3rd Annual Acknowledging #Indigenous Peoples Day – Event on 24 Nov 2022

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On 24 November 2022, at the 3rd annual *Acknowledging #Indigenous Peoples Day* worldwide, I’ll be sharing my essay, “When I Think About America” and “Threatened by Beads”. My perspectives as a BIPOC person on history: past, present and future, both personal and societal. 

Description: “We are meaningfully appreciating wisdom from Native and Indigenous scholars and artists through music, indigenous stories, poetry, meditation, healing silence, and connection.”

In cooperation with AML Lab • Omnigi Research. http://omnigi.com.

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“Beyond the Bubble” – Dialogues at FH JOANNEUM University of Applied Sciences, Graz, Austria – 10 Nov

 
 
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A huge thanks to Birgit Bachler and participating students at FH JOANNEUM University of Applied Sciences in Graz, Austria for the invitation to speak yesterday, 10 November, in their lecture series, Beyond the Bubble. 

It was an opportunity to share different perspectives, realities & insights cross- and interculturally showing in educational, hands-on ways Natives/Indigenous persons are more than “bubblefied” stereotypes. 

That we can, do & even excel in many different fields, disciples, and have a variety of interests and skills. We can and often do talk about, enjoy & do things that are not directly Euro-assigned “Native/Indigenous” things. That practice is in itself stereotyping, limiting, compartmentalization. 

My Title: Beyond the Bubble – The Need for Variance.
“Recognizing and fulfilling the needs of adaptability and variance in harm free ways.”



Interested in learning more, have questions or queries as a speaker and other services?
Flying With Red Haircrow Productions, Cultural and Intercultural Competency & More. 
 

3 Nov in Saarland – Lecture: “Dismantling The Architecture and Refurbishment of Indigenous Trauma”

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DISMANTLING THE ARCHITECTURE AND REFURBISHMENT OF INDIGENOUS TRAUMA by Red Haircrow
03. November 2022, 19 Uhr. Ort: VHS Saarbrücken, Altes Rathaus, Raum 23

“In Germany and most of the world, the trauma North American Indigenous peoples experience is mostly believed to be from events in the past, focusing on direct methods and effects of invasion and colonization by Europeans. However, the cycle of genocide, of violence, erasure, and the silencing and „replacement“ of Native peoples never ended.

Despite tremendous efforts and greater availability of firsthand Indigenous sources of knowledge and history, the renovation and refurbishment of trauma continues in a variety of ways, from the persistence of Eurocentrism in curricula at all levels of education, to pop culture references and western societies, systems and structures as whole. Honest examination and humility is needed in examining the past and present history of Indigenous peoples, not only of North America and worldwide, but those of Europe and the unresolved trauma here, which connection is often overlooked or minimized.”

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“Two-Spirit” – Fiction, Facts & Misuse

There continues to be a lot of misinformation being shared about what “Two-Spirit” means, and Natives saying “No” are ignored just like when we say, stop cultural appropriation and misuse. Here’s the fact: if you are not Native/Indigenous, you are cannot be a Two-Spirit person and you should not be using the term to describe yourself or anyone else. It was a term created by Natives for Natives, and most Native nations and peoples have their terms in their languages also. The Dinéh (Navaho) refer to them as nàdleehé or ‘one who is ‘transformed’, the Lakota (Sioux) as winkte, the Mohave as alyha, the Zuni as lhamana, the Omaha as mexoga, the Aleut and Kodiak as achnucek, the Zapotec as ira’ muxe, etc.

My original post on the topic at redhaircrow.com was way back in 2010, “Two-Spirit-Tradition, History & Future”, so I wanted to do an updated version because my knowledge expanded also, from the wisdom of Native/Indigenous scholars, elders and elders-to-be. This is information I share and include in some workshops or presentations if applicable, or if someone asks about the term and its usage. Please recall all information on this and my personal website are our intellectual property, and require a written request for permission to reprint or use.

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Recently, I shared links to the free manuscript proof of forthcoming, “Suicide Prevention in Indigenous Communities”, which I worked on with others this past summer for (NASEM), National Sciences Engineering Medicines Academies. It was almost totally ignored even by those who say they want to learn more about Natives. It’s a collection of firsthand information, data and knowledge from some of the hard-working Natives today, elders, academicians, psychologists, doctors. One of the greatest sections was on Two-Spirit people from Sadie Heart of the Hawk Ali, their presentation “Being Two-Spirit” can be downloaded from this online source.

