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“Through the centuries, while their European counterparts in Europe grew up on stories that depicted women as weak, helpless, sinister, or untrustworthy, Native American women grew up hearing tales about the powers and strengths of women. They heard stories about women healers, women warriors, women artists, women prophets. But above all, they heard stories of woman as the divine creator, woman as a supernatural power, woman as a force of transformation in the universe. There are dozens of variations in the details, but the core meaning is consistent: women, and the female forces of the universe, are strong. Sometimes they are so powerful that they can change the course of the world. Often, once they take a stand, they change their own lives and the lives of those around them. ”—
Susan Hazen-Hammond, Spider Woman’s Web: Traditional Native American Tales About Women’s Power
[This quote is from the FIRST TWO FUCKING PAGES of the introduction.]
“Now I've really seen it all. Michelle Williams is on the cover of AnOther Magazine, in apparent Redface. Michelle burst into the spotlight when she was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in Brokeback Mountain (2005). Later, she was nominated for Oscars for her work in Blue Valentine (2010) and Marilyn (2011). She is now starring as Glinda The Good Witch in Oz: The Great and Powerful (now in theaters). Dressed in a braided wig, dull beads, and turkey feathers while sporting a decidedly stoic expression, AnOther Magazine and company ups the ante by putting Michelle in a flannel shirt, jeans, and what appears to be some sort of academic or legal robe. I smell an attempt to portray reservation nobility. Are they endeavoring to capture the spirit of the American Indian Movement (AIM) circa 1973? Is this an ad for the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) or the American Indian College Fund (AICF)? Nope. It's a 33 year old white actress hyping her latest Hollywood project by wearing a cheap costume designed to make her look like she's the member of another race. Am I glad that unlike most racist, stereotypical caricatures of American Indians in pop culture today (Victoria's Secret's Racist Garbage Is Just Asking for a Boycott), Michelle is not practically naked? Yes--but just as Blackface is never okay, Redface is never okay. Ever.”—Ruth Hopkins, “Why Is Michelle Williams In Redface?”, Jezebel 3/12/13
Casting Call: Native American Actors
Maluco Studios, a production company specializing in the martial arts/action genre with bases in Florida and Bangkok Thailand, is looking for Native American/Indigenous actors for multiple upcoming film projects.
If you are Native (any North/South American Nation/Tribe is fine), live in Florida and are in the craft of acting or interested in getting into it, please send us your information as we need actors and consultants! If you are interested in the production side of filmmaking, we are offering apprenticeships as well.
We cannot stress this enough: You have to identify as Native American. A familiarity with your Nation’s history and culture as well as and understanding of (and even participate in addressing) issues today is highly encouraged. Being mixed is completely fine, but any information submitted to the effect of “My great grandmother was a Cherokee princess” or “I’m 40% Blackfoot” will not be considered and will be discarded immediately. Any actor of any other ethnicity that submits their information claiming to be able to “pull off the Native look” will also be added to our Ban List (yes, we have one).
Maluco Studios is a film company that prides itself on breaking away from the norm. We create stories and characters that break away from stereotypes and address real issues and struggles, finding the balance between informative and visually entertaining.
If you are Native/Indigenous, live in Florida and already (or want to be) involved in filmmaking on either side of the camera, please send resumes, biographies, headshots/pictures, demo reels, etc. to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Casting Call: Native American Actors” in the subject line.
Peace & Blessings.
Oppression in the Classroom
Today I stood helpless in class as the only Taiwanese aboriginal student at the predominantly Han Chinese school I teach at got torn apart by his Han classmates, who systematically debased and dismissed him as stupid. At this school, when my coteacher is teaching a class, I am not permitted to interrupt or participate in any way besides working with students one on one, and I was busy helping a special needs student when it happened.
It started with small comments here and there, “Oh, he can’t spell his own (English) name,” “Ugh, you messed up again?” and then culminated with my teacher pulling him in front of the class in a group for an activity. During that activity, a Han Chinese girl kept shouting again and again that he wasn’t doing the appropriate actions, even as a Han student stood next to him also do nothing.
“He’s not doing anything!” she shouted finally, pointing directly at him.
And that’s when I felt the stab of pain hit me, as I watched from the side of the classroom as he got hurt in a way so familiar to me, and paralyzed momentarily, did nothing to intervene. That’s when I watched him leave early from the activity and slump back to his seat. That’s when I walked over to him, and as I put my arm around his back, he immediately broke down in tears in my arms.
And as I sat there comforting him, his tears rolling down his cheeks, my Han Chinese coteacher and his classmates didn’t say a word and just continued on with class like nothing was happening.
Their dismissive approach to his pain was possibly even worse than the ridicule itself, because I could see how viciously dominant culture operates in these situations, and having gone to basically all white school myself for much of my life, I felt it too. I know how much it hurts to feel that you are never good enough, no matter how hard you try,and that your pain is meaningless to those operating from a position of power and privilege. And I could see the oppressive nature of it all here, bitingly hitting this bright, 11 year-old aboriginal kid with so much hurt.
As I comforted him, I switched into Chinese and told him that his classmates were incredibly mean, and that it was like that for me as a kid too. And then I told him again and again that I “believed in him” and that he needs to “believe in himself” too because I know how smart he is, even if the others said otherwise. At the end, as he started to wipe away his tears, I asked him if he knew he was smart too, and he said:
“… I know.”
And I proceeded to help him go over the material we had covered in class until the bell rang a few moments later.
But I wish that I could have done more. I wish that I had done something to stop this blatant discrimination against my student based on his aboriginal identity (which has been institutionalized in Taiwan). I wish I had stepped in and stood up against my Taiwanese coteacher, rules be damned, and could have helped him or done something. And I wish that he didn’t have to feel the pain caused by these painful systems of oppression, even at his young age.
And as I sit here almost in tears remembering it all, I know that, if something like that ever happens again, I need to stand up and stop it from repeating. Nobody may have been there for me as a kid in my predominantly white elementary schools, but I will be there for this student and others. Dominant culture be damned.