Archive: This site was live from September 6 to October 24, 2021

Week 5:


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Week 5:


Down Arrow

Turn, a sculpture by Rose B Simpson

Rose B. Simpson
Turn, 2019
Photo John Wilson White

Trust and Loss, a four color lithograph by Dyani White Hawk

Dyani White Hawk
Trust and Loss, 2013
Courtesy of Tamarind Institute

In Memoriam, a sculpture by Rose B Simpson

Rose B. Simpson
In Memoriam: Genocide Makes It Complicated, 2019
Courtesy of Ciaroscuro Gallery

Survival Instinct

Every morning I choose my four-year old daughter’s clothes. She hates it. We argue. I ask myself, “Why, Rose? Just let her wear whatever the hell she wants to wear. It’s part of her self expression.”

I also take time to tie up her hair. When she still had school, I noticed the little girls lining up with braids, multiple ties in new patterns, inspiring and intentional. She tells me how she wants her hair most of the time and I incorporate her ideas. I don’t let her leave the house with messy hair.

If her clothes have stains or holes, they go to the back of the drawer to be worn when she goes with her grandma who always sends her home covered in whatever happened that day.

When I was a kid in the ‘80’s I wore my big brother’s hand-me-downs full of holes and stains. I was given a nickname by my great-grandpa that translated to, “Messy Hair.” My single mother lived in a car with two babies for a summer until my aunt let her live in a skeleton house that needed a roof. People stared at us when we went into town, two kids watching the cars gather behind from the bed of my mom’s slow ‘52 Willies truck.

There are many facets to this story—perspectives of victimry and privilege. But a lot of it has to do with colonization, genocide, displacement, access to information, racism, and sexism. All of it exists on a spectrum, including environmentalism. We spent our summers pulling weeds in our fields of corn and beans, butchering our pet chickens, turkeys, and pigs for food. My mother and her husband could have looked for day jobs, but they made the intentional decision to try to make it without money.

Nowadays my brother and I laugh at our obsession with driving nice cars. It wasn’t how we were taught to be, yet we can’t help it. It feels too good to have something when you know what it’s like to not… air conditioning and tinted windows. Like my collection of shoes, I’ve been shamed for this, but I know we are doing our best with what life tools we collect and have been given.

There are people with a life experience that included nice houses with two car garages, electricity, access to western education, food on the table. I’ve seen these people revolt against capitalist white suburbia by choosing to dismantle that lifestyle, grow their own food, commute via bicycle, get off-grid, live in a van, choose to dress intentionally grungy. It is the “responsible” decision, the “right” thing to do, but I sense some privilege when this is, in fact, a choice. I don’t like to feel judgment or shame when I smell privilege. Maybe it’s the guilt I smell.

Whether we are trying to save the planet or survive some sort of genocide, I guess we are all searching for balance. Whether we are working to prevent an apocalypse or trying to figure out what “thriving” means post-apocalypse, it is important for me to know an individual’s ancestory to understand their choices.

But, how do we share these ancestories when they might be too painful to navigate? Where does genocide fit in our identities? As victims or perpetrators of it? What if we are both?

What a big heartbreaking mess.

Someday maybe I’ll relax and let my kid walk around dirty, unbrushed, free. But until then I guess I’ll be doing what parents do. I’ll do the “loving” thing and work to create an experience for her that was “better” from my own.

The hamster wheel keeps turning.

When do we say “when?” Maybe when that chuckle erupts after the long long cry there will be forgiveness, and in that forgiveness, new paths to take.

The Circus is Coming, a four color lithograph by Mark Mulroney

Mark Mulroney
The Circus is Coming, 2006
Courtesy of Tamarind Institute

Seventh Generation, a sculpture by Rose B Simpson

Rose B. Simpson
Seventh Generation, 2017
Courtesy of Ciaroscuro Gallery

Notes from Rose this week

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