Sadie sharing important knowledge, “Two-Spirit people are not only trans-identified, gender or sexually variant, gender queer, asexual or other terms. We are all of those and none of those because Two-Spirit is a **spiritual term** that reflects back on the roles our Two-Spirit ancestors used to have in relation to their Nations. Natives who identify as Two-Spirit know we have a responsibility to our Nations, to learn our languages, to keep our ceremonies and protect our children. This was the main work of Two-Spirit people prior to colonization.

Two-Spirit people understand the roles Two-Spirit ancestors had, and how when a child was born into a nation and there was evidence this child had an affinity for work that didn’t align with the gender they were identified with at birth, there was a celebration. There was a big celebration and a feast, it was not the negative response seen in parents today, that they will now never have grandchildren. In fact, if something happened to the parents of a child, the child was given to the Two-Spirit people to raise because rather than reducing that person to someone with a male and female spirit living in one body, there was a spiritual aspect as well. Many Native nations believe Two-Spirit people have one foot in the spirit world and one in the physical, being able to see things that others cannot. Two-Spirit people were considered sacred.

Contrary to stereotypes and pop culture, all Native people are not people of medicine, pipe carriers, lodge keepers and sun dancers, and medicine is more than sage, tobacco, sweetgrass, cedar and corn pollen. Today, Two-Spirit people are engaged in the work of our Two-Spirit ancestors working in medicine, in the arts, in psychology, in law, and other fields that lift our people up. Many are in behavioral health fields, and this is not a coincidence. Not all have completed their “coming-in” processes, but Two-Spirit people are around, they are in your communities trying to recreate the ways of our ancestors in every field.”

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Reality: Even for Native/Indigenous persons, just because they are LGBTIIQ, non-binary etc. it doesn’t automatically make them Two-Spirit. Native/Indigenous LGBTIIQ people can BECOME Two-Spirits, but it is not an automatic thing. Indigenous people from other continents and places ALSO had their terms and words for such persons, which they should be using also. For example, in Pasifika, Mahu (Hawai’i and Tahiti), Vaka sa lewa lewa (Fiji), Palopa (Papua New Guinea), Fa’afafine (Samoa), Akava’ine (Rarotonga).

Solutions: If you are “white”, European, etc. research your peoples culture and history and find the original terms for persons like yourself, or work together with your people or “adopted” peers to create a term for yourselves. Stop appropriating and misusing Native/Indigenous terms, cultures and traditions. Why does this keep needing to be said? Why are the collective voices of Native peoples being ignored?  The answers to those questions goes straight back to Eurocentrism, privilege and learned behaviors that excuse ignoring someone’s “No”, for one’s own gratification, even if its violating their rights, dignity and life. That’s why we say symbolically to #ForgetWinnetou, which helped spread that practice against Native peoples.


VS SMSee our call for submissions for a poetry, prose & art anthology celebrating variance relating to this topic, it’s called Varied Spirits. Writers, photographers and artists of any kind or level who identify as transgender, non-binary, gender non-conforming, gender-queer, trans-feminine, trans-masculine, mtf, ftm etc.) and Native/Indigenous persons who identify as two-spirit.

Description: “We live in societies designed to crush our bodies and spirits, that seek to compartmentalize and confine us in every way, especially into heteronormative roles and bodies although gender, sexuality, even intelligence are naturally on a spectrum.

Variance, the state of being varied, is often seen as negative. Yet skills such as adaptability and variability helped our ancestors survive, and today are essential in gaining and maintaining balance, well-being and mindfulness. Being trans and/or also part of other minoritized or marginalized groups adds extras challenges for being accepted as who you are, of just living your life, of feeling safe in society, in your home, in your body.”

16 & 17 November Workshop in Berlin – “Allyship “Righting History – How Historical Amnesia and Omission Fuels the New Rise of Normalized”

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On 16 & 17 Nov, Red Haircrow will be doing workshops with xart splitta for “The Living Archives” and the topic Politics of Memories and Archives – the spaces in between.

The event will have both English and German segments. Register asap as space is limited as Covid19 precautions will be taken regarding personal distancing, etc.

Please visit their event announcement page for all details and the schedule for the two days of inspiring, enlightening & solidarity supporting gathering.



My Title: “Allyship “Righting History – How Historical Amnesia and Omission Fuels the New Rise of Normalized -Isms”.

Description: “The minimization or exclusion of the contributions, achievements and presence of women, non-Europeans and non-heteronormative people in history is common and also needs correction, but those omissions are more obvious.

