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Talking About Race

August 10, 2013 , , ,

My tribal sister Rayshay has attended a training offered by the Justice department to teach individuals how to have a conversation about race.  I admire her courage and conviction in stepping up to the plate on this issue.  She lives in Philly, and I live near the Mexican border in Tucson, so we have different perceptions of where we are today.  I am also older, and lived in Texas in 1967-70, when civil rights were a really big deal, not in a good way.  I would not take up this subject on my own.  This is the first time I have responded to a prompt, but I think this discussion is important, so I hope some of my readers will decide to write a piece this week also.

In response to Rayshay’s next question: Where are we now?  Where I live the strong elements of denial and us vs them mentality are damaging our quality of life.  Racism is unfortunately integrated into politics and business.  If you think national politics looks magnetized to the extreme, just take a walk on the wild side down here at the Mexican border of Arizona.

Here in Tucson racism is very likely to be emotionally bound to the border and immigration.  The race/language/culture issues we have are about being Mexican and or Native American in a land once exclusively owned by your ancestors.  Arizona became a state in 1912, so very different from Pennsylvania, one of the 13 colonies.  The border itself is an unnatural place to stop anything or anyone.  A long stretch of the Arizona border is on tribal land, which is a sovereign nation belonging to the people who were undoubtably here first, the Tohono O’odam.  Arizona was part of Mexico; some land ownership in Arizona is documented by Spanish land grant.  Rich mines belonged to the Apache tribes, and there were resources to create a thriving economy. Now we suffer from a water shortage that is unsustainable.  Golf, cows, and general waste of our water has left the southwest in a pickle…literally. The salty groundwater leaves minerals in the ground that eventually make plant growth impossible.  It is late in the game to decide who took what from whom; the resource of water has been depleted for everyone.

Politics in Arizona are tied to race, language, and Mexico.  The school district in Tucson has been ordered to stop teaching a curriculum in ethnic studies.  This complex and emotional issue brought out the worst in everyone.  Some of the books from the program were apparently banned from all the libraries after the closure.  There is bitterness on both sides of this issue.  If public education becomes a reason to bicker, all students loose. Where we are in Arizona is nowhere near the place we need to be for a thriving and honest economy that serves the best interest of society.

What do you think?

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comments

This is a very powerful post.. I love it. It echoes something I saw on tv and also online.. about how race is still an issue.

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Stevie Wilson (@LAStory)

August 14, 2013

Oprah is workin it with her new movie, The Butler..

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mermaidcamp

August 15, 2013

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