Speech Audio Recording 14:00 min with Transcript 1,820 words:
"Methods of Transformation to Politics of Gender & Justice: Transforming Race Relations Starting with Language" by René White (Feather) a guest speaker for the 2015 Politics of Gender and Justice conference at George Mason University, Fairfax, Va. Friday, April 24. René credits her husband Chris (Comeswithclouds) White for in inspirational words and Creator God that made this speech even possible. René is president of the Native American Church of Virginia, a Sanctuary on the Trail.™
The only barriers that exist are in language. And starting with language we can bridge the fundamental gap in our society.
For instance, words like “primitive,” “uncivilized,” “savages,” the people who created those words had passion. They made a difference. But, the context, intent and impact of those words on our Native American ancestors continues to linger in our history books, under headings of old photographs and in spoken words as we describe Native Americans today.
There is mysterious power in the spoken word. If our words are just thoughts without language it does not come into being.
Without language we could not dream. Without language we cannot imagine. Without language we cannot tell anyone anything. Without language nothing could have come into existence.
I am a Native American and military veteran.
My state recognized Tribe is called the Lumbee: the largest tribe in North Carolina, the largest tribe east of the Mississippi River and the ninth largest in the nation. Yet many people, do not know we exist.
I served 22 years in the military volunteering to protect and defend our U.S. Constitution, our freedoms, our lands and our natural resources.
I know what angry and mean words sound like. I remember what happened in my life, and I remember the story I made up about what happened. But just because we remember, we do not have to keep living “what happened” over and over and projecting it into our future.
I know what it feels like to be assimilated, shunned, treated unfairly and discriminated against. What it feels like to rise above a standard, a class or a category others have put me in and try to keep me in.
We do that. We categorize people. “People like this are smart. People like those get promoted. Women like her are pretty. People like him are rich. People who do that die.”
We invest a lot into self-identity and comparing to and against others. But, who am I that reality is? We are not our resume.
Where is the justice in putting people into categories? I believe where there is no truth, there is no justice.
What was the true context that the United States forefathers meant when they penned the "immortal declaration," “all men are created equal?” Did they mean mankind? Or did they mean all white men, excluding all women, the black race and all Native Americans?
What did the person who authored “noble savage” mean? Was he or she describing people who are “barbarous and uncivilized” or describing “the others” as a people who “symbolize humanity’s innate goodness?”
Generations go on for centuries trying to achieve results from misunderstood or out of context principles and truths.
By “context” I mean, if I hold my index finger in the air like this and there is no context what does it mean? It could mean anything. I’m still holding my index finger in the air and the context is “direction” what does it mean? It means “up.” If the context is “number,” it means “one.”
What happens when a judge didn’t set the context in a case and the system locks up a parent and the state takes custody of a child?
If there is no “context” in communication and it is left up to each person’s interpretation, and if that context was not in the perfect will of our Creator (which I believe is the Word or language of God), we have pestilence, wars, chaos, corruption and confusion.
In the U.S. Declaration of Independence, what truths were they holding to be “self-evident?”
In our pledge of allegiance, what was their context of, “One Nation Under God.” Are we changing the context now? Is it more politically correct to say, the “human race” is created equal? Let’s talk about it. Let’s work through our different opinions rather that swim in a sea of opinions and conflict.
I believe politics is different from truth. Politics is an art or science. Truth isn’t either right nor wrong, it just is.
Sometimes politics can be on the other side of truth. After all, the nature of politics is to exploit truth with shades of grey giving place to setting one group above another or giving preferential treatment to one group over another. If we are not careful politics can adulterate truth.
Truth lies in words. The power of the spoken “word.” The power of the loud word. Sung word. Whispered word. The power of the spoken “word” is underestimated and not fully understood. It is not by faith alone that we can move mountains. We have to “tell” the mountain to move.
“Power, control, powerlessness, authority, influence, sovereignty, independence and freedom” are all contained in language and have vibrations.
The only barriers that exist are in language.
Only in language can we critique music or discuss what it means to be a women. Only in language can we define a tree.
