You Gotta Stop Treating Native American Students Like They're Stupid

You Gotta Stop Treating Native American Students Like They're Stupid

“If you treat someone like they’re a dumb Injun long enough, eventually they become a dumb Injun.”
Jersey
Jersey
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“If you treat someone like they’re a dumb Injun long enough, eventually they become a dumb Injun.”

I am going to start this article with a personal story, just one of many that could have been talked about. The incident herein described has really stuck with me, pushing me to be better than the expectations.

In my Grade 11 University-track Math class, we started the year off in an overcrowded 50 student class. The professor we had at the beginning of the year talked so quietly that you couldn’t hear anything, especially when you were all the way at the back. The first three weeks of class were basically a huge blur of hour-long number-drawings that I, and other students in the back section, could not understand. They eventually separated the class into two different sections, and I got a new teacher. This woman apparently already had some preconceived notions about Native American students, and as I was the only one out of 50 students to be of color and of a perceived disadvantaged background, she was clearly channeling her micro-aggressions towards me. Because calculus and functions builds on itself, the confusion from the first few weeks really got to me. I would put my hand up to ask a question or for some help, I would have to keep it up for at least 10 minutes, as she would either completely ignore me or proceed to go to other students and neglect me of any help. I would have to beg her to let me go to the Native Student Resource room, where they would teach me the lesson. A couple times she made comments about special treatment, missing school for important Indigenous holidays, and one time, I overheard her talking shit about Native American students–how they were not smart enough to be taking university-track classes. She also said that, “no dumb Injun should need calculus. They are not going to university and you don’t need calc to count drug money.” As the only Native taking her class, I really felt personally attacked in that situation.

Here’s a fact: If you refuse to teach someone because they are a “dumb Injun,” eventually they are going to become just that. I became that “dumb Injun” who knew nothing about calculus. I was repeatedly getting strong-armed into dropping out of high school and, trust me, I almost did 20-30 times. I prevailed obviously, as I am writing this in my senior year of college. Don’t worry, I made sure to blow kisses at all the shitty teachers I had on graduation day, all the while rocking my Syracuse University t-shirt and holding my bursary plaque. I was incredibly fortunate, because other Native American students were dropping like flies.

Native Americans are not stupid. Native Americans are not white America’s “dumb Injun” teddy bear, despite what the Lone Ranger and Tonto would have you believe. I say teddy bear because they get really uncomfortable when they are without that comfort of our inferiority. When white society sees a “dumb Injun,” they are seeing a product they created. If you plant a flower underneath the shade of a tree and another in direct sunlight, you’ll see the growth differences. If you seclude Native Americans to a reservation riddled with poverty and unfavorable conditions, then expect them to produce the same results as the fortunate, you are going to see the marked difference.

Truth of the matter is, however uncomfortable it makes white society, many Native Americans have gone on to become doctors, lawyers, Supreme Court Justices, Congresspeople, Members of Parliament, professors, historians, etc, despite these unfavorable conditions. They are continuously breaking the stereotypes of “lazy, drunk, dumb Injuns,” “welfare abusers” and “drug dealers.”

The discrepancy in education lies within the system itself. It is failing us. Many students are forced to drop out of school and then become drug dealers, smugglers, and criminals to survive. A lot of times you hear the same story, “Well, he was an amazing lacrosse player. Not even a freshman in highschool and he’s got Syracuse, Duke, and UNC looking at him.” Well why did they end up where they are? They dropped out before they could even think about signing intent papers. They got messed up in drugs. They got arrested. The potential is there, but they can’t do anything if they cannot even graduate high school.

How can we change this problem? It’s not going to be easy. Funding is definitely a problem, but not the only one. Not every student is going to have thick skin when it comes to the racial divide that occurs when we send kids to off-reservation schools. Teachers have to have sympathy towards the plight Native American students face, not judgement and obvious disdain. Academics have to fit the students, not the students trying to mold to academia.

Native American students out there, I sincerely hope that you persevere through your schooling. Find a support system; maybe a teacher, a student liaison, a group of other Native American students. Find your crew and push yourself to finish whatever degree it is you are working towards. Once you gain all that knowledge, they cannot take it away from you. I wish I could say that that piece of paper does not define who you are, but it does. That is the world we live in. There is going to be obstacles in your way. There will be teachers, professors, and other people in academia who want to keep you from getting an education. You are what they feared you could be, an educated Native. Knowledge truly is power, and they are afraid of what will happen if that power is in our hands. Trust me there is nothing, and I mean nothing, that can stop an educated Native.

