To the ones who want to know the culture without having to know the savage

Why don’t you take my skin colour also?

Because as a kid, my complexion was a reflection of days I spent in the sun

But the day I was shamed for the crime of having brown skin

I locked myself away for the many summers to come

To this day I still can only watch from the window as my nieces and nephew bask in the sun

Hoping that they do not develop this disease of self-hate

That so often plagues the minds of native youth

 

Take the years of my self-hatred because I grew up in a white neighbourhood

As a kid I would dread the days we’d learn about the Indians

Sinking in my seat as a classroom of blonde hair and blue eyes turned to gawk

At the only brown face in the room

Take the fact that if I were to tell my family I was going to be traditional I’d be told I was

going to hell

 

Take away the need to dilute the bloodlines because the grandparents want white babies

I would often make my Métis ancestry known

Never because I was proud of my rich heritage

And the lineage of prevalence and survival of my ancestor

But because I thought that the sliver white blood coursing through my veins would make

me worthy

 

Take away the childhood memory of Superstore telling my mother she couldn’t bring her

purse into the store because to them she was just another thieving Indian

But they don’t know she wakes her daughter up at 5 a.m. to take a bus across town to get an

education and provide for her children

 

Take a Native’s place when being brutalized by police, getting kicked in the face when you’re

already in handcuffs

Take experiences of being spit on from bus windows and being called a dirty Indian all in

the same breath

Take the heartache of our missing and murdered Indigenous woman from our heavy hearts

while Canada still sleeps at night

Because to them, we are disposable

Our cries only matter when it’s voting season

Because there are people who will hear this who have and will continue to write me off as

another ungrateful Indian


Tiara Anderson is a 16-year-old Anishinaabe writer, poet, and artist living in Winnipeg. She is going into her senior year of high school, where she is a mentor for an Aboriginal girl’s program called ‘Nakoda Girls’. This poem is a spoken word piece she began writing at age 12.

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