invaders with the help of the USA, who immediately betrayed them. They are still, over a hundred years later, working to decolonize their minds, bodies and lands, and regain their rightful situation of self-determination from the Euro-serving figureheads in power. They’re are still tallying the totals of what was stolen from them. It is without measure, but with the resilience that is inherent, many are in the process of resurgence and revitalization.
In the case of this research paper, this reality is glossed over to highlight the struggle of another group from within the Spanish population. While the research paper lovingly details the struggles of common Spanish citizens against the privileged class, they utterly ignored how Spain has benefited from the genocide of others, especially people of color. It is with great irony, looking around at all the rich cathedrals and bank coffers full of billions plundered from colonies, that many people of color describe Spain as the most racist European country. Except for a few white Americans, since I’ve been in Germany, I’ve actually never been openly called a racist term or slur, except by Spaniards.
Of course, a single research paper cannot encompass all materials and perspectives, but in the writing that is included, there shouldn’t be this continual erasure and minimization of European colonial brutality. It continues historical amnesia and reinforces the many fabrications, twisting of facts or hiding of truth that is taught in European schools about colonialism. Naturally, this produced generations who doubt actual truth, because they have been so thoroughly deceived by their own systems. Some wish you to educate them, although that should be their own responsibility. They need to do that work themselves first, without expectation that POC should drop info on their command or expectation.
Also, this all lends itself to pity wars, the “my struggle is harder than yours!” cries so often espoused by white European feminists, gays or a younger generation that has carefully been coddled by “PC” or politically correct labels that omitted any of the harsher, bigoted realities of the world. Realities that, past and present, People of Color, including little children, have to deal with everyday. That Indigenous peoples have to live with, the scars on their minds, bodies and lands, including those of Europe.
The sympathetic hero-izing of the European, singular or collective in literature, in film, in museums, in every facet of western society, and the total omission of the brutality, the enslavement or even obliteration of the Indigenous, the “Other”.
That these primarily white Europeans perpetuate the created patriarchal, ableist model in their appropriation, minimization and/or passive/aggressive resentment of people of color and their cultures, sometimes accompanied by antagonism and derision? It’s frustrating. It’s exhausting. It’s maddening to deal with, especially when they’re still trying to achieve a pinnacle for acceptance, validation, and yes, vindictive vindication over all others, using methods they claim to be rejecting. Or when they want you to support/join/help them when they don’t respect/understand/care about you, and may actually minimize the struggles of POC who share their same issues. Whether it is women’s issues, a disability or whatever, POC deal with those IN ADDITION to discrimination simply on the color of their skin. Western society’s perpetual centering of self is very different from the encompassing circle so often seen in Indigenous cultures anywhere in the world, including those in Europe.
Although I mention appropriation, it is no surprise that some Europeans wish to escape from the families, peer groups, societies and pseudo-cultures where self-gratification and -centeredness is the norm. They seek to find belonging in the beliefs, ceremonies and traditions of other cultures, but too often because of learning colonial behaviors and practices, (link) they “love” in a wrong way. They did not learn empathy. They were not taught. Being empathetic does not serve them in western society, their societies. They were unfortunately imbued with privilege and entitlement to take and use whatever and whomever they want. They didn’t learn that such practices and mindsets also harm them and the environment.
It’s no wonder so many are prone to self-medication and vice, simply because they are hungry and thirsty for true connection and acceptance from others. They are searching for meaning, and want to be believe in something, yet learning to and experiencing trust is all too often non-existent as well. And then on top of it all, to be told, “That’s just the way the world is! Some will always be rich, and others will be poor. Some will always get hurt, be upset, or deprived by your doing whatever is necessary to succeed…but you deserve it!” How cruel and unnatural. This is trauma informed, fear based paranoia. The rationalization of unhealed, untreated pain.
This kind of attitude and teaching makes people cruel to others. We see this casual cruelty daily, everywhere you look, but some of us also see the empty eyes and spirits. I see this very much in Germany, but am also thankful to see those trying to live in a good way, to right the many historical wrongs, and who do so with all their hearts. This is also another example how only using European and Eurocentric material continues to spread the centering of any European knowledge and history above all others, creating and reinforcing layer upon layer of resentment, delusion and un/imbalance in the world. It makes cultural appropriation, exploitation and capitalistic endeavors the “lesser” of evils, when they are all part of the cycle of genocide.
