To Brave White People: Be Braver

Terese Mailhot

This is dedicated to the brave white people taking a stand on Facebook against Trump and sharing various Standing Rock articles. You could have been on the front line, in the marches, putting money where your mouth is, but you had the foresight to know real change happens on the Internet.

We know it’s not posturing. Authenticity is your mantra. Also, why would you feel the need to posture when you have those rescue animals? If someone tests your authenticity, just show her that picture of you meditating on a mountain with the caption, “Serenity.” What’s more authentic than your Facebook posts, the ones that you block your racist uncle from reading? It would be so inconvenient to challenge him online, I understand. It must be exhausting.

Can I be frank? People of color need you. Like, a movement isn’t a movement until white people co-opt it. You’re constantly doing us a solid when you post those Standing Rock articles. How else would your discerning aunt Carol find out about it, just so she can dismiss it five seconds later to watch a cat video. That Carol.

Since you’re doing us a solid, we’ll repost whatever GoFundMe you’re pushing to bankroll your independent film on folk music, or to treat your dog’s cancer, etc.

You have such conviction. When your parents said you needed something to fall back on when you told them you were destined to make hemp butter, you stood against adversity and started a butter empire.

When you built that community chicken coup, and the chickens were malting, mostly because of those knitted sweaters, you went to work and smudged their coup. You got your eggs, holistically.

When you dedicated your vote, your closing reflective thought was so profound. Even your uncle commented, “That’s nice, dear.”

Let’s just talk about the causes and revelations you brought our community:

Milk is puss and you’re the best mom for buying organic.

Juice has a lot of sugar.

Real Women Have Curves was mean to skinny people.

Hillary Clinton.

That one time you understood how ‘Pocahottie’ costumes are bad, and now everyone has to know.

You taught me how to take time to smell the flowers and say, Namaste.

Gluten intolerance is real.

Okay, I’ll be honest; that list isn’t very impressive. But, you still have time. I just want to prevent you from further mistakes. Your white tears after this election have only sidetracked real activists from doing the work we need to do. We can’t console you right now, and it’s time to boss up.

In this election, racist white women hurt us the most at the polls. You need to talk to your cousins and your aunts and your grandmother. You need to be the one to convince them progress is inevitable. The onus isn’t on me or any person of color. We’ve been crucial to every civil rights, human rights, women’s rights issue in America, but we’re tired of pleading with your families. You do it this time.

Making fun of you is the first step into an initiation. It’s a Native rite of passage to be made fun of in order to get your pass on the rez. Can you do us a solid one more time? Have those conversations you’re having online, outside of your liberal online friendships. At the Thanksgiving table, talk about Dakota Access Pipeline, and how ironic your feast is when you look at American history. Talk to your bosses and co-workers when they discriminate. Help refugees, because there is no such thing as natural born citizens. Even Native people feel displaced in their own country. The disenfranchisement of our most vulnerable community members cannot continue. Put your money into this, and your time, and every ounce of your compassion.

Be braver.

Terese Mailhot is from Seabird Island Rez. She’s Saturday Editor at The Rumpus. Her work has been featured in The Offing and Yellow Medicine Review.

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