Monday, May 18, 2009

A Great Letter to the Editor

A Dear Reader named "Friend" gives us a heads-up on a great Letter to the Editor in the comments section of our post "Playing Indian: White Racists Try to Hold 'Go Native' Party."

The letter is in response to the East Bay Express reporter's demeaning coverage of the Native American protest of the racist settlers' "Go Native" party in the article "Burners Torched Over Party."

Here is the letter:
Since the East Bay Express didn't print this letter to the editor, nor did they put it online, here is a response to the original article.

From: A group of Native and non-native allies concerned with holding the East Bay community accountable for ignorant acts that perpetuate racism. We envision building bridges, healing, and strengthening this community to support the free expression and survival of all cultures.

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Letter to the Editor

The intention of this letter is not to further fan the flames of the conflict that has arisen over Visionary Village's party theme 'Go Native’ but rather to express concern and disappointment in the East Bay Express for allowing such a slanted, inaccurate, dismissive and historically ignorant article to be published in your paper, hidden in the April fools issue. While the article thoroughly chronicled the "lecturing", "blasting" and "excoriation" of the young Visionary Village representatives, it does little to uncover the reason behind the anger expressed by Native American and allied non-native community members. This lack of understanding, and apparent lack of interest in understanding why 50 or more Native American people would take five hours out of their Saturday evenings to speak to a gathering like this, highlights the very ignorance that angered people in the first place.

The dispute is depicted as though some foolish youth made a simple mistake and were then forced to endure strict punishment that outweighed the original infraction. However the 'go easy on them' sentiment expressed by the author seems to only extend one direction. It is not easily disputed that this country was founded on the genocide of Native American communities. And while Native Americans in this country continue to face the calculated cultural genocide of relocation, destruction of sacred lands, poverty and marginalization, they are expected to take lightly the further dismissal of their human rights by flattening their lives into party themes akin to aliens, cartoons, and fire dragons.

Regardless of the direction the party planners intended their party theme of "Go Native" to take, there must be some responsibility taken by the planners for its contribution to the pervading racist stereotypes of Native Americans common in this country. The article failed to recognize the tremendous restraint and compassion from the Bay Area Native community in generously taking time out to address this oversight with Visionary Village and instead depicted the 'real Natives' as hyper-sensitive or over-reacting.

Where are the hordes of outraged people asking Peabody Coal Company or Newmont Mining Corp to 'go easy on em' as they destroy the ancestral homelands of the remaining Native Americans who have survived over 500 years of genocide? In addition to the historical facts of small pox blankets, massacres of men women and children, broken treaties, Indian Schools, and relocation, the current struggles Native Americans face were not researched and presented as essential background information for the outrage at being dismantled and romanticized into a 'four directions' party theme. Without this information, the anger expressed at the event cannot be understood. It is irresponsible for East Bay Express to publish such an inflammatory, unprofessionally researched article.

The Visionary Village's party theme was a narrow-minded mistake. In all of the web wars that have resulted from this mistake being brought to Visionary Village's attention, little has been done to educate themselves to understand the Native American community's perspective, accept responsibility and apologize for the obvious ignorance, and move on to a place of greater understanding and true support for one another. This article did nothing more than provide a platform for further distortion of the facts by yet another unaccountable contributor to this growing conflict. East Bay Express reporters should accurately cover the history behind the anger, giving a balanced coverage of the tears and frustration on all sides, as well as offering solutions such as supporting the ongoing struggles of Native American communities like the Western Shoshone to defend their sacred places from Barrick Gold Corporation. How many Emeryville residents know they are living on sacred Ohlone ground where developers destroyed a shell mound and named a mall after it? The East Bay Express can spread awareness of the Shell Mound Walk that happens each year and provide links to for concerned people to get involved at websites like www.vallejointertribalcouncil.org, http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com, and www.blackmesais.org. The article also failed to cover the greater awareness and responsibility that is now being held by courageous and humble non-native individuals who stopped defending their ignorance, and have benefited from this wake up call.

Conflict can serve to transform peoples' understanding dramatically. Though the article represents a missed opportunity for that possibility, further pieces that delve deeper and honor the wisdom and experience of Native voices might perhaps offer some remedy to the oversights and misrepresentation in the article that was printed.

Comment by Hillary Violet - May 9, 2009 @ 09:00 PM

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Krispy Kreme said...

Dear New Age Donut.

You've got mail.

5/23/2009 10:04 AM  
Blogger Johnny Lee Williams said...

The east texas survival school is a joke! Have you met these 2 idiots?

6/11/2012 3:32 PM  

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