However, the Eurocentrism in Western education systems and media also has another name most don’t associate with it and few “white people” recognize as such: white supremacist ideology. What are some of its forms, methods and tactics, and what can we do to right the wrongs written into the history of western society contributing to the current rise of hate, intolerance and ignorance.”


16./17. November ab 10 Uhr

Nachbarschaftshaus Urbanstraße

Diese Veranstaltung wird in-Präsenz, sowie digital stattfinden.
In deutscher und englischer Lautsprache, sowie deutscher Gebärdensprache mit Verdolmetschungen.

 

In Kooperation mit dem Nachbarschaftshaus Urbanstraße.

The Living Archives ist eine online Plattform zur Dokumentation, Archivierung und Weitergabe von Wissen aus und für BIPoC Communities. Es ist ein intersektionales, dekoloniales resistant-knowledge Projekt, durch und für BIPoC-Communities. Ziel ist es gebündelt (verlorene und/oder gelöschte) Inhalte und Wissen, das innerhalb von BIPoC Kontexten generiert wird/wurde, festzuhalten und für diese Communities wieder zugänglich zu machen.

 

An diesen zwei November Tagen wollen wir uns gemeinsame mit Fragen um die Herstellung und Sicherung von Wissen sowie dem bewegungspolitischem aktivistischem Erinnern widmen. 

Mit Keynotes, Panels sowie Workshops werden wir uns gemeinsam mit dekolonialen Wissens(re)produktionen und Politiken des Erinnerns auseinandersetzen. Die Prozesse um Wissen über intersektionale Diskriminierung bzw. über Lebensrealitäten, welche von der Norm abweichen, das Erinnern aktivistischer Kämpfe, Personen oder Orte sind grundlegend von struktureller Auslöschung betroffen oder werden in ihrer Existenzberechtigung an den Ränder der Gesellschaft gedrängt. Wir werden uns deswegen gemeinsam in die Zwischenräume begeben. Zwischenräume, in welchen unsere Geschichten erhalten und weitergegeben werden so das wir uns nun mit unseren widerständigen Prozessen aus den gesellschaftlichen Nischen und digitalen Subräumen heraus ausdehnen können.

Programm:

16. November

10.00h Ankommen
10.30h Begrüßung
11.00h Keynote “Black Deaf History” von Vincent Hesse (DGS)
11.45h Mittag
12.45h Panelgespräch “Verwoben mit Verwobene Geschichten – erinnerungspolitischer Aktivismus in digitalen Plattformen” mit Iris Rajanayagam, Juliana Kolberg und Latifa Hahn (Deutsche Lautsprache)
14.00h Workshop Phase I
Workshop 1: “EXPECT BIPOC_ism” mit Adetoun Küppers-Adebisi (Deutsche Lautsprache)
Workshop 2: Allyship “Righting History – How Historical Amnesia and Omission Fuels the New Rise of Normalized -Isms” mit Red Haircrow (English spoken language)
16.00h Netzwerk Austausch und Ausklang

17. November

10.00h Ankommen
10.30h Workshop Phase II (gleiche Gruppen und Workshops des ersten Tages)
12.30h Mittag
13.30h Panel “Deine, Meine, Unsere Erinnerungen” mit Nataly Jung-Hwa Han, Kenan Emini, Bahar Sanli und Juliana Kolberg (Deutsche Lautsprache)
15.00h Launch & Keynote “TRANCE” mit Sea Novaa (English spoken language)
16.00h Performance

Weitere Informationen über zu den Workshops und den Referent*innen.
Der öffentliche Teil der Veranstaltung wird simultan in deutscher und englischer Lautsprache und deutscher Gebärdensprache verdolmetscht. Die Workshops werden unterschiedlich verdolmetscht, weitere Informationen findet ihr bei den jeweiligen Workshopsbeschreibungen.

Anmeldung:
Die Teilnahme an der Veranstaltung ist nur mit vorheriger Anmeldung möglich. Manche Workshops sind als Safer Spaces konzipiert und nur für BIPoC zugänglich. Die Teilnehmer*innenzahl ist begrenzt. Menschen mit Diskriminierungserfahrungen werden in der Anmeldung bevorzugt.

Anmeldungen bitte bis Freitag, den 09.11.2022 an contact@xartsplitta.net.

