It Ain't Easy Being Indian: April 2015

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ricey wild.jpgA few months ago my son Steve visited

me and my friends at the Risky Raccoon Kasino Hotel where we were

staying for a powwow. My son told us he got pulled over by a cop and

my mother’s heart skipped a beat; I immediately thought he was

being racially profiled and thoughts of all the recent slayings of

unarmed black men by police made me catch my breath.

Steve pulled a copy of the report out

of his pocket and showed it to us, it was a warning and then he said,

“Look closer.” The police officer had checked the ‘white’ box

where there was a choice for race. I looked at him and said

“Whaaaaaat?” He was still pretty brown as far as I could tell, I

mean I’m Native and his father is African-American so his being

mistaken for white even though we also have French ancestors was

rather a stretch. So I did what anyone would do. I laughed but since

then I have pondered why?

Why? Why did he let him go? It came to

me that police officers have to turn in their papers after each shift

and perhaps the cop didn’t want his brethren to know he let an

innocent brown man off with only a warning! I have convinced myself

that was the why and wherefore because of the extreme racist

atmosphere that is law enforcement culture. I add here I do not paint

all police employees as being racist; instead I will let the glaring

facts speak for themselves. My concern is not only people of color

but anyone who takes up activism for the benefit of all peoples.

During the Ferguson protests I was

disgusted to see all the military tanks, armored vehicles and police

not only dressed for possible riots but in full battle gear and gas

masks to confront unarmed American citizens carrying signs and

chanting against yet another murder by police. I was so mad when I

saw the brutal militaristic show of force but I was worried too. What

if the police began shooting people? Fifty years ago the Voting

Rights Act was signed and now this after so many gave their lives for

freedom and equality? I, for one, will not let them have died in vain

for their efforts even if it’s only by writing.

Some years ago when I still lived in

the Big City I got a call from my mother. The first thing she said

was, “What did you do?” I said whattaya mean what did I do? She

said, “Well there are a couple of white women in front of my house

with some police who are asking for you. So what did you do?” My

mouth fell open and I thought about the previous night. I had gone

out to the club and came home and that was it. I said so to my mom

and she said well we’re on our way up north.

Now, I didn’t earn the name ‘Wild’

for no reason but I was miffed that anyone including my mother would

just assume that I had done something awful to warrant the police to

look for me. IKR? So much for motherly love and understanding ennit?

I went to lie down for a nap when I heard violent buzzing of my door

speaker then loud rapping on my door. Jeez. I got out of bed, crept

what I thought was silently toward the door and listened. I heard a

man say, “She’s right behind the door” to someone else. I have

four silver bracelets that I always wear so I think their jingling

was what tipped him off. I said, “Who’s there?” “Police!”

came the reply, “we just want to talk to you.” Like the most

naïve of simpletons I opened the door knowing that whatever it was

about I am innocent. Then … (cue ominous music).

There were two of Minneapolis’

finest in the hallway. The white cop asked me if anyone was home with

me. Puzzled, I said no and in that instant he grabbed my wrists and

pulled me out of my apartment. Grinning like a fiend he cuffed me up

and hauled me to his squad car parked right outside. Once inside I

asked “why am I being arrested?” I protested I had done nothing

wrong … and on and on becoming more anxious and terrified by the

second. This could NOT be happening, not to me! Then the nightmare

continued downtown under the clock.

I was booked, had to strip in front of

a female officer and was fingerprinted and I was bawling profusely

all the while.

Sorry I have to wrap this up for now

but I promise I’ll deliver the conclusion in May’s issue. My bad.

Or am I?