Where Some Ideas Are Stranger Than Others...
The Most Dangerous People (2018-02-12)
I knew what was coming. I edged around the various newspapers and news sites. Studiously averted my eyes when the headlines showed up and I couldn't avoid them. Took a deep breath. Tried to look at other things. Kept reminding myself of other stories, other happenings. A great feel-good one from out in Stó:Lo territory. Grinding my teeth and avoiding obnoxious olympic coverage with its pukeworthy "feel good" commercials about how canadians value "our land."
Because I didn't want one more piece of proof, one more piece of evidence that the settler state of canada considers Indigenous people little more than dangerous animals who have to be put down as fast as possible. Little better than the wolves that get slaughtered as soon as they are reintroduced to their territories – sound familiar? Little better than the bears that half-starved and hemmed in more and more by humans resort to raiding garbage cans and kitchens, only to be killed, or if they are supposedly lucky, drugged and dumped off somewhere far outside of their own territories – sound familiar?
I didn't need to hear about how a carefully culled white jury decided that a sleeping Indigenous man is so dangerous that an old white man can walk up quietly and execute him with a shot through the back of his head because he felt "threatened." Indigenous man, asleep, supposedly drunk or smelling like it I guess. That's enough to feel threatened when you're a white man. So threatened as to be sure that if you don't kill first, that guy will get you.
Everybody knows how threatening Natives are. I read Ryan McMahon's latest article on vice.com. Thought about how much sounded familiar. Diving out of the way of cars driven by white people, white people driving fast, ignoring the crosswalk, lurching towards me across the median. The constant hovering presence of clerks in every store, always pushing, pushing, pushing, to get me back out the door. Don't drink, don't smoke, don't smell like pot, don't smell like alcohol, especially if you're female. Sound familiar?
Everybody knows how threatening Indigenous women and girls are! Read Robert Jago on MediaIndigena for an example, right from the Stanley courtroom. After all, why else would the numbers of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls be ticking up every day. Murders uninvestigated, trafficking winked at, survivors of rape informed in the courtroom that they only had themselves to blame since they were drunk/intoxicated/improperly dressed/around men. So threatening. So threatening that no violence is too much, no violence against them counts. Sound familiar?
There was a lady everybody called Old Mary in a town I grew up in. She was feisty and dirt poor. The cops made a habit of arresting her for vagrancy, public drunkenness, the usual. Then one year, she died. Somehow she managed to freeze to death, after surviving the bitter winters just fine for years. For decades. The word went around. Starlight tour. Sound familiar? But this is the era of reconciliation, reconciliation. Sound familiar?
Sophie McCall wrote in 2011, "While reconciliation prioritizes the expiation of the colonizer's sense of guilt, it places the onus upon the colonized to end longstanding conflicts." So the onus on Indigenous people is, don't be threatening. But we're threatening when we're awake. We're threatening when we're asleep. We're threatening when we're sobre. We're threatening when we're drunk. We're threatening when we're female. We're threatening when we're male. We're threatening when we're old. We're threatening when we're young. We're threatening when we're working. We're threatening when we're unemployed. We're threatening when we're peaceful. We're threatening when we're fighting back. We're threatening when we're alive.
Try reading it again. Sophie McCall wrote in 2011, "While reconciliation prioritizes the expiation of the colonizer's sense of guilt, it places the onus upon the colonized to end longstanding conflicts." When the topic of "Aboriginal people and the justice system" comes up, the discussion is always about how to make the structures that railroad Indigenous people into jail on the flimsiest pretences and the jails themselves "more culturally sensitive." Sound familiar? Ever heard anybody talk about how the justice system needs to be repaired so that Indigenous people actually get justice from it? Bet that doesn't sound familiar.
Read it again. Sophie McCall wrote in 2011, "While reconciliation prioritizes the expiation of the colonizer's sense of guilt, it places the onus upon the colonized to end longstanding conflicts."
Now tell me. Tell me why I should believe, tell me why any Indigenous person should believe, that the onus being placed on us to end longstanding conflicts is not for us to hurry up and die.