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.
Read the full article at link: “Haircrow says publishers tend to look for “recognizably Indigenous” stories. “It forces the Indigenous person to limit themselves if they want to get published in a traditional way,” he says. “They limit what readers are receiving. It’s a huge disservice to readers and to the writers.”
Recently in Zeitwissen, a section within Die Zeit, one of the largest news sources in Germany, an article was published on the need of Indigenous knowledge in natural sciences to help salvage and repair the climate crisis, a large part of which nuevo European values and practices unleashed on our world. Myself and other Indigenous peoples were asked to comment on how Indigenous knowledge can be of use in natural sciences. Me being me, I came at it from a slightly different, but critically important angle.
“Like Indigenous cultures and peoples, Indigenous knowledge is often “primitized” and stereotyped in a Eurocentric way. Yet Indigenous knowledge and methodologies are based on equitable values beneficial to all life, and they have positive application for everything from psychology to astrophysics, education to engineering.”
“Wie indigene Kulturen und Gruppen wird auch indigenes Wissen oft “primitized” und stereotyp auf eurozentrische Weise dargestellt. Indigenes Wissen und indigene Methoden beruhen jedoch auf gerechten Werten, die allen Lebewesen zugute kommen, und haben positive Auswirkungen auf alle Bereiche von der Psychologie bis zur Astrophysik, von der Bildung bis zur Ingenieurwesen.”
Much of the time, the majority insists on minimizing, defending or ignoring such practices, and fail to see how such behaviors extend to all aspects of life, particularly industries and business world, too. Some completely disregard the obvious intersectionality of Indigenous racism, to other forms of normalized bigotry, prejudice and bias, and to sexism, ableism, Eurocentrism.
“Your credentials are quite nice, and yes, more psychologists are needed in Germany, but we don’t have any Native clients.”
What’s wrong with this statement? Yet I’ve heard it time and time again, from supposed educated and non-racist people. Simply being Native in Germany, unless you’re dancing (oh wait, it has to be “traditional in feathers!” or in a job considered not academic, often finds you unemployed, politely rejected, even gently rebuked by puzzled professionals who are mystified how you, a psychologist, educator, professional who happens to be Native (or some other “non-white”) practitioner could possibly help their almost exclusively white clients. As if you being Native (or non-white) you are only able to help persons like yourself, in the way many of those prejudiced limited and compartmentalize themselves, excluding “Others”.
As if simply being non-white makes you less professional, less relevant, less well-read or that your methods (as if you haven’t studied the same materials as they the same 10+ years) are primitive even dangerous! When in fact, IN ADDITION to that, you have the experiences, observations, knowledge and intellect beyond theirs. They also know many of their clients or patients, or even other staff who are white German are unapologetically prejudiced against “Others”. So there are also times where you might be hired, but your co-workers treat you abysmally with the flippant comment, “Well, what did you expect!” or your work and person are so underappreciated and criticized, the emotional burden takes it toll. They also do this to “their own” also who might also try to improve racist, sexist, ableist, Eurocentic situations. “To name is the problem is to become the problem.”
So in this, they are failing their clients, don’t really want the best or better for their clients. Think this stuff through. It matters. It really does, but especially in psychology where non-European peoples have suffered greatly at the hands of psychiatrists and psychologists, many of whom are entrenched or apologists of racial hierarchies and eugenics. A pattern and history Germany shares with the USA.
But not only that, the abuses, subtle and unsubtle derision, dismissal and minimization are also heaped upon their own peoples and demographic group. There are many, many reasons why so many people distrust and avoid psychologists unless at extremis. I’ve heard so many horror stories. And the German equivalent of the USA’s Psychological Association, literally says on their website, unless its white psychology methods or beliefs, its dangerous! Deep deep racism and Eurocentrism.
“I can’t help you. I don’t come from an immigrant background” is a phrase actually told an ethnic professional by their therapist, who had taken their experiences personally and become angry, as if the client’s speaking about the racism they daily experienced was attacking her, the psychologist. Too many “western” practitioners with egoism and value system of self-centeredness, competitive and skeptical retraumatize their own patients, whatever their background or heritage. (Reference.)
