I stand with
This piece is part of a new Lark blog salon, curated by Caridad Svich, called
"Stages of Resistance." This salon welcomes reflections and articles on issues and themes related to making work for live performance in political and
aesthetic resistance to forms and systems that oppress human rights and censor and/or severely limit freedom of expression. We are in increasingly hostile, volatile times around the world, and this blog series hopes to serve as a space for considered, thoughtful, polemical articulations of practice and theory on the subject of resistance, the multiple meanings of political art, and the ways in which progressive, wholistic cultural change may be instigated through artworks. Stay tuned for more articles and reflections in this series throughout March and early April 2017.
I wrote a statement for the students I work with at SDSU who have had so many questions regarding how the U.S. could elect the 45th President. It is also for the artists of Native Voices at the Autry.
* * * * *
As an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, an artist, actor, and educator, and a faculty member at a diverse public university, it strikes me personally that the presidential election of 2016 has been compared favorably to the election of President Andrew Jackson in 1828. President Andrew Jackson was the architect of the removal of Native American tribes from the southeastern United States - commonly called the “Trail of Tears.”
In addition to being forcibly removed from our ancestral homelands, many thousands of our 15,000-20,000 Choctaw citizens died along the “Trail” during the long trip from the southeastern US to “Indian Territories” in Oklahoma.
But we are a profoundly resilient people. Our Choctaw nation has rebounded and now numbers more than 225,000. I believe our power is to band together in allyship motivated by love and determination to stand for commonly held values. And I believe now is the time for all to come together for love, support, and strength and stand together as a united community across all barriers.
We know communities that became targets of violence during the election are now under attack. One such attack was reported on my campus at San Diego State University, the day after the election, Wednesday, November 9th. More have followed on other campuses and in cities across the United States. Only five days after the election, more than 250 such incidents of hate crimes have been reported, more than all those reported in the six months prior.
I believe we must take a stand.
Mothers, Elders, educators, faith leaders, community activists, government officials, artists, transportation workers, public service workers, athletic leaders, culture bearers, organizational leaders, philanthropists, small business owners, industry leaders, bosses, fathers, and all those with circles of influence or power who are not listed, it is time to state your beliefs.
Targeted communities in this election cycle deserve to know who stands with them.
I am here to say:
- I stand with people of color.
- I stand with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities.
- I stand with new immigrants and their descendants seeking to make contributions to our country.
- I stand with all people of faiths that are targeted by the current U.S. government.
- I stand with women who are claiming their power to speak up for all aspects of human rights.
- I stand with women who may feel powerless in the wake of the election of a President who has unapologetically admitted to sexual assault.
- I stand with those incarcerated for the benefit of capitalism.
- I stand with refugees fleeing violence in our war-torn world.
- I stand with activists who openly support and lift up these people.
- I stand with the descendants of more than 8,000,000 slaves in the U.S.
- I stand with the descendants of the millions of first people of the lands of the U.S., before Europeans.
- I stand with my family.
I will state these values often. I will seek to hold accountable those who assault these communities. I will look to learn from my allied communities. I will look to transform any of my own racist, misogynistic, power-gathering tendencies or behaviors, both known or unconscious. I will listen to those with whom I have conflict. I will not stand idly by when my allies, family, or their rights are being threatened or diminished.
Now is the time to put action to words. Now is the time to engage those with whom we disagree to determine if there is a path forward. We must examine our personal truths. Truth must include all the citizens of our country. We must find a foundation of understanding if there is to be any hope for union beyond our communities. We must practice actions to demonstrate that all U.S. citizens are sacred. Standing together can expand trust and support. I suspect we are the majority of the country. And we must stand to be counted.
I give other folks permission to use this statement as they craft their own commitments to 2017 and beyond.