The following reflections describe the experience of the authors at the protest of a columbus day parade in Denver in 2007. The American Indian Movement of Colorado, in which author Mark Freeland is a member, has engaged in protest of this parade since the late 1980s in alliance with numerous progressive social change groups. 2007 marked the one-hundredth anniversary of the columbus day holiday, which originated in the state of Colorado. Author Julie Todd was among a number of students organized for the protest by Mark Freeland at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, where they are both still doctoral students. Mark and Julie wrote these words in 2010. They used them as materials for a required course at the school called Identity, Power and Difference during one session of the course that deals with allyship and solidarity. The protest of the columbus day parade in Denver continues. For more information, go to: http://www.transformcolumbusday.org/ and http://www.colorado-aim.blogspot.com/.

Disclaimer: Language used in the publication below
might be considered offensive to some readers.
[1]


An Open Letter to those Allied with Us
(Mark Freeland) 

After 4 years of hearing
“I’ll be praying for you”
Or, “I’ll be holding you in my heart”
I had given up
Given up on others actually listening
Doing
Participating
Understanding
Getting off of your fucking asses
Outside of your boxes
Your prayers amount to shit
Simply a privileged mask
Of making yourself feel good
About ignorance
Inactivity
Lies
And living luxuriously on our land
At our expense
But N’okomis(grandmother) kept pushing me
“Go tell them” she would say
“Go tell them about us, about what has happened”
So I began to plot
And scheme
It was the 100th anniversary
Celebrating violence, conquest and genocide for 100 years here in colorado
There would only be one of those
So a year in advance i picked some
With n’okomis help
Those who would come into the street
Those already recognized as leaders
Students
Faculty
Staff
Administration
We chose those whom others would follow
I asked Kathy to help my devise language
I knew
“You can take your prayers and shove them up your ass!”
Would not bring more people out
Kathy suggested “witness” language
Set up a chapel date for spiritual preparation
(whatever that is)
White folks know how to talk to other white folks
In person
One
By
One
They agreed to come out to the street
So we had
Meetings
(non)violence training
Practice
Questions
“what about (insert various how would this effect me questions)?”
(wanting to scream)
150 YEARS AGO THEY SLAUGHTERED AND SEXUALLY MUTILATED OUR RELATIVES
SKINNED INDIAN PEOPLE
TANNED OUR SKIN FOR BRIDLE REIGNS AND BOOT LEGGINGS
KILLED CHILDREN
STOLE LAND
INTENTIONALLY SPREAD DISEASES
LIED REPEATEDLY
AND THIS IS PUT ON CELBRATORY DISPLAY IN THE
AMERICAN LITURGICAL CALENDAR
PEOPLE GET THE DAY OFF OF WORK FOR THIS SHIT
Instead
N’okomis suggested a demonstration
To lead
There is nothing you will experience
In the street
That will be anything near to what my ancestors
Experience

I built the fire for ceremony
Communicated with the
Sin (rocks, we’re not Christian)
Mishomis (grandfathers)
Mizzukummikquae (earth mother)
Four directions, above and below
With n’kawiss (my son)
Then I dropped him off

Shit

Fuckfuckfuckfuck

That plume of black smoke
That’s where I built the fire

Heart racing
E-470 slow

1,2,3,4,5,6
Fire trucks
And no way in
Except
Parking around the corner
Jumping three fences
Following an elk trail in
Staying low in the scrub oak
Evading the eyes of the fire fighters and police
Circling west, around to the south ridge
Waiting for the cop to leave the back of the ambulance
Then under the cover of darkness
(like my ancestors)
Get into the back of the ambulance
Where N’ossae (my father)
Was taking oxygen

The ancestors listened to us
And decided to help us
Except it was Inktome
The spider

Shit

Not really what we had in mind
But it was help

Morning
Sunny
People coming together
Marching
Singing
Chanting
Following our lead
Tony would be on the hill with the community’s canupa
(cha-nu-pa, the pipe)
We were going to be ok
Drums
Honoring
Singing
Ancestors

In the street now
LOUD
surrounded by SWAT
In their costumes
shotguns
(the yellow shells are rubber bullets
the red shells are lead)
grenade launcher
paint ball guns with pepper spray
batons
shields
hand cuffs
and the envy of the militia
an m-4 with live rounds
moving in

