I sat there watching the globule of spit slide down my driver’s side window.
It moved slowly, dragging enzymes and DNA behind on its abusive crawl downward.
I could see her face in behind two walls of glass, laughing.
She was lovely, long black hair, dark skin, stark white teeth, all Native – and all mean.
She could’ve been mistaken as my sister, I’m sure.
Maybe if she was, it would explain her hatred.
Maybe if I had stolen a boyfriend,
taken her candy when she was little
or left her behind somewhere.
Maybe then she would have a reason to spit on my car while I sat there at the gas station, spit at my face behind the glass.
They were laughing, her and her boyfriend.
For a few long moments I considered slamming my door into the side of their car, grabbing that long black hair and ripping to my heart’s content.
Just perfect. Two Native girls savagely attacking each other in the parking lot of Ole’s for no reason,
no reason at all.
But everyone would have a reason to watch, to talk, to point, to shake their heads at the heathens.
And I’d have a reason for my ass to be sent to jail for sure. Hello, old friend, goodbye steady paycheck.
So instead, I just stared at her.
I just stared and wished for her to see me, see that I am only another insecure human.
I stared and wished that she would take the wall down.
Peel away the fear,
Push away the anger,
Stop being the angry native that everyone wants her to be,
Stop playing the part,
Stop hiding behind an image.
I stared and shook with the intensity of my own desire for the hatred to go away- hers and my own.
I thought about cutting my hair as I drove off, still shaking.
When my hair is long, there is no question what ethnicity I am, here in MT people recognize
My high cheekbones
My black eyes
My dark skin
My hair. My long, straight, unwavering declaration that I am Native.
I AM NATIVE
See me so that you can stop peering into me
See that I am nothing of anything that you think you know everything about.
See that I am torn
I haven’t any prolific words
Or prayers left by magical ancestors
But I am still not dead and gone
See that I am STILL HERE
I am REAL
I am flesh & blood, human
I am a daughter, sister, wife, and mother.
My beauty is built on scars
My triumph is built on knowing how ugly I can be.
I am success and failure and effort in a continuing circle.
I am more than worthless words from the past and good intentions.
See that I am not your answer to questions unasked or left hanging.
See that my progress is NOT trapped in a so called legacy.
See that my soul is streaked with the past, stained with the present and blank for tomorrow.
I refuse to be broken forever.
See that I will not bear the burden of defeat.
I HAVE BEEN DEFEATED BY NO ONE.
Not by her