May 20, 2021
We are the forces of Indigenous women working to end violence within our respective communities, commonly known as tribes. Recently, on May 5th, we watched the nation and President Biden commemorate a National Day of Awareness for Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW). Many of us in this work from grassroots to advocacy will tell you that the day was for you, not for us. We remember EVERY day, in EVERY moment that we are missing, that we are murdered at 10x the national average on some reservations.
One day to commemorate feels underwhelming in the face of 364 other days that we need support, awareness, and intentional action to end this violence against us. We are 2.5x more likely to be assaulted in our lifetimes. We are 5x more likely to experience interracial violence. More than 60% of us will be physically assaulted in our lifetimes. These numbers are staggering.
My intention is not only to bring awareness to this issue, but to also remind our non-Native relatives of who we are. The notable cause of this violence is that we are often dehumanized, over sexualized, and fetishized in media spaces. But we are not relics of the past, we are your teachers, doctors, lawyers, sisters, friends, aunties, and so, so much more in community. We cook for you. We shower your children with love in the same way we shower our own. We are on the PTA with you. We are your neighbors. This is not a reservation issue; it is a community issue that we can each play a role in bringing awareness. Sarah Deer, an attorney of Indian Law reminds us that “Predators may target Native women and girls precisely because they are perceived as marginalized and outside the protection of the American legal system.”
This is a pivotal moment in Indian country in our work to end violence. We can each play a role in addressing head on the settler colonial violence that we now name as MMIW. Know that you can take any and all of the following steps to understand our communities and be better equipped to interrupt the violence adversely affecting Indigenous nations in Idaho and across Turtle Island:
Our work at the Idaho Coalition is people focused; we celebrate movements that center wellness and thriving and we work toward ensuring our solutions to end violence embody interconnectedness. Many of our programs are NOT Indigenous nor do they serve predominantly Indigenous populations but our hope for you is to learn about, advocate, and empower solutions to end violence in your respective spheres that center on our relatives most impacted by marginalization and oppression. This recognition must also take heed of the fact that these solutions must be led by these communities. That is our ask today and every day.
Towards collective thriving.
Three Things to reach out to me for:
Violence prevention author and educator Jeff Perera (@jeffperera on twitter and Higher Unlearning website) stated how men can show up for others to prevent harm (i.e. domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, anti-racism, LGBTQ+ rights, youth work, etc.) by stating three plain statements: I see you, I feel you, I got you. These phrases already exist in many of our vocabularies, so let’s dig in and put action to our words.
“I see you.” Simple and powerful, If we mean it. To “see” others who have different identities than my own (cis-gendered, heterosexual, bi-racial, able-body, U.S. citizen, middle-age father in middle income tax bracket) it requires time. Time to digest the stories and statistics of violence against people who do not share my identities. Data from the World Health Organization declaring 1 in 3 women worldwide will experience sexual violence in their lifetime or the pay inequity realities for women. These data points matter, the stories of each human being represented matter. To see simply means to believe.
“I feel you” will require some nurturing for men. We have had empathy coached out of us by others by the time we reached “school bus age”. To protect us from how others would interpret our tears of fear or expressions of love, adults coached us to “be a big boy” or “man-up” by keeping those expressions of emotions packed away into the depths of our selves when we entered school or other public settings. What we needed then and deserve now are freedoms to express those feelings of fear, shame, joy, love, uncertainty, in any way that is safe to ourselves and others. Men must nurture themselves AND the young boys in our lives to maintain our empathetic views for others. Men, I invite you to consume media from authors with identities that differ from your own. bell hooks book The Will to Change is a great place to start. Through others stories, we can begin to gain a view of their experiences of living on the same planet with vastly different experiences.
“I got you” means just that you are ready, willing, and open to help when/where you can. Accepting direction from women, being present for the young people in your life, donating time and money to causes that seek to uplift marginalized communities are some ways men can be part of the solution to ending violence in our communities. Men have been raised for action, so let’s flex that muscle while receiving directions from Black women, Indigenous women and other women of color who have created the community networks for safety, healing and connection. Let’s be in service to others to make our communities safer for all.
In upcoming months, check out A Call to Men, Men Stopping Violence, and Men Can Stop Rape, all national organizations who engage men, to participate in webinars, trainings and calls to action for men. We can play a role in healing our communities AND ourselves. Let’s mend together by reconnecting our heads to our hearts and experience humanness as we were intended.
Three Things to reach out to me for:
Advocate Training COVID Series
Thursday, May 27 | 12:00pm-1:30pm MT | 11:00am-12:30pm PT
In honor of Women’s Health Week that took place earlier this month, the Advocate Training COVID series picks up with a panel discussion on how the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated pre-existing racial health disparities for Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities. The discussion will include insights from Angie Hernández-Harris and Gabrielle Davis, Idaho licensed counselors, and Noemi Juarez, an Idaho domestic violence and sexual assault advocate.
The panelists will discuss how services providers can better understand these disparities and what steps they can take to identify and interrupt these disparities in their work with survivors.
Do you have a question for the panelists? Email your questions to Kailey at email@example.com
by May 24.
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