Time collapses
Inktome here
In our homeland
No boundaries between us and the ancestors
Shoulder to shoulder with them
(never been more peaceful)
They grabbed Seth first
By her neck
A pressure point
Her body
Twisted
Contorted
Writhing in pain
Carried off
Laci closed the circle in
Nice Move!
(I was proud of her)
But the colonial police kept coming
They didn’t have to use a baton on Scott’s leg
But they did anyway
Sadists
Julie screaming at the top of her lungs
That can’t be a show
Sadists
Intentionally inflicting pain on a woman in a collar
A hand from behind
On my neck
35 seconds of black
(I counted on the video )
“get up”
“the show’s over”
I kept silent
But spoke with my body
It said
“fuck you, I’m not making this shit easy for you fucking
assholes. You’re no different than the fuckin people that
came before you, raping (literally)and killing. You would
no doubt kill us if there weren’t cameras rolling and potential
consequences for it. No, I’m not gonna walk off the street
you bitch ass mother fucker, you gonna carry me.
100 years you been celebrating the person who killed
7.5 million Taino people, slave trader. He wasn’t even
a good sailor, he wrecked his fuckin ship in the Caribbean.
You still are doing the same shit. Killing indiscriminately
under the veil of “civilization.” No, I’m not making this
easy for you. No, today we expose you for what you
really are. And these people can see with their own
eyes what the fuck you are. No more mask. No
more hiding. Colonial violence out in the open in
broad fucking daylight with cameras rolling. Maybe
they will have the guts to see it in themselves, and
see how they are a part of it. Now take your place,
do your worst mother fucker. Amerikkkan violence
is on display today.
They spoke with theirs
They call it a “crane hold”
He pushed it tighter
Even though I wasn’t resisting or trying to get away
Harder
Inflicting pain
Like a well trained sadist
If we weren’t going to comply
Then they were going to get their jollies off on us

Those on the sidewalk
Witnesses
Didn’t see the crane hold
But they saw everything else
Colonial violence on display
Except this time
It wasn’t a foreign military
It was their own (militarized)police
And it wasn’t dark skinned folks only
Violence was perpetrated on
People who looked like them
White
Female
Classmates
Christians
Being violated and brutalized right in front of them
Brutalized by those sworn to
“protect and serve”

Then jerked around in the jail
The taunts
The waiting
You’re not gonna bullshit us,it doesn’t take 6 hours to
process all of this
7,8,9 hours later
Sack lunches
Of really bad olive loaf
Then up the elevator
“grab a blanket”
And here is your cell
4 foot by 7 foot
Head far too close to a steel toilet

Shit
Inktome is helping

We’re gonna have to try to sleep in here

(it doesn’t take that long to process paperwork assholes,
you are intentionally trying to get “justice” before you
go to court because the last three times we made
you look stupid in court and were acquitted)
Fuck!
That fluorescent light is loud!

Finally out in the morning
Slowly
One
By
One

Defenders recovering from wounds
Inflicted by the colonial police
Physical
And psychological
Even the witnesses
Inundated the counseling center
They had to clear their schedules
To deal with

CRISIS

For weeks
Counseling
To help deal with the psychological aftershocks of
witnessing your friends get violated by the people
you always thought you could trust to protect and help you.
Sorry for ya white folks
That’s what happens when you stand in solidarity
with people who don’t
Look
Act
Talk
Think
Like you do
White privilege is a privilege of condition
It is extended to you as long as you play the part
Go against it
As one may say
The scales may fall from your eyes
And you will see the world in a new way

And then court
Relive the brutality
Videos
One
By
One
The colonial militia takes the stand
And lies about what happened
Lie
About giving orders
About inflicting pain
About leaning over and saying “you dumb bitch!”
But this court
Not like the previous ones
Gotta look good for the DNC coming to town
No more making a case
No more international law
No more “mental state of defendant” which allows testimony
about what brought you to the street
No more
Just whether you were at 13th and stout at 10am Saturday October the 6th, 2007.
Columbus killed 7.5 mil
Objection, irrelevant
My great grandmother was stolen from her home and family
and sent to boarding scho
Objection, irrelevant
Every year our children are lied to and made to feel like less th
Objection, irrelevant
(irrelevant?)
Only the colonial courts have relevance
(all the while delegitimizing themselves)
So I answered
Yes
And
No
Body motionless
Still communicating
“nope, fuck you. I am still here and you are going to have
to deal with us. I won’t make this easy and cop to a plea
deal, even knowing that means I will probably have multiple
charges, have to pay a fine and be on probation. You
are going to have to come here, get a jury, and spend
three days looking at me, because you sure as shit
aren’t gonna listen. That would be too dangerous.
You have to look good for the DNC coming to town.
‘practice your skills for those protesters’. Go ahead,
practice on us fuck heads, but
I ain’t goin away”

