Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Life in My Skin: The Aftermath of Red Lake

I just want to make a few statements today...and as they are coming out of emotion, I warn you not to expect them to be polished.

I am deeply, deeply saddened by the school shooting at Red Lake. I'm also afraid. Afraid that it will "kick up" a new batch of racism against Native Americans, used as fuel by those who hate anyone who is not the "right" color and had the gall to be here first and not take it lying down.

I was horrified by all the bitching I heard, from reporters and others, about how information was so hard to come by in the hours following the shooting. They complained about the lock-down (which is standard procedure) and about the remoteness of the reservation.

Of course, they didn't see the you think the Chippewa like being out in the middle of fucking nowhere, too? You think that was their first choice? Do you think they did it on purpose so you couldn't make your report to Cornfed America on time? Geez.

The media is also, in my opinion, focusing on all the wrong damned things about this. They keep bringing up the fact that Weise liked Marylin Manson. So fucking what? I didn't know bad taste was a precursor to horrific violence. They also keep mentioning his love of Hitler. While disturbing, I believe they only bring it up for shock value. They want to believe goth music and neo-Nazi sympathies caused this.

Why? Because they don't want to look at the poverty at Red Lake, the 40% unemployment, the poor security at the school. That doesn't sell papers.

It's nothing new, though. Historically, the media hasn't given a rat's hairy behind about Native American issues. It perpetuates this erroneous belief prevelant in American society today that all our problems ended 200 years ago. The myth that we're all fat off of casino wealth and degrees bought with free education won't die, even though it is patently untrue. They agree with the alcohol problem, but even then, inflate it. It's bad enough as it is, thanks. They don't see the poor education, the rampant poverty, the unemployment, the high suicide rates, the large numbers of relatively young people dying of diabetes and leaving families behind. No, focus on those mythical checks coming in from gambling and government alike.

In the aftermath of Columbine, changes were made. Everyone in the country wanted to see things made better, not only there, but in all high schools. And to some extent, changes were made. I have no optimism, however, that Red Lake will have the same result.

Every month, I read news on cases in Indian Country that, if they happened anywhere else in America, would be on CNN 24/7. But they happened to Indians, so who cares?

It took a kid shooting up a school for anyone to notice. And next week, even that notice will be gone.

And the reservation will be the same. Remote, poor...and now infamous.

My prayers are with the families of Red Lake.

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At 7:38 AM, Anonymous Synesthesia said...

That is what troubles me about these kind of issues.
Everyone is so busy focusing on Marilyn Manson or kids that wear black.
They don't understand that there are larger issues that should be addressed and taken care of to prevent stuff like that from happening.
It hurts because it's so sad when things like thsi happen...

At 9:15 AM, Blogger Ron Southern said...

Every time I tried to compose a comment just now, a thousand things collided in my head and wrecked my brain. I have nearly nothing to do with American natives, but I can recognize when a people is being fucked over by self-deluded white people who congratulate themselves as humanitarians since we didn't ACTUALLY exterminate the last remnants.

No country's history is much different or much better, of course--everybody's land was stolen from someone and their cultures destroyed or nearly destroyed in the process. The original Hawaiians would have probably disappeared by now, if it wasn't for the tourist trade.

Anyway, you are quite right and I have to shut up now as my face always gets quite red and my heart beats too fast when I think about it. Where did anybody ever get the idea that justice or fairness really exist, I wonder? I guess I was sold a bill of goods when I was a child, then didn't grow up.

At 9:31 AM, Blogger Pixie LaRouge said...

I have no pithy comments, or un-pithy comments, for that matter, to add. I just find any death of children, particularly at the hands of another child, heartbreaking. I'm angry that our culture feels the need to sensationalize on "racial differences" instead of focusing on the REAL tragedies that exists in such big chunks of the population. Until the public at large says "Those are children, those are children, those are children" instead of "those are OTHER children, not ours" we will continue to see heartbreaks like these. *sigh*

At 5:24 AM, Blogger retarius said...

i'm not making light of this, but school shootings were popular way before columbine. the song "tell me why i don't like monday's" by the boomtown rats was about a school shooting.

At 3:18 AM, Blogger Zen Angel said...

To Retarius: You're right (and that's a great song, by the way). However, that case was an adult opening fire on kids and other adults. What makes things like Columbine so scary is that it is child-on-child violence. Not that THAT'S anything new, either....


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