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an activists beginning ~ why do i do?

To some it seems ‘derogatory’ and ‘angry’. That in the reposting of ‘angry black responses’ and not evidencing everything I write, I do myself a dis-service and give off the impression that I dislike white people and am an embittered and ‘wallowing’ soul.

Whilst I generally don’t feel the need to clarify much anymore, I realise that there are intricacies that others are not aware of which have led me to respond the way I do. That this ‘responding’ isn’t always pleasant and at times can give the reader or receiver a sense of discomfort.

And that there-in, lies the point.

Cultures throughout the world have been raped and pillaged over the course of our history. To say that this is just a part of history is fine for a while. But to not look at that history and try to improve on it, so as not to replicate an ugly past, is at the least, a duty, is it not?

For Me, this lie was started at school and was part of a larger scheme, that I didn’t recognise at the time.

– captain cook discovered NZ
– the maori ate the moriori
– your people are lazy
– your people worship false gods
– your people are unproductive
– your people are a dying race
– you need to renounce your culture and embrace the one true god

The essence of superiority, I heard in Social Studies as they discussed the ‘issue’ of apartheid. In the 80s it wasn’t taught as a great white complex or an act of thievery and brutality. It was taught as a separation of the ‘uncivilised’ and unchristian from the educated and enlightened.

They also failed to teach us that women were more than chattels and worth more than what they could cook or what was between their legs. Instead we were still plied with the lie that we were angry and ungrateful if we wanted more than marriage and children. That we were stroppy and imbalanced if we decided to respond to any form of maltreatment or abuse.

– that’s not how a woman should act
– its unbecoming for a woman to be angry
– if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it
– don’t react
– a woman should be seen, not heard
– it’s not a womans place to speak

And what was even more fucked up, is this whole ‘woman should know their place’ routine was also taken up by lost indigenous souls, trying to get a grasp on their original culture. I found it most confusing, being off white, or more beige really; and being in possession of a vagina and breasts, meant according to this lot, that I could not speak or sit certain places, in either culture; that as a married person, I was a chattel; that my usefulness was cooking, sex and giving birth … in that order.

– you need to learn tikanga
– you’re not a real ‘maori’ if you don’t speak maori
– if you can’t recite your pepeha, you’re not ‘maori’
– women don’t do that in maoridom
– women can’t sit there

So as a woman, raised in a ‘christian environment’, who had an absent brown father, who had been the recipient of unintended and intentional racism, who grew up ‘uneducated’ and strived to educate herself in a pakeha system;  the daughter of a ‘white’ mother; the mother of two daughters; the grand mother of 4 grandchildren;  who now has the right to vote, who is heterosexual, who has been sexually assaulted more times than should be recounted, who believes in autonomy, who loves truth and who practices transparency (not the government kind!) … I have learnt that I will always be just underneath the bottom of the pile and that if my thoughts and actions make someone else uncomfortable, they believe they have the right to ‘change’ me – subtlely and/or violently.

This is how it is to be a woman of colour.

We can never get it right. And our best is never good enough.

– you need to train your children properly
– you need a proper education
– you need to get a decent job
– you need to work harder
– you need to get over it
– you need to let it go
– you need to move on

Which is why, when I discovered I could ‘self-determine’ and had the right to ‘respond’; I responded to everything and anything that fucked me off, or I had an opinion on, or wanted to, just because!.

And then I discovered that this ‘process’ was also on my ‘Nurture’ playlist. The journey of righting wrongs and fighting for self determination, was set in my DNA.

In 1975, Dame Whina Cooper, in her 80th year, led a Hikoi from one end of the North Island to the other. This Hikoi was used to declare to the Crown that “Not One More Acre Of Maori Land” would be alienated from us.

I was 3. And my Mama took Me with her on this journey.

For Me, responding is a part of the process. It’s a part of self discovery and self determination. It’s a part of reconciliation.

 

Hikoi Photos are from www.wcl.govt.nz, please visit this page for more.

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