Only with language can we travel forward and backward in time. We can only “speak” of what we did yesterday or last year. We can only “speak” of our plans for tomorrow. The past is gone and the future is a thought which is not yet come. We cannot taste what we do not have yet. We cannot see the future. We cannot hold the future in our hands. It is about what you say with your mouth and believe with your heart that creates.
Language can bridge the fundamental gap in our society and the fundamental gap is “self.” We are selfish. We mostly look out for our self or our own. Rarely do we look out for community. Our loyalty is low. Our integrity is low. Our word is low. We are late. We tell white lies. Like shifting shadows, we say yes when we mean no, and no when we mean yes. The world pollutes us to, “get what we want for our self and get it now.”
We are slow to listen and quick to speech. Quick to become angry in attempts to bring about our own desires. We are not present. Not being present too each other is like looking in the mirror at yourself and then walking away and immediately forgetting what you look like.
Our communication is complicated by texting and simplified into capital letters because we don’t make time to talk to each other. When people type LOL they aren’t really laughing. When people don’t want to take time to explain something they say TTYL, but they never really talk to you later. When people say, “praying for you”, they aren’t really.
The value of our conversations is diminishing. The value of our words are losing value. Our communication is superficial.
Let’s not get too busy to create space for authentic communication. We can control how words affect us and can prevent words from hurting us. We can live more fearlessly, more understood, more accepted with non-resistance and have freedom of self-expression.
If we have freedom of self-expression we might find out how much we really have in common; that we are more alike than we are different. We can find out more authentically who we all.
The Greek word for peacemaker is “i-ray-nop-op-os.” (Eirenepoios); interpreted “Peace Poet.”
We need more peacemakers. As a poet creates poetry, to become lovers of peace we must make peace or craft it – in our homes, in our businesses, in our state, in our country – in ourselves, in our hearts and in our minds. The good words that are planted in all of us can save us all.
Most importantly, we need to get present. I’ve spent most of my life “not present;” being sincere only to cover up my own in-authenticity.
Getting present feels good. It means I really care. You really care. Getting present is really listening. Not just hearing. It’s selfless listening.
We must work on our language. To be present to what people around us are saying and what they are not saying. It is vital to removing the barriers that separate us.
Likewise, we cannot skirt our responsibility for what we are saying. The tongue is a sharp part of the body. Like a forest fire set by a small spark, the tongue is also a fire. It can set the whole course of your life on fire. A fire can be destructive and a fire can be beneficial. Are your words destructive or beneficial.
We should help others understand that we “mean what we say” and we “say what we mean.” Out of the mouth comes truth of authentic or inauthentic heart.
Truth can communicate beyond the barriers of politics and ideologies. Truth can speak a universal language. Through truth, we can see white as the presence of all colors of light, not just the color of one’s skin.
It is up to each of us to create the correct language or correct the incorrect language and set the clear context and intent for all of our conservations.
Clear communications can help bridge, clean up and repair the divides that separate us. Authentic communications, with integrity can help us look at how we are alike rather than how we are different.
Let us not allow cultural diversity to threaten our unity. It is about loving thy neighbor as thy self. It is about being peacemakers. It is about making a difference. It is about saying what you mean and meaning what you say. It is about not taking our words lightly
I personally choose to live my life not worrying about who stole my teepee or about what happened. What happened, happened.
I aim to create new possibilities for myself, my family, my town and my country that can transform our communities and our relationships. I am still trying to master my communications. It is a daily walk. A daily talk.
Together we can remove the only barriers that exist by creating new language, which brings forth new attitudes, new perspectives and new possibilities for a better future.
What are you saying – in your conversations with your children, with your employees, with your students and in your community?
Are you speaking a language that motivates, encourages and inspires or discriminates and demeans and criticizes? Are you reacting or responding?
We can create new possibilities, new language and new way of being with each other that can transform our experiences in this life right now.
In fact, it is a “truth,” that we will create our future possibilities by the actions that we choose to make or not to make right now.
The future of the world depends on you – whether just or unjust – we all have cause in the matter.
Let us all create something good with new language.
Consider it pure joy that I should have this opportunity to share this message with you today. Thank you for having me.