Es wäre toll, wenn ihr bei eurer Anmeldung zu folgenden Punkten etwas schreiben würdet:

  • An welchem Workshop möchtest du teilnehmen?
  • Warum hast du dich für die Teilnahme an dem Workshop entschieden?
  • Auf welche Weise hast du dich bisher mit dem Thema beschäftigt?
  • Hast du Bedürfnisse oder brauchst du zur Teilnahme Unterstützung (z.b. Kinder Betreuung oder Sprachassistenz etc)?
  • Möchtest du online oder in-Präsenz teilnehmen

Remembering a special discussion at Brandeis University: “Modern #Germany’s #CognitiveDissonance on #Racism and its Roots in Karl May’s Legacy”

From the Brandeis University webpage of German and European Studies. The entire recording of the event can also be viewed on their site by visiting this link.

German Writers and Race: Modern Germany’s Cognitive Dissonance on Racism and its Roots in Karl May’s Legacy

In cooperation with the Department of Anthropology and the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Brandeis University

Monday, November 30, 2020
12-1:30 pm Eastern Time (US) / 6-7:30 pm German time
Zoom Webinar 

About the Event

Most Americans don’t know who Karl May is, and Germans no longer read his “American Indian” fiction that once inspired generations. Fewer still connect its legacy to persistent “acceptable” racism in all facets of German society, despite research clearly linking the stereotyping of “Others” to the rise of Eurocentrism, normalized intolerance and white supremacist ideology in Western society.  

Current situations regarding racism and cultural appropriation may have sprung from May’s seeds, but the sproutlings were grafted onto pre-existing trees. 

About the Film

“What does a world that respects Indigenous peoples look like, that’s working towards ending racism, colonialism, and other intersecting oppression on a global scale?” -Marcos, 2017

Forget Winnetou! is a documentary film project directed by Red Haircrow, on stereotypes of Native Americans in Germany, and how it is connected to wider issues of stereotyping, racial profiling and inequality towards all people of color throughout Europe and western society. We understand Winnetou, the fictional “Indian” character created by Karl May, who many Germans see as harmless and inspiring, can be a symbolic character/story reinforcing Native American stereotypes, and racism & colonialism in general.

While recognizing many Germans were first introduced to “natives” through May’s stories, developing a lifelong love of the characters, in combination with misinformation and Eurocentric or one-dimensional material in German society, a great imbalance has continued. A situation of “Loving in the wrong way”. For generations it has reinforced the attitude that Europeans can take whatever and whoever they want, even living peoples, and misinterpret and use them for self-gratification. We live in a world heavily damaged by those such practices and attitudes.

Still from the movie "Forget Winnetou"

We are asking Germany and the world to understand the very real effects of dismissive attitudes towards stereotyping, especially their effect on the young, and the misuse of Native identity and cultures. We want to help support and expand intercultural connections and correct the imbalances through accurate knowledge, and letting Natives represent and present themselves. We want Natives in North America to know and understand the depth of fetishization and exotification that occurs, although not always intentional, results in further objectification, dehumanization and erasure at the heart of so many issues, from daily discrimination to repatriation denials.

Still from the movie "Forget Winnetou"Germany is a microcosm of serious issues in western society: of increasingly blatant racism, xenophobia, and intolerance strengthened by strategically omitted or white-washed history involving people of color. We’ll show this through the lives and stories of Native Americans in their own words and experiences. We feel our documentary can be a learning experience introducing or furthering the process of decolonization and intercultural respect by inspiring viewers to ask themselves and hopefully realize, how beliefs, attitudes and practices they believe harmless are part of systemic racism that continues to oppress and divide. (Source: Vtape)

After you RSVP for the event (see link at top of the page), you will receive access information for watching the film prior to the event.

About the Speaker

D.S Red Haircrow is a writer, educator, psychologist and filmmaker of Native American (Chiricahua-Apache / Cherokee) and African American descent. They hold a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology and a Master’s in Native American Studies from the University of Montana Bozeman, and their work has been featured in journals, magazines, and exhibitions around the world. Their research interests include intergenerational historical trauma, autistic spectrum disorder, GLBTIIQ needs, and suicide prevention. Current projects include an educational RPG video game focusing on world Indigenous groups, continuation of research on stigma and prejudice related to mental disorders and conditions such as ASD, and the short documentary on these topics: ALMOST.

Various trailers and related excerpts from the film can be found here: https://vimeo.com/redhaircrow

31 Okt 2022 – “People of Colour” #POC – ein Gespräch über die Geschichte von Solidaritäten

Shared via xart splitta
Titel der Veranstaltung und Informationen zum Ort und Anmeldung sind abgebildet. Im Hintergrund eine Zeichnung eines Herzens unterlegt in Orange.

