apache | doctor | nurse | mom | teacher
we just wanted some cookies
I took my kids to see our local orchestra perform. It was a magical performance, the kind where you linger a few minutes after the house lights have gone up because you just don’t want the music to end. After it became clear that the volunteer ushers were tired of us wasting their time and they wanted to go home, sit down, and watch Matlock, we gathered our coats, gloves, programs, books, devices, hats, and the kitchen sink (we don't travel light), and headed toward the exit.
On the way to our car we passed a new bakery. I was still feeling a little high from the music and therefore generous, so I suggested we poke our heads in and see if there was anything we might enjoy- maybe to prolong the good feeling just a little longer, or maybe we could get something yummy for tomorrow’s breakfast. No croissants, but they did have a very appealing selection of macarons. We waited in the very short line, then each boy selected two macarons.
As I began the quick payment transaction, I noticed with only a small bit of irritation that I was standing along-side a woman who had maybe not noticed the line of people waiting for their turn? While we had patiently waited in line then worked with the shopkeeper, this woman had walked into the shop and went directly to the register to make her order. The woman was older than me by more than a few years. She had tastefully colored blond hair, cleanly applied is-it-or-isn't-it make-up, and she was wearing clothes that were comfortable, stylish, and flattering. It takes money to get the holy trinity of fashion- that combo does not come from Target.
The shopkeeper began to tell me what I owed him for the cookies when we heard the unmistakable sound of Native American drumming, some Native American men were drumming and singing- essentially busking- not far from the bakery, We could hear it in the shop, mixing in with the general street sounds of Santa Fe. People do this from time to time here, trying to make a little money from the tourists. The woman next to me whispered loudly to everyone in the bakery with that delighted wonder in her voice that tourists get when they believe like they’re experiencing something special, “There are Indians outside!”
Without pause, I responded, “They’re inside too…”
At this point, I was just trying to pay for my damn macarons. I handed my $20 over to the shop-keeper. The woman looked over to me with a surprised look on her face.
I waited a beat then added, “...we’re everywhere!”
The cashier counted out my change, stone-faced. I took my macarons, and we exited the shop. The kids were very excited, in an "OH SNAP!" kind of way. They were delighted, and smug.
I don't often have opportunities to actively confront racism in public, in front of my kids. This was one of those times where I could not stop myself. Although it is hard for me, I do feel it is my responsibility as a parent to demonstrate for my kids just what it means to be a merciless Indian savage. I only hope I will always step up to the challenge when the opportunities arise.
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I'm a Chiricahua Fort Sill Apache Nurse Researcher. I write, speak, and think about health equity and parenting in our complicated world.
Views expressed here are my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.
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