Blog 1835 – 10.02.2020
The First Strawberries
The First Strawberries
Like many of my contemporaries I grew up with a family legend of there being a full blooded Native American princess in my family tree. As it turns out for me and the vast majority, such claims upon investigating the reliable genealogy records can seldom be substantiated. Nevertheless, I have read as many books as I can find regarding the First People, beginning with Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, and I feel a spiritual kinship with them. Many groups were marginalized and mistreated (and continue to be) by the so called Manifest Destiny idea of American Exceptionalism, which is really code for a handful of rich and powerful white guys are the true American Ideal. It is as my Native American Princess heritage a myth. The American Culture has always been built upon the backs of poor whites and people of color. White is a color by the way, so we are all colored people. But sadly we live in a world not just a country too long dominated by white men who said then and continue to say and think silly things today like, “free, white, and twenty one” – proud boys who still discount the value of women and people of color, rich and poor.
I have included several Native American or First People Stories in my David Reads Children’s Books project. I happen to believe that more diversity is what we need not less and that contrary to what some think in our highly charged political environment that more sensitivity training and less militarization of our police force is what we need. No clear headed mind no matter its outward skin color really believes we need to defund policing, but many do think those funds could be better spent weeding out the bad apples and training folks better equipped to defuse the bombs of violence and better able do their job of keeping us all protected and served equitably.
Some years ago I saw a wonderful movie called Wind River, the theme of which was that hundreds of Native American women go missing each year. Few if any are ever found, with very little real effort or expense spent trying to find them. We as a nation seem to value these women so little that it is as if they are invisible. Like the ever growing number of homeless poor, especially those whose skin color is browner than beige.
In another of my favorite movies, Powder, the fictional story of a rare albino young man, the sherif says to his racist deputy I never thought I’d ever find anyone too white for you. The mistreatment of Native Americans, the criminally underpaying of immigrants, and the high crime of human slavery are indelible stains upon the world at large, but especially upon the United States of America. Any effort to truly make the United States of America great again must first begin with dispelling this myth of exceptionalism and accepting the truth that there are these things about our country that have never been nor can ever be great nor we really till we change them.
Some think admitting that we have been wrong is a weakness. That is, to me, very childish thinking. Heaven knows even admitting we have been wrong is only the first step. We have to be willing not just to admit wrongs, but right them where we can. Like the recovering addict’s prayer. God, by whatever name you name, even if it is just our higher self, grant us the wisdom, courage, and serenity to know and make the difference. Life may not always be a bowl of cherries. But sometimes, it can be, if we choose, a bowl of strawberries.
Your friend and fellow traveler,
Sweet Baby James & Long Ago and Far Away