And, of course, this is across all industries in western society but particularly done in an often polite yet still inherently brutal Eurocentric way in Germany. Whether you’re trained as an artist, an engineer, or whatever, these fear based privileged practices that revel in stereotyping and (mis)labeling are a huge part of the continuing and actually rising normalized (and structual) racism, hate, xenophobia and selfishness especially in this time of Corona Pandemic.
“My lamentation for those lost goes beyond nationalistic or even personal, but down to the root of humanity that empathizes and actually feels the others. That day, it was if a part of my flesh were cut away, and those people were MY people, but I didn’t make it a cause for further hatred and intolerance of others as so many have done.
And for all they died in such terror, I feel a peace for them now. They are all there. They are at rest and don’t have to endure such as we anymore. They will only know joy, however and by whomever or whatever supplies it. That is my belief, so I can embrace them, and though it still can hurt, I am not consumed by agony. Though I hate how they died, I won’t let their deaths make me into something that exists with hate or darkness.
The man who jumped to his death from the building, the one caught by Richard Drew in the photo called “The Falling Man,” made me think of this quote:
“When it comes time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.” —Chief Aupumut, Mohican 1725
P.S. 9/11 has become a rallying cry and touch point in modern America, where each may and are required to imagine those last terrible moments for so many, and use it to fuel their convictions. Usually against anything or anyone stereotyped to be Muslim, anything or anyone as a threat to the USA superiority or justice. Yes, heavy irony there.
Wounded Knee, Sand Creek, Jamestown, Staten Island (bet you didn’t even think of that one), Rhode Island, a thousand more, known and unknown in whitewashed history of Native American genocide. As strong and poignant, by nature of our spirits and beings, and because of our connection to each other past and present, be it a hundred years ago or a thousand times thousands, Native Americans don’t forget, especially in that American selective memory, concern and altruism is hypocritical. It’s just another “order of the day”.
A well written thesis, and one of the few were the author actually added my rightful credentials alongside other academics, and added directed quotes. Many writers who have quoted me in the past fail to add my university credentials, referring to me as just as a blogger or an activist, aka someone just complaining about situations.
In western society, with its elitist Eurocentric system of expertise and worthiness to speak on a topic reserved for mostly white males with university degrees made possible due to centuries of privilege and precedence, failure to add the credentials of a person of color is beyond problematic. Whether a honest omission or not, it is clearly known in academia and society that POC are often ignored or minimized, and only slightly more regarded when compared to European peers, if holding a degree. Degrees almost always attain through far greater hardship, and having to battle structural racism within institutions that see them receive lesser marks for comparable work, lack of support from advisory and university staff, plus the microaggressions of curricula, teachers and other students. We see the effects in academic staff retention but also in hiring practices, which are widely discriminatory for a list of reasons.
There is also a distinct patronizing air towards scholars and universities in eastern Europe as well, particularly from far western Europe and the UK. However, on the topic of Native hobbyism, cultural appropriation and cognitive imperialism, I have experienced far more progressive thinking from the east. I have had many more inquiries from people from Eastern Europe not just seeking resources to learn accurate information, but advice on how they can take actual steps to correct misinformation in their education systems and communities. In Germany, there is still a large amount of defensiveness and attempted justification for racist and neo-colonist practices on all levels of society, from the media to the Kita.
This is just one of the many positive examples.
(Personal photo of a magazine, in which there was an article on Indian hobbyists.)
This all really brings to mind the article I published in Medium last month,“WHEN I THINK ABOUT AMERICA” and that this is Indigenous values vs. Western values in a nutshell. Being giving/sharing, concerned about community, cooperation vs. competitive, self-centered, taking/saving (while others are in need), skeptical.
The excerpt is from a letter: By Dr. Sharkawy On COVID-19: “I’m a doctor and an Infectious Diseases Specialist. I’ve been at this for more than 20 years seeing sick patients on a daily basis. I have worked in inner city hospitals and in the poorest slums of Africa. HIV-AIDS, Hepatitis,TB, SARS, Measles, Shingles, Whooping cough, Diphtheria…there is little I haven’t been exposed to in my profession. And with notable exception of SARS, very little has left me feeling vulnerable, overwhelmed or downright scared. Mostly, I’m scared what message we are telling our kids when faced with a threat. Instead of reason, rationality, open-mindedness and altruism, we are telling them to panic, be fearful, suspicious, reactionary and self-interested.”