Montag, 31. Oktober 2022

19 Uhr, bei BIWOC* Rising

Dresdener Str. 11, 10999 Berlin

Die aktuelle Bedeutung von People of Colour prägte sich in den USA mit der Entstehung der Black-Power-Bewegung in den späten 1960er Jahren. Der Begriff sollte eine Gruppe an Menschen in ihren Kämpfen gegen rassistische Unterdrückung und in Absetzung zum Weißsein, solidarisch zusammenbringen. In den 1980/1990er Jahren wurde “People of Colour” in Deutschland in der diasporischen Bewegung aufgenommen. Seit dem bis heute haben wir die unterschiedlichsten Bezugspunkte zu dieser Selbstidentifikation entstehen lassen. Einiges an Mehrschichtigkeit ist notwendig, anderes durch Übersetzungsfehler oder Tokenism entfremdet. Im Rahmen von #CommunitiesSolidarischDenken beschäftigen wir uns dieses Jahr mit dieser Solidaritätskategorie und möchten hierfür Kontext schaffen.

Gemeinsam mit den Teilnehmer*innen der Fokusgruppe korientationBIWOC* Rising, dem RomaniPhen Archiv, May Zeidani Yufanyi, Red Haircrow und unserem Vorstand Saideh Saadat-Lendle und Iman Attia wollen wir am 31.10., ab 19 Uhr zu BIWOC* Rising einladen.

Mit euren Fragen und in einem offenen Gespräch im safer space möchten wir Geschichten teilen und uns bewegungspolitisch Erinnern mit den Aktivist*innen, die das Aufkommen von People of Colour beobachtet und selbst begleitet haben in Deutschland.

Diese Veranstaltung ist eine Einladung an BIPoC.
Bitte schreibt uns bei der Anmeldung einige Worte zu euch.
Es gibt eine begrenzte TN-Zahl, daher meldet euch bis 24.10. unter contact@xartsplitta.net an.

Informationen zu den Gesprächspartner*innen folgen in Kürze.

Die Illustration im Hintergrund ist von Jasmina El Bouamraoui @el.boum und Karabo Poppy Moletsane @karabo_poppy.

Be ready for November #NativeAmerican Heritage Month! Order our Award-winning #Documentary now for your orgs, university & school #filmscreenings

Order now to screen our award-winning documentary on the origin and effects of Native American stereotypes, just in time for November, which is Native American Heritage month. It is a documentary intended for audiences 12 and older, and has screened to positive reception at universities, gymnasiums, organizations and groups who are interested in helping create a better world and future for all peoples.

And we’re not a niché film nor an analysis of Karl May’s work! We leave that to the same demographic continuing to defend racist and sexist materials and romanticizing literature in which white supremacist ideology, misappropriation and Eurocentrism was common, no matter how nicely written.

Our film focuses on how the same mentality that ignores Indigenous rights to self-representation are often those who stereotype and gaslight GLBTIIQ people, women, the disabled or economically challenged, especially people of color just for desiring change and equality. It is basically saying, “My gratification is more important than your dignity, your rights or even your life.” This is a main facet of rape culture. It is intersecting oppression. 

How do we go forward together in a better way? Watch the trailer here, and previous clips from production.

WAYS TO WATCH!

  • Available with German or English subtitles.
  • Opportunities for Classroom, Campus, Organization & Library Screenings

  • If you are interested in also having Virtual or In-person panels with Filmmakers & Film Participants, please contact us via our form, which can be found on our FAQs page.
  • Streaming & Digital Site License Options – Please contact VTAPE, our Canadian based artist run distributer, to arrange your rental copy and/or screening copy. There are only a few DVD copies left for private use, but we hope to offer a streaming option for inviduals in the near future.

On Poverty Porn & “Voyeurs” of Native Peoples and Cultures – A New Excerpt from “#ForgetWinnetou! Loving in the Wrong Way”

 

A new excerpt using raw footage from our documentary on poverty porn and the voyeuristic quality of European, but especially German “observation” and misrepresentation of Native American cultures and peoples.

The willful stereotyping of Indigenous peoples and the racism, white supremacist ideology and especially the patriarchy utilized when those from the demographic which gained power through violence, genocide and exploitation of others believe they have the continued right over other peoples bodies, stories and narratives. They use systematic racist and sexist structures in industry and society created by those just like themselves, to continue to erase, replace and/or misrepresent/misuse other marginalized and minoritized peoples and groups.