(Or as Richard Prior said
“I ain’t dead yet motherfucker”)

So now that we see what happened
I can be a little more honest with you
N’niijkenh (my friends)
Those allied with us
I have very little to offer you
But if you go down this path with us
Here is what you can expect
You will be ostracized by people you love
People who you thought were your friends
Some of your family will ridicule you
Call you names
It may help to ruin your marriage
Your coworkers won’t understand you
If you haven’t hit a point of despair
Don’t worry
It is going to slam you to the ground very soon
As soon as you come to terms with the depth of the problem
Just how big the system of violence is
Just how deep it runs
If you cross the law
You will receive the maximum penalties
Have to pay fines
You will spend countless hours thinking about this work
Worrying
Sometimes paranoid
Thinking people, cops
Are following you
You may need counseling
But choose carefully
Some of the counselors will think you’re crazy and want to medicate you
Or talk you back into the path of least resistance
You may be physically beaten
Sore for days
Bloodied up
It could be difficult to get a job
Or to keep one
You will be
Harassed
Talked about
Disliked
Cast aside

I don’t have much to offer you
Except
A life of integrity
And a small number of friendships
That will be close like family
N’niijkenh (my friends)
I wish I had more to offer
But I don’t
But now that you have gone through
The pain
The suffering
The existential crisis
The joy of seeing with new eyes
I know that you would do it again

DUMB BITCH
(Julie Todd) 

“Dumb Bitch”
That’s what he called me
“You dumb bitch”
Officer McMan
of the denver colorado police department
Right before he put his
cop hands
on my clergy-collared woman’s body
That’s what he said,
“You dumb bitch.”

Before going on I would like to state for the record:
That I AIN’T NO DUMB BITCH, ASSHOLE.

And him leaning down,
saying it just that plain
Just for me
in my ear
is what I’ll remember the most.
More than the pain that he then went on
to inflict on my white woman’s body;
More than him dragging me
on pavement
with his partner
while I tried
to regain my bearings.
More than his response
to my cries
of “Shut the fuck up or I’ll break your fucking wrist.”
More than his condescending laugh.
More than the appearance
that he seemed to enjoy hurting me.
More than all that,
I’ll remember
not seeing his face
for his riot helmet and shield.
But remember
him leaning over me,
as I sat in protest on the ground,
coming close to my face,
my shoulder
my neck
my ear
on my right side
and telling me,
speaking
Only to me,
Man to woman
& saying,
“You dumb bitch”

I felt he picked me
Among other women also picked by police
But me
white
spiritual leader
strong
smart
there
on the street
not in my place
not in a church
but in your face
on your streets
and something in him said,
“No.”

He couldn’t take it;
could not compute
as man.
So before physical force
The show of brute power
He lowered his voice
Came close to my body
& dominated me first
with his power of language
Backed by a gun.
“You dumb bitch.”

I am NOT a Dumb Bitch.

And then he put his hands on my.

DAZED,
They held me
Walked me stumbling
Polaroid shot
Plastic cuffs
Put on a jail bus
With women
Crying
Sitting
They were singing
Holding cell
With women
Talking
Not in touch with my Self
Or My Body

Some other man cop
took me to be processed
booked
into a room with all the cops waiting.
Processing the arrested.
The cop who led me shouted:
“Who does this one belong to?”
Who does this one belong to?
WHO DOES THIS ONE BELONG TO?!!?

I would like to state for the record that I belong to NO MAN.

And then he turned around – McMan.
He saw me.
And he smiled.
And he said,
“There’s my girl.”
There’s my girl?
?!?THERE’s MY GIRL?!?

YOU CALL ME A BITCH
BEAT ME
AND TWO HOURS LATER
I’M YOUR GIRL?!?
FUCK YOU I am NOT your girl.

