If you’re learning about Indian Residential Schools in the U.S. and Canada for the first time; it’s critical you're cognizant of the fact that these systems of colonial violence deliberately inflicted intergenerational trauma on Indigenous communities. Navigating our own lack of knowledge about this type of government-backed, church-led atrocity should not be placed on the shoulders of those who bear its scars.
If we’re committed to being an anti-racist and not just an ally (yes, there is a nuanced difference) then we have to make a conscious effort to unpack our own racism -- which can be really uncomfortable -- and remove the barriers we unconsciously put up when we're made aware that something we've said, done or shared is racist.
The Chí’chil Biłdagoteel Historic District, also known as Oak Flat, in Arizona, USA is a sacred site of immense cultural importance to numerous Native Nations who -- over millennia -- have used the area for their traditional ceremonies and medicine gathering. Despite this overwhelming significance to them, it's under threat from being completely destroyed by mining giant, Rio Tinto.
What we say can have great impact. Words lead to beliefs. Beliefs lead to action. Action leads to change. And change leads to liberation. How we speak to ourselves, the way we talk to others and the thoughts and utterances that we deliver into the world have power.
Words can be powerful. They can uplift, inspire, make us laugh, get us thinking, reveal perspectives unseen, fortify, find common ground — and so much more. Choosing how we speak to ourselves or others, coupled with action that comes from those words, arguably, is one of the most impactful things we can do.
If you live on colonized land, such as the United States, how much do you know about the Indigenous People who are its original custodians? Do you know which tribes and nations resided in your specific area before forced removal? Do you know where they are now? I would take a guess that maybe a lot of you don’t, and that’s something we should all work on to rectify.
Writing prompts can help give us content ideas or alleviate writer’s block when it strikes, but they can also be an opportunity to pause and reflect. We can use them to practice gratitude but also challenge ourselves to examine how we practice our humanity.
The effects of climate change are measurable and being felt today. It’s not a theoretical or distant cataclysm that can be put off being dealt with — we have to act now. And we have to start listening to the Indigenous communities who are on the front lines of protecting our natural world because they are among the first to feel its impact. We must help them safeguard what should be sacred to us all.