It’s a deep societal problem that doesn’t just affect Natives. This is not a niche film or issue. The mentality that not only practices but defends the minimization, erasure and silencing of certain groups or peoples, is a widespread problem at the root of most every disaster, crisis and issue facing our world today. It’s at the root of imperialism, capitalism, climate crisis, consumerism and violation of rights of all kinds, past and present. We do not want it to be our future. We all should be committed to ending such practices, “protected status” and privilege right now. 

That’s why we say, “This is not about Winnetou. It’s about you and us. ALL of us.” That’s why we say it is far past time to symbolically unlearn and forget Winnetou, and all the practices, the behaviors, mindsets and value(less) systems that promote erasure, exploitation, fetishization and appropriation. 

 

Dialogue from the film: “It’s an unfortunate aspect of capitalism and white supremacy that people end up in a job they don’t necessarily like or exploiting parts of their identity that they would rather not but that’s how you survive. I often downplayed my (Native) identity and didn’t talk about it because I didn’t want to be forced to perform myself to be consumed by white Germans.

Unfortunately, that’s one of the only ways you can make money in Germany, and in Berlin especially. I met many people that all of the things they’d done and all the things they were became a marketing strategy to perform personal tragedies, migration stories, or poverty porn for Germans who consumed it because it made them feel like they’re open-minded, liberal and understanding of other people when they’re voyeurs basically.

I feel like one of the first important things to do is remove the emphasis on spectacle. If your only interaction and the way you interact with others is primarily through spectacle then it’s a very privileged position. It’s very focused, it’s pretty one way. It doesn’t have complexity. I feel that’s the starting point for people being able to interact with Native peoples, and people not like themselves in general.”

Our documentary is available on DVD for private use, but there’s only 25 copies now left in our stock! Once they’re gone, they’re gone.

Organizations, institutes, universities, etc. are encouraged to contact VTape, the non-profit artist run distribution company based in Canada, which can provide screening and institutional copies for rent or purchase.

We have continued to search for a European or especially a German distributor or studio to broadcast, but no matter how open-minded, diversity conscious and anti-racist many claim to be, we’ve not been able to find one despite our award-winning status and social justice, human rights contentiousness of our film.

“Native’ hobbyism Is modern day #Colonialism” my op-ed at @CBC @cbcdocs & The Things Forgotten in All these “Debates” on “#Multiculturalism” & #CulturalAppropriation

After documentary filming with Drew Hayden Taylor in Berlin-Kreuzberg

Following my participation, albeit a small but contextually accurate part, in “Searching for Winnetou”, the 2018 documentary film on Indian hobbyism, with a million dollar budget very different than my own, both in finances and tone, I was invited to write an op-ed published to CBC Docs. I talk about the matters in the news the past days, but also discuss some important realities and people ALWAYS IGNORED BY GERMAN MEDIA AND SOCIETY whenever Winnetou, Indian hobbyism, cultural appropriation and racism are mentioned.

‘Native’ hobbyism Is modern day colonialism
Hobbyists believe they are better representatives of Indigenous peoples, taking and using whatever they want for self-gratification.

My Background as Informative on Multiculturalism & the Difference between “White” vs. “non-White” Behaviors

One of the many things some people never think about or even consider, which is a reality faced daily by persons like myself in Germany who may have written about or become “labeled” as a critical of “German culture” (aka cultural appropriation) and Native stereotypes. What those who most often interact with me, only is a product of stereotypes and stereotyping, the dehumanization of Natives, BIPOC or other people of color, that even some who are anti-racist rarely think about. It’s dehumanization because there is ZERO interest in me, but only in what I can perform or supply for others.

My research focuses have long been Indigenous intergenerational historic trauma, which inevitably includes that of Indigenous and original peoples of Europe. I’ve a Master’s in Native/Indigenous Studies, which many assume relates only to Natives of North America as if those total 13 years of combined higher education didn’t include extensive study of European history (past and present), cultures and world civilizations also. Besides my own personal interests and studies since I was a child who happened and was thankful to grow up in an extremely multicultural environment. They don’t think about it, which is fine enough, but its almost always done without according the same regard they would show a white peer working in similar topics, which they assume to have an interest in and having studied cultures other than their own. This is a critically important realization that needs acknowledgement. It is such a common demeaning, undermining and harmful attitude and position POC academics, scholars and professionals face in Germany, even from many Germans who believe themselves open-minded, anti-racist and “global” citizens.