“The danger to the global poor has been almost totally ignored by journalists and Western governments. History shows that poorer people and countries suffered most from epidemics. The Spanish Flu of 1918 is just one example.”
“The outbreak has instantly exposed the stark class divide in healthcare: those with good health plans who can also work or teach from home are comfortably isolated provided they follow prudent safeguards. Public employees and other groups of unionized workers with decent coverage will have to make difficult choices between income and protection.
Meanwhile millions of low wage service workers, farm employees, uncovered contingent workers, the unemployed and the homeless will be thrown to the wolves.”
To be able to stockpile material goods, one must have savings, money. Money beyond the paycheck-to-paycheck or for us freelancers, with jobs, universities and other venues closing, that can mean we have zero income. As freelancers or those in jobs with less benefits, you have to make the choice between becoming homeless, without even basic necessities and going out to try to find some paying work, exposing yourself to the virus. Just in self-quarantining as suggested, but with little or no food, necessities anyway, especially if you have children or pets, may need medications? That is the reality for millions, and can only increase even if strictures loosen in the next weeks, as the economies of all countries will take a significant hit. So for those saying, “Calm down! Just stay at home.” I’m absolutely sure, you have necessities, you have savings, you have those privileges that help you to better remain calm.
While many of us are not in the demographics currently being affected fatally, the issue of lung damage will remain if you contract and survive covid19. That doesn’t go away. The short-sighted thinking and self-centered “every man/woman for himself”, and that eternal European rationalization “I’m just trying to take care of my family!” while knowingly contributing to behaviors and practices that take or reduce the lives of others…. We’ve seen an upswing in racism, xenophobia and cruelty, there’s no other word for it, in western society in the last couple of decades. What’s happening now is no surprise.
Where I live in Germany, the city I live, in a rather out-lying district, I’ve been out trying to find some goods to get us by. But when you have little money anyway the crazy rush to buy up toilet paper, hand sanitizer and non-perishables isn’t something you can do. While many shelves are empty, and of course, many older people have to go out to get basic goods, many of them too cannot stockpile because it is a matter of not being able to carry many packages home. I’ve seen people of that demo actually being more kind than before. But, honestly, the racism, white supremacist behaviors and privileged ugliness I’ve experienced in Germany has been from the middle-aged to younger generation. Many of whom are convinced they have it harder or as hard as anyone else, including POC, and using the aforementioned mindsets to aggressively go about life offending, lacking empathy, and being self-centered to an absurd but allowed degree. Or conversely, blithely minimizing the very real and serious inequalities others are experiencing, while “improving” themselves using their resources of privilege.
In times of crisis like this, it seems some of the old people haven’t forgotten what it means to have nothing. To be without, and without any hope of relief. Community, commitment to each other, trust, respect, and fellow feeling. Not romanticizing anything, as 20th century German history is a brutal mess of death and trauma, but in my area at least, and thus far, I couldn’t imagine happening here what we see going on in the USA.
For us, because we’ve had such a financial hardship in the last three years when we had to end up producing and funding this film alone, living on the edge, always close to homeless and with little or no prospects? This pandemic is notable, but our daily lives and living hasn’t changed much. Indigenous peoples have already been living in a post-apocalypse for a long time because of European colonization. We keep going on as long as we can, and we know crying doom, saying things like “Life is meaningless” or “It’s just the flu!” nonsense is also privileged behavior.
We are not immune to stress, anxiety, hopelessness and depression, but our values help keep us from giving up and/or harming others. We will still help each other, and others as we can, even when we have little or nothing because we believe that is the right and moral thing to do. To do otherwise, I believe is to surrender your heart, your spirit, and ultimately your life. It is great to know there are people from other cultures and groups, who remember their own collective-focused roots, and reject the self-centered rationalizations of western society as a whole, and which the virus pandemic has clearly revealed.