I’ve been labeled as a social justice warrior/PC Princess. And whatever you call people who don’t have many problems so they take on the issues of other groups and become overly sensitive about things that don’t hardly concern them. It’s a high-key paranoia of mine to be even tangentially associated with that image, which has been a somewhat dibilitating irrational fear to try to work with. Advocacy, activism and aggression are delicate distinctions to navigate on social media with so much selective attention. When I think about it, I feel so stupidly vulnerable because any random person online can offhandedly say something along those lines and I might risk getting upset by it because of how much time and energy I do actually put into making balanced and informative content. I let it discourage me from pursuing my mission to help Native American Artists get international representation and a greater domestic recognition. Other than this fear, nothing is holding me back; I am laser focused and it is within my abilities to achieve it. To reclaim my normal devil-may-care attitude about the things I say and do, I just have to hold myself accountable for how I let others make me feel.
I’ve come close to completely quitting everything two times, so far. YouTube, social media, school, New York (ergo, my relationship). Thank Ye for Ebb because I would have probably given up on my dreams if he wasn’t just so damn good at leading by example. I’ve just barely begun to pick myself back up from (hopefully) the last discouraging dip in this rollercoaster. I’ve been working so hard to learn about my culture, meet other Natives & inform others about the issues we face for almost three years now, why stop now? I’m sure everyone has had similar moments where your passion is misjudged so we can all relate. I’ve learned a lot about not trying quite so hard to get my message across efficiently, but instead trying to communicate it effectively so I hope you can also take something a little useful from my struggle.
Discussing a close-minded, hypocritical and dead-end argument that I once had with my Museum Theory class proved to be very insightful. Because they could relate so profoundly, I truly did have a break through with their help. I realized my fear fear of being labeled comes from the defensive projections of someone one on the other side of a huge knowledge gap.
I mentioned before there is a big difference between efficiency and effectiveness. My issue lies is the corners I cut to for the sake of effort in one-on-one conversations that I don’t really care much about. Once I realize they’re not going to make the effort to educate themselves I fully dismiss the conversation because I’m not getting paid to sit here and to explain why they’re actually misinformed when I’ve already made YouTube videos that explain it all. That comes at the expense of portraying myself as abrasive and decreases the effectiveness of my message. The echo-chamber effect of social media does its job to reassure them that they are doing a-okay and I seem like a bully.
The aftershock of this breakthrough came a few weeks later when my fears were literally confirmed. I was told that people think I only care about Native American rights for attention.Since they obviously never bothered to ask me why I care so much, I’ll tell you. I moved back to the United States and enrolled myself in three classes in excess of my graduation requirements as a senior in high school to learn more about Navajo History, Government & Language in a program offered outside of my high school. I became devastated and overwhelmed all at once by the history of my ancestors. I did more research and started thinking about how I could marry my love of art with my talents to address the issue I thought to be most pervasive on the reservation: Identity.
I started networking and actually ended up going to the White House to discuss the issues in our communities with our government leaders. I took the opportunity to speak to my peers and members of the Obama administration to share my theory that our problems stem from the way we Natives see ourselves and relate to our own identity. Being Native can definitely be a source of shame for many because of persistent misrepresentation, the effects of historical trauma and a general lack of resources and opportunities in our communities.
Each generation of Native heroes & activists has put forth a similar dialogue for hundreds of years now so I’m not sure what sort of revolutionary spin they expect from me?
1. Respect the balance of nature & our Earth.
2. Stop going out of your way to justify disrespecting and stealing from us.
3. Acknowledge the systematic oppression & genocide which Indigenous people continue to endure to this day for your direct benefit.
Sometimes I do feel the existentialist within me nagging about the futility of it all in the face of basic human nature. But then I remember my mission and my heart overflows with so much love for my culture.
You can’t mess with the unstoppable force of an inspired Native woman.