My upbringing was very different than the way I see some Germans believes makes them “open-minded” and appreciative of all cultures because they grew up in Berlin , Köln or Frankfurt with mostly topical access to or ability to observe or perform “cultures”. I talked about it before, for example in this panel at DBS Studios moderated by cultural consultant Cavana Hazleton-Lee, “Can you copyright culture?” I grew with close friends from Taiwan, Hawaii, Germany, Spain, Hungary, Puerto Rico, Korea and Japan, where we ate most meals together, we had sleepovers between us children. I went to dance and languages classes with them, they went to get-togethers with us. I was able to learn and listen to firsthand experiences from other cultures, at their knees, learn about their cultures by helping prepare their foods, tend their gardens and doing handwork or learning musical instruments.

When we were grew up, they cared for our children, too, feed them food from their mouths and rocked them to sleep. We cared for theirs. Here in Germany, what I experienced was Germans may invite you to their homes, but coming to yours? That’s a different story. They may invite your children over to a party, but their children go to your home, let alone have a sleepover? That’s a very different story. Parts fear-based behaviors but also a control/trust factor. Somewhat natural behaviors, of course with one’s children, but POC are treated very differently than white peers.

I began studying genocide, political history when I was 7 or 8 years old, as a European Jewish and others Holocaust survivor from Germany was a part of our group. Her perpetual sadness touched me deeply, and I wanted to know about it, not just certain years, but what was the psychological lead-up to a country and peoples deciding genocide was acceptable, especially as both sides of my family, whether African or Native American, were also subjected to an ongoing genocide. I spoke about that in my personal essay on Medium, “When I Think About America.”

I mention this because the topic of cultural appropriation, misuse and abuse in Germany is both terrible and understandable to me. Like other European peoples, newer designations and originals, there’s been cultural loss but the overwhelming majority was at the hands of their European peers. This must be stated every time. Natives suffered later from what Europeans first did to their own. That doesn’t excuse appropriating cultures or parts of cultures from others to escape one’s trauma. That only continues cycles of violence. We see this a lot in Germany, and its recognized and expressed not just by POC, and shouldn’t be used (but is) by those claiming stopping racist, appropriation of Native cultures is “taking something away from us (Germans!!).”

I and others like me are examples of how you do not have to culturally appropriate, misuse or abuse, and you can be part of other cultures and peoples in a very personal way individually when you are informed, welcomed, rooted. In fact, if I had to create a film, a piece of art or narrative about myself or upbringing, it would have to include my perceptions and experiences with cultures not my own. But whether that or anything else, it absolutely needs to involve Cultural Humility. Germany, as a whole, does not have this or teach it. It’s just the opposite. In the majority of Europe and western society, from a young age people are not only taught to consume, but to see it as innocent exploration or appreciation, and later to justify it and reject any criticism. Largely without knowing anything about the history, origin and effects of such Eurocentric behaviors and practices or the history, cultures and narratives of those people FROM those peoples.

The Things Forgotten in All These Discussions & “Debates”

Like I said above, you don’t have to be culturally appropriative and abusive, dismissive or reductive in interacting with other cultures. When I make kimchi at home, having learned to both grow all the ingredients needed and to make it by a still very close family friend who is Korean, I would never create a business selling it, small or large. I wouldn’t write about it for my non-Korean friends to consume either. Some of my closest who-still-are friends growing up was a German-Mexican family, the father was a German soldier and engineer who came to work at the same Army base my father was stationed at in the USA. He’d met his Mexican to-be-wife when she was living in Germany with her family. Their kids are my sister and I’s age. Summer parties, sleepovers, and many sports outings together. When I wasn’t getting along with my parents, they listened. Of course, there was the age difference, but earlier this year when I heard the wife had passed away, I called to talk to the husband. Now, at age 50 and 80+ years old, it was more relationally balance of mature experiences.

One of the things he shared with me was that his father had been a higher ranking Nazi official who had been stationed and oversaw operations in Yugoslavia. It was chilling to learn. He said that was why he had always especially wanted to live in and support a multicultural experience for his children, as he knew personally supremacist and Eurocentric thinking of any kind, any level, was inherently violent and harmful. He asked me if he had ever made me feel different or less than, and I responded that I had not. In fact, one of my outstanding memories of him was his taking the time to teach me the game “Tiddly-Winks”, when I had felt shy during the first sleepover. Another example that adult and child interactions can be innocent and supportive, not predatory, which is based on the adults behavior. He and I had a great conversation. I felt GOOD.

I mention all of this because there is always the possibility and option to not be abusive, appropriative or predatory. There is always the possibility or option the educating oneself and relearning how to better interact with others, and have humility to make changes in one’s learned behaviors, practices and beliefs. Many people choose not to do so, even when offered, even with the opportunity now more than ever before in history to receive firsthand knowledge. Yet this is not to say, that an upbringing like mine is the only way to have respect for other cultures. It is very much about how one is taught.

