So before I continue with my thoughts from yesterday want to share with you how the story tree in my mind works. I am a visual learner- my thoughts become vision and then little reels of movies in my mind. I thought everyone’s brain works like that. So whatever you tell me I get a visual. So the story tree is the tree that grows with every journal entry which is to say if the title is the root and the trunk is the main idea then as I’m writing, visually in my mind branches of other ideas branch out of that truck of other thoughts I’m going to need before I finished and many times those points can be different So as I attempt to address this topic you will read branches that to a linear person make not seem to make sense. As it is a type of brain dump to create the tree it make go all over and for much of my life because I was unaware of my heritage due to Government policies I just thought I was different from everyone else and not in a good way. Many of us grow up not understanding that there has always been more than one way to effectively communication but dominant culture dictates only one right way of doing things. This has been a challenge most of my life. Ne cause in my mind many of these things didn’t make sense but I followed them blindly and discounted my own thought as inferior and I stayed quiet thinking there was something wrong with my logic.. So currently this tree is full of branches- let’s continue.
WHEN THE STUDENT IS READY THE MASTER APPEARS
I have been incredibly blessed to know many brilliant and incredible people in my life mentors and spiritual advisors. As one of them says “I have seen so many miracles people say I’m a liar.” (Apostle Mondaine) When I was ready to answer my call with Native people another mentor entered my life and blessed me with the statement “we are all ethnocentric, narrow-minded, with limited vision” (DR. Richard Twiss), this statement changed my whole way of thinking. Instead of being frustrated with those in power not understanding the other subcultures in the City live as somehow their fault, I had to admit that we all only know life from what we are exposed to. Everything else, others life experiences are what we see in the movies and for many cannot grasp the reality of how others suffer.
I had to realize that even though Mayor Sam Adams and I probably got to work using the same streets that the lenses we looked through every day on that ride were not the same. I can’t know what he saw but he might have noticed the light rail and other things his life’s work built. On my daily rides to work my lenses gravitate to the increase of homeless people downtown. In my own neighborhoods I see people who have struggled since I came here 25 years ago out on the streets still. I watched the drug houses and blight and then I watch the gentrification moved friends and family out of the neighborhood. We saw the bike lanes and crosswalks come to this part of town where before there were none and you took your life into your own hands trying to cross the street. I’ve watched a new community step right out in the middle of the street with and attitude of entitlement as if to say “Don’t you know you have to stop for me?”
But I digress. The point of the statement is that we know what we know because of what we were exposed to. I don’t know what it is like to own a home or be financially secure. Many people in office everywhere go home to a hot meal and a warm house at the end of the day, most the time neither in the hood nor in the newly created” numbers”. It not for me to blame anyone else for the environments we were raised in or what we know or don’t know. But in my mind I have a value statement or judgment that also says “to whom much is given, much is required.” I feel that if you hold a job that is paid for by your city’s taxes that while you may not understand other’s lifestyles that you must deliver equitable services to all and that the most effective way to do so is to be a lifelong learner to work to understand that which you do not understand. And this includes cultures as well. I don’t see this happening enough. I see most are satisfied with the status quo which is fine if you are part of the 87% dominant culture of Portland, Oregon. Most don’t know about all the unjust policies in the history of both the State of Oregon and the City of Portland since its inception. I worked with the office of Equity to gather these historical racist policies and practices into a PowerPoint they now have available.
So I’m writing all this to say while we are all ethnocentric, narrow minded, with limited vision an cannot be individually blamed for our not knowing it is no excuse to attach yourself to policies or practices that harm others and for many of us it actually is your job by law to treat everyone with decency and gain some form of understanding of all those we are hired to serve.
To be continued ~ The damage Paternalism causes.” We’re not cool and you’re not my Daddy!