Cover Image Credit: Twicsy

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17 Empowering Bible Verses For Women

You go, girl.
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We all have those days where we let the negative thoughts that we're "not good enough," "not pretty enough" or "not smart enough" invade our minds. It's easy to lose hope in these situations and to feel like it would be easier to just give up. However, the Bible reminds us that these things that we tell ourselves are not true and it gives us the affirmations that we need. Let these verses give you the power and motivation that you're lacking.

1. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future."

2. Psalm 46:5

"God is within her, she will not fall."

3. Luke 1:45

"Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."

4. Proverbs 31:17

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

5. Psalm 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my shield."

6. Proverbs 11:16

"A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth."

7. Joshua 1:9

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

8. Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."

9. 1 Corinthians 15:10

"By the grace of God, I am what I am."

10. Proverbs 31:26

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness."

11. Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

12. 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."

13. Colossians 2:10

"And in Christ you have been brought to fullness."

14. 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

15. Jeremiah 29:11

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

16. Exodus 14:14

"The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."

17. Song of Songs 4:7

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way."

Next time you're feeling discouraged or weak, come back to these verses and use them to give you the strength and power that you need to conquer your battles.

Cover Image Credit: Julia Waterbury

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I Won't Forgive The Anti-Semitic Students Of Spain Park, Not Yet

Maybe it isn't time for an apology.

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I am Jewish. It is something I have never been afraid of and something I value as much in life as I do with my family and friends. Throughout my life, though I have witnessed hate of the Jewish people and jokes made about Jewish people.

In high school, I had to listen to jokes about Jews and the gas chambers and was asked because I was Jewish if I could do someone else's math homework.

To say I had to deal with anti-Semitism in the South does not come close to describing what I had to go through. As time went by the jokes stopped and I thought I would not have to deal with instances of prejudice or bigotry but I was wrong. Growing up as one of the only Jewish people in my friend group and in high school it made me consider myself strong and ready for college but in my freshman year I had to go through other jokes about my religion and even in sophomore year had to witness someone I thought was my friend make a joke about my religion because "he thought it was funny."

I let the instances of anti-Semitism serve as times when I could prove people wrong I learned to forgive and forget.

But I had to witness other acts of hate towards Judaism while in college. From swastikas on a fraternity house, a synagogue shooting, the BDS movement and more hate speech, the hate towards Jews have seemed to grow and I do not understand why. I get hurt each time I hear of an instance but it has not allowed me to view my Judaism any differently. However, there was an occurrence that has affected me in a different way.

It happened in my home state and it has not sat well with me.

On Monday a video surfaced of multiple high school students making anti-Semitic and anti-Black comments. The video featured a guy turning around the camera multiple times to show he was laughing and thought it was funny while others made comments about concentration camps, what would happen if Jews ruled the world and asking what the world would be like without the Holocaust. The students were from Spain Park in Birmingham and have gathered quite a reputation online.

To say I am filled with anger, disappointment, and embarrassment is an understatement.

This is my home state and these students are not only disrespecting the Jewish and Black people in the state of Alabama but throughout the US and possibly even in the world. I am hurt by this instance but I am not ready to forgive these students just yet.

After the video was leaked online some of the students sent messages to the person who uploaded the video apologizing. That I took as a mature gesture until I read the apology from the girl in the video. The apology asked if the user could remove the video because it would ruin her life and reputation. It was later found out that the female student is the daughter of the manager of the Toyota dealership in Hoover after the manager posted an apology.

Any remorse I had going for these students was now gone.

They were not sorry. They were sorry that they got caught and were facing consequences. They gave the apology that your parents made you say when you did not want to apologize. They did not care about who they had harmed or what they had said, they cared because they had to face consequences and they know that this mistake would follow them for the rest of their life.

I'm at a loss for words.

I don't know how to feel. I know someone will tell me I am overreacting but how am I supposed to approach this? What they said was wrong and there is no proper way to express frustration for it. I know people get offended by certain things but some things are not meant to be a joke. So I hope what you said was worth it and was fun to say because it will follow you for the rest of your life. Some lessons are best-learned overtime and it looks like you will have a chance to reflect on these events.

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