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Change On Our Own Terms!!

I, like most people, belong to so many communities that the challenges to creating change can be overwhelming. Two communities I am a passionate member of intersect in many ways: homeless women and children seeking to recover from violence and/or addiction, and urban Indigenous women confronting the specific problems all modern Natives face combined with the cultural confusion of being both Native and urban. The deeply embedded systemic oppression (systemic racism and classism, family cycles of abuse and violence, poor public policy that perpetuates these systems, unaddressed violence of many types by the police and other groups meant to protect us, climates that foster poverty in certain demographics.……I could go on and on) are in my view the greatest challenges for both. In working to meet the most immediate needs of these women, it can be difficult to see the larger range of factors that affect them so specifically. However, understanding and redefining the big picture is key to dismantling these oppressive cycles one small step at a time.
One major way I’ve confronted these challenges is education. Education isn’t just academic; in fact it can mean quite the opposite. Higher education is great, but it also often works within the framework of oppressive systems. Education means listening, searching for the places where women are speaking their lived realities, and just simply listening. These women write books, these women share their lives online, these women are next to us at the bus stop, neighbors in our apartment buildings, and seeking help and a better life at the shelters, community centers, and health centers where we volunteer. When we listen to the voices of our own communities, we gain all the information we need in order to create change on our own terms. We begin to gain the confidence to share our own stories. When change comes on our own terms, it builds a system outside the systems of oppression, and we are no longer subject to it.
Pulsewire is an amazing educational resource. It is a stellar example of communities creating change on their own terms. Our backgrounds, locations, and stories can vary widely; but what an empowering experience to find our intersectionality. There is an invaluable environment here that lets us share our experiences with pride and without shame, to feel supported and strong enough to take that step toward creating our own solutions. Reading through the many many submissions to Voices of our Future, I find no end of examples that I can model my own efforts towards change after. I feel no hesitation to ask questions, initiate discussion, and look for support and advice from women who shared here and who have created successful models for change.
I truly believe that the only effective change for our communities will be the change we make on our own terms. It is time to send the message that we won’t live within the systems that oppress us. Pulsewire is a community that has made this a reality.

Comments

Jency's picture

Learning

Learning is not from the academic view point alone, as you say. I find that there are things I can learn from my son, my maid and even strangers. And I too find Pulsewire a great learning place. And it IS a place where we can be candid. I appreciate your passion towards your work, your conviction having been strengthened by your experience.

Jency

juliexuan's picture

So true! We need to work

So true! We need to work outside of oppressive systems for change to happen. Keep spreading your message!

Julie

Claire Leland's picture

Listening as an act of Love

Hi Lindzanne,

I appreciate your point about taking the time to listen in the midst of, and perhaps in spite of, the systems that oppress people on a daily basis. I appreciate hearing your thoughts on the "listening space" that PulseWire seems to provide -- in particular, your point about intersectionality. Every story is important, there are no comparisons, and sometimes the act of being or feeling heard can be empowering in and

I'd be interested in learning more about the issues that Native women face in your urban community and hearing about if you think PulseWire could be a tool to give voice to some of those important issues.

Thanks for your important messages!

Claire

lindzanne's picture

Thanks all for the comments,

Thanks all for the comments, I really appreciated them.
Claire, I really see Pulsewire as an opportunity to find examples of combating oppression that can be plugged into my own communities. I have been thinking a long time about things I've read by Franz Fanon, combined with Malcolm X both in terms of models of rising up against oppression on ones own terms and about Malcolm X's in particular desire to plug the fight for African American Civil Rights into Pan Africanism in order to place American issues on the world stage in terms of human rights and autonomy/independence. I have been really interested in how ideas and models from their, and others, perspective can intersect with the world wide movements for indigenous justice. (And I think there is a very strong worldwide movement right now)
For me, there are some really particular issues that concern me, one being the high rate of sexual assault against Native women. One in three Native women will be raped in their life time. I am very interested in how factors in an urban setting effect the risk, how efficiently or inefficiently these assaults are handled in an urban setting,issues of police brutality/incompetency, etc.....basically how these issues play out in a totally different environment than the rez. I am also working on getting chemical dependency counseling certification as part of my educational process, and have a lot of interest in learning more about addiction and Native Women.
Lastly, a bit about my interest.....I grew up in a very rural area but in a culturally mixed family of white, Native, and Latino. There was a very unhealthy dynamic of blatant racism on the part of my white grandfather toward my Northern Cheyenne grandmother and a lot of purposeful shaming towards us because of being mixed. I think her experience was not unique in that there is a long and complicated history of white men colonizing brown bodies. Feeling like certain parts of me had to be invisible, and feeling uncomfortable in my own skin, is kind of normal to me. I moved to the city a few years back and found myself relating in those ways to the Native friends I made who had moved there too or had always lived there. I think we share a lot of similar effects of different causes and I want to work to force people to see and acknowledge us.
So, yes, I think Pulsewire could give a voice to all that. And help teach me HOW to give it a voice.

Lindsay Anne

Rahel Weldeab's picture

NICE!

You read and refer to Franz Fanon and Malcolm X?! NICE!!! It's awesome that you would refer to them to find ways to intersect such movements to indigenous justice! I would love to learn more about your findings. :)

Rahel Weldeab's picture

Totally agree with you!

I totally agree with you when you say we need to bring about change on our own terms. What intrigues me about the World Pulse community is the fact that we can get so much information and support from women from very different backgrounds and environments. To bring about change on our own terms would mean taking into consideration our immediate environments, but the girl power I get from this online community has been on point on so many occasions, our own terms seems to be universal. It's intriguing to read the posts of women who live in completely different environments than my own, and still their suggestions and support has allowed me to bring change on my own terms more than I could have imagined.

I also totally agree with you on your points of education. Education is not only academic... and the disadvantages women, indigenous people, minorities, etc. face in many education systems does depict the system as oppressive. Today's educational systems does work in a framework of oppressive systems. We need universal and free education for ALL!!

Lisa T's picture

Great message

Lindzanne,

Education is such a vital part of overcoming oppression, you do a good job of articulating that here. I hope that PulseWire will continue to help you in challenging and overcoming the barriers that exist in your community. Thank you for sharing!

Sincerely,
Lisa

Zane Abweh's picture

All your points are

All your points are absolutely true and are applicable everywhere. They are realistic and aspiring at the same time. I also liked how you linked every aspect together, i really benefited from reading your piece.

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