Another close friend I met while studying then working in law enforcement, grew up in a small town of about 600 people in Alabama, an entirely “white” town where POC were not allowed. He had never met a POC in person until he went to college in another city in the early 90s. He was raised to respect all cultures, to be anti-racist, curious and humble. He is an excellent example of what is possible, and in fact, was from a German immigrant family on both sides, with an entirely German name. If you didn’t know, Alabama was mostly settled by Germans especially through the mid-regions of the state. German is the 3rd most common European language spoken in the USA, and in the area I grew there were also 1st and 2nd gen German families, and thus bakeries, restaurants, culture groups, etc.

The summary of this post & my sharing of the above personal stories and experiences, is this quote from my op-ed for CBC Docs.

“Some Germans are culturally sensitive
In the midst of this racism, there are positive stories that we don’t hear about either. There are Germans who have learned better ways to appreciate and respect Indigenous cultures. Some have stopped dressing up and practice culturally responsible empathy. They recognize the part that white people have played in the exploitation of Indigenous people and want to stop it in all forms. They use their white privilege to improve intercultural understanding and work with Indigenous peoples on Indigenous terms (for example, the Native American Association of Germany).

Not all interest in Indigenous cultures and peoples is exploitative.

German media rarely if ever talks to such people, or if they do, exactly as Carmen Kwasny, the chairperson of the Native American Association of Germany, personally relayed to me, they are treated with antagonism, they are demeaned or even accused of betraying their race or trying to replace Natives. There are positive intercultural collaborations happening ALL of the time here in Germany, and across western society, but they rarely ever make the news. Instead, we are all bombarded by, if not outright white-centric often male focused opinions, commentaries, films, etc. then also the same demographic using other cultures in appropriative ways sometimes backed by a token or supporting Native or POC to justify in a “I can’t be racist, I have a Black friend!” kind of way. And they don’t just treat Native cultures and peoples that way, speaking over, silencing or “interpreting” them with little personal, extended knowledge, but women, the disabled and others, also. Any of their own peers they speak out about it or try to change such behaviors soon find themselves bullied, ridiculed and out of job, but still rarely with the structural power and force to oppress that POC are subjected to daily.

There are no positive effects from colonialism or white supremacist, patriarchal, Eurocentric, structurally racist, sexist, ableist systems dominant in western society, with its power gained from horrific, persistent discrimination and violence, psychological, verbal, emotional and physical of ANYONE they deem unacceptable. THIS MUST BE CHANGED FOR THE VERY SURVIVAL OF OUR WORLD. Please pay attention that I did not state that passively, such as “it must change”. No, there must be active steps to change this damaging, discriminatory systems privileging a small segment of one demographic. This is not to be misconstrued to be an attack on “white men”, but specifically to patriarchy, because those type of men of mainly white European heritage continue to destroy and abuse the best and brightest of their own peers, too.

I might word the quote below differently, but this is a solid summary of my and many, many others feelings, especially POC, marginalized, minoritized groups who have to daily face and often fight alone, even our children too often have too, when facing the societal crimes and effects of racism, white supremacist ideology, Eurocentrism and sexism/misogyny. Yet I and many of us continue to show solidarity with others, but aren’t often reciprocated in visible, tangible positions of resistance and opposition by those of “white” or those of primarily European heritage. And those who do, they also get forgotten by media and society. Cross cultural solidarity and support absolutely, but remember also, that we are often exhausted or frustrated when constantly expected to respond, listen to or be “informed” about similar shitories (this was initially a mistake in typing but I left it because it fits!), which are used to center “white” experiences yet again. That’s failure or lack of ability to actually be allies or work in solidarity by self-centeredness, a foreign concept and behavior in any Indigenous or original culture.

Don’t fall victim to or accept the deliberate twisting of positive statements, movements and terms like “woke and wokeness”, Black Lives Matter, and #MeToo, which have been used recently by some “experts” and German media to gaslight and victimize those who criticize and resist racism, sexism and patriarchy. Learn accurate definitions of racism, Eurocentrism, and eurocentric are educate yourself on contextual, historic and contemporary usage and applicable of those terms, which are almost always used to support racism, xenophobia and bigotry and to center “whiteness as rightness”.

“The word ‘woke’ has been purposely repurposed to deter the very work that people focused on awareness about injustice and on the urgent need to eradicate injustice were centering the word to accomplish.

Many have distorted a positive narrative so that injustice can persist.” -Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.