How Can We Get You To See Us?

shops

© Jade M. Wong

“You really think this will replace the statue in Columbus Circle, Sky?”

“Of course not, Corey. I created this in protest. The city still won’t remove the Columbus statue, in spite of our petition. Seattle, L.A., even Phoenix for Christ’s sake have changed Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. When will New York wake up?”

“Something that looks like a pregnant albino donut shot with arrows and bleeding is going to raise awareness?”

“You have no concept of art, Corey.”

“I’m telling you sis, they’ll ignore us just like they always have.”

“What’s your bright idea?”

“Shedding real blood would get their attention.”

“We’ve lost every war we’ve ever had with them, Corey. That’s why most of our people live on the res in poverty and alcoholism. We’ve got to make them see us, hear us, and understand us. If your group gets violent, they’ll dismiss us just like “Black Lives Matter.” You’re an author, Corey. A storyteller. Tell our story and keep telling it until they have to listen. Please. There’s no other way.”

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge-Week of August 29, 2017. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for creating a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 175.

I noticed the image had the words “Shops at Columbus Circle” so I started there, and then read more about Columbus Circle itself including the statue of Christopher Columbus. I recalled reading some news about Indigenous Peoples’ Day and how it’s gaining traction in possibly replacing Columbus Day in some communities.

Combined with the piece of art shown in the photo, I decided to create this story.

How do you get a large, powerful group of people to listen to you? Peaceful protests are often ignored, and disruptive, violent protests and even riots, while they get a great deal of attention, usually result in a negative label being attached to the protestors. Making seemingly unreasonable and outrageous demands such as these just results in you becoming the object of ridicule (although to be fair, Snopes.com puts a different spin on the matter).

So what’s the answer?

I don’t know if I have one except to keep telling your story and take the moral high road. If you don’t back down, if you keep your story in front of people but you do so in a way that shows you in a positive light, then eventually people of good conscious will be able to enter into a dialog and then real change will begin. At least that’s my hope.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

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20 thoughts on “How Can We Get You To See Us?

    • Traditionally, school children have been taught that “Columbus discovered America,” so yes. However in recent years and decades, more of the true history surrounding Columbus and his treatment of indigenous people here have come to light, making him and the holiday named after him somewhat controversial in certain circles. All that said, tradition dies hard and sometimes tradition is stronger than history.

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  1. Part of the problem is that the wrong objects are often targeted unjustly, without sufficient connection to the desired message. Of course it is unconvincing to target Columbus, who was an explorer not an exploiter. He did nothing against “indigenous peoples” except allow others to become aware of their existence. There is no wrong in honoring his efforts, just as there is no wrong in referring to the “Americas”, both northern and southern subcontinents, merely because the name is derived from that of another explorer Amerigo Vaspucci. It is also not wrong in any degree that Europeans and many others migrated to these lands. Humans have been migrating hither and yon for millennia. Even the so-called “indigenous peoples” migrated to these lands, though they did so perhaps a millennium or two earlier than the Europeans. All of the injustices that rightly may be protested occurred later, during clashes between peoples and civilizations. Even the recent fuss over monuments commemorating figures from the wrong side of the American Civil War 150 years ago does not address any of the attitudes or values which characterized that conflict and which may still affect current conflicts. To offer a pithy observation, one cannot make war on statues, or the history they represent. Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it (as observed by George Santayana more than a century ago). One can, hopefully, learn from these monuments and their history, and seek to “repair the world”, in the sense of the Jewish mitzvah called “tikun haOlam”.

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    • Point one is that you can’t undo historical injustices and continually hammering away at modern day people groups blaming them for the actions of their ancestors isn’t going to change anything.

      I also happen to agree with Santayana and the so-called objectionable statues can serve as a reminder of what we shouldn’t do in the future rather than tearing them down and trying to artificially sanitize American history. After all, Jews don’t demand that Auschwitz be burned to the ground and in fact, it is a powerful reminder of how we must not repeat the horrors of the past. If these reminders didn’t exist, as you and Santayana say, we’d forget they’d ever happened and worse, how morally repugnant they are.

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      • Also true is that one must not sanitize or romanticize earlier “indigenous” cultures, merely because they were overwhelmed by later ones whose questionable behaviors are better documented than those of peoples who did not record their history in the same degree of detail, nor in any enduring form that might be analyzed in a later era. Those who *did* record their practices, such as the Inca, left some rather gruesome records of their own. Some of the Amerind tribes also left gruesome impressions upon their neighbors, even before Europeans arrived; and some early former-Europeans observed such practices for themselves. They did not invent human incivility — such behavior extends back to the beginnings of the human species.

        An objective anthropological analysis of cultural interactions in the northern American sub-continent would be a study in conflict between disparate hunter-gatherer societies and a somewhat unified commercial-agrarian one. Of necessity, the latter had developed more advanced technologies and boundary definitions, along with weaponry and a sense of their history of development away from the conditions of the prior societies they encountered. It would have required an even more advanced culture to have developed laissez-faire attitudes, and a motivation to preserve the historical example of hunter-gatherer societies, to prevent the clashes that occurred. The reservations might have been larger, to accommodate buffalo herds and forests, but separation between the civilizations still would have been required unless the hunter-gatherers could have been convinced to manage portions of these lands as national parks where visitors would be tolerated and welcomed under suitable conditions. Even then a slow attrition would have occurred to blur the boundaries, leading ultimately to the demise of hunter-gatherer society for the same reasons it declined elsewhere, in favor of more advanced development. The process might have required a millennium, and it might have been less painful, but it would have been nonetheless ineluctable.

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