But I Don’t Understand!
“But I don’t understand what the issue is! I have no issue with indigenous people! I treat everyone the same.”
Some variation of that statement has been shared with me in countless sessions, always by a non-indigenous person, usually by a male, always as their attempt to dismiss the idea that there IS anti-indigenous racism in their community or organization.
And that is the problem.
Let’s unpack this …
Remember the back-to-back teaching? Just because you do not see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
Further, you (the non-indigenous person making the statement) believe you see indigenous people as the same, but do they see you as equal to them (or vice versa)?
And do you TREAT THEM as equals or just someone you are “nice to” because you are a good person?
Consider the following:
With our equals we share freely, with no worry of judgement. Would they be able to freely share with you what their reality is like or what is troubling them? Would they receive judgement or acceptance that what they say IS true for them?
Would they be comfortable pointing out that something you just said is problematic? And if they were comfortable enough with you to share, would you hear them, or would you simply dismiss it?
And what if they wanted something changed? What if they shared something isn’t working for them? Would you take action or dismiss and veto that too?
If they cannot speak freely, if you would dismiss what they say, that is not equality. That is your superiority, like a parent to a child, and that IS the problem.
Equality in a relationship is equal power in a relationship. Do you still consider indigenous people your equal? Do you behave as such, respecting their power and authority as much as your own?
Truth be told, even the statement that “there isn’t a problem” implies that we must simply be troublemakers without valid concern. That is dismissive and again, something you don’t do to an equal.
So, there definitely is a problem.
The journey continues …
I love you!