I got to experience the abuse cycle
On the streets of Denver
With a cop.
#1: You call me a bitch
#2: You beat me
#3: Then I’m your girl
The abuse cycle
Compliments of:
The State.

I should add
That day
WE
In our apparently
Women’s and men’s bodies
Of many shapes and shades
WE
Were protesting
columbus day
and a parade in Denver
that celebrates
among other things
the real history of
the domination of bodies
by one cristobal colon
& his minions
millions of bodies
At first the Taino, and then
And then
My pen, it stops here
First the Taino, and then…
I’m afraid I can’t complete the list
Don’t remember the actual peoples
Despite my education, the ignorance      lingers
The actual peoples
The nations I do not know
But I do know the list
IS LONG.
Of bodies
And more bodies

I do not equate my experience
As a 21st century
white woman
Body
With the destruction
Of whole peoples
Mostly brown
Women and men

But there is something
About that voice
That creeping close
To my body
That message
Meant for me
That day
That is a kernel
Of submission
of women especially
fundamental misogyny
hatred of women
fundamental building block of our current reality
the notion
that as man
I will dominate you
by any means necessary

You dumb bitch
You
Are less than me
Under me
Nothing really
But a
Dumb. Bitch. A dog. That reproduces.
And now I tell you so.
And I show you.
So don’t forget it,
Bitch.

Not to worry, officer
I haven’t forgotten it
Though it may seem preferable to.
No, sir.
I remember
And this remembering
That I am NOT dumb
NOR a vessel created for the reproduction of your species
Believe me, I can be a bitch.
But I am NOT a dumb bitch
OR your girl.

I remember
your voice
your laugh
your weapons
your riot gear
your smirk
your condescension
your lies on the stand
when they asked you
if you called me a Dumb Bitch
you said,
“I would NEVER say such a thing”
Never.
You are a liar.
In a long, long list of liars.
Deniers.
I remember you.

I remember. I refuse. I resist.
I remember you.
I remember the lies.
I resist denial.
I remember. I refuse. I resist.

And though I would NEVER
Thank you
For SHIT.
I am grateful.

For the glimpse
Really just a glimpse
For the knowledge
gained, a glimpse
In my own body
For the responsibility
That my body now carries
That carries with allyship
Taking risks
In streets
That this shit is real
That oppression is real
That violence is real
That privilege will not protect you
At all times
That my woman’s body
Shielded with white
Girded with education
Covered in Christianity
Still knows
I am a woman.

So you dislodged my privilege
whitechristianclergiedeven
And I remember in my body
What it means for woman
To be fully woman
And be hated for it
And not to take lightly
The pain
The human pain
That my privilege
Privileges
Normally masks
& that distances me
from the pain
inflicted
on millions and millions
of bodies
on streets
in fields
prisons
behind fences
within factories
skyscrapers
homes
all over the world
pain inflicted
in large part
by my own people
white
christian
u.s.ians

Who wants this privilege
of insulating oneself from pain?
The pain of others?
The pain of humanity?
I guess a lot of people want it
remaining with comfort
made less human
by the disfigurement of distance

The privilege of privilege
The privilege of not knowing
The privilege of not wanting to know
The energy that it takes not to know
The energy it takes to shield oneself from such knowledge
& as a result
to never know the experience of the vast majority of the world
to be so disconnected from human reality as to be
completely
and utterly
without
authentic human relationships
What kind of privilege is such denial?

So you dislodged my privilege, motherfucker.
Go ahead and consider it
A Job Well Done.

It did a job on me, it’s true
I lived disoriented for quite awhile
Realizing
that my privilege would not
protect me
from bodily brutality
especially not
as woman.
Especially if
I seek
Anything More
than surface-level change
Not smiling nicely
asking politely
for some crumbs from your table
But sitting in the street
With others
Of many colors
and a resolute “Fuck you.”
Very unlike
A respectable clergy
Woman

But Community and
Spirituality
have restored
my equilibrium
& have restored
your acts of violence
into a source
of resistance
a well of strength
& anger
Full of memories
of community
and crying
& overcoming
To resist again today
And tomorrow.

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>[1] The Journal of Postcolonial Networks and the Postcolonial Networks website offer alternative platforms to push the boundaries of postcolonial literature. The following PBPN published as part of the Postcolonial Networks website expresses one of the infinite number of postcolonial forms we seek to offer our readers.

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