Tag Archives: ableism

“I am a man”

In 1879, Chief Standing Bear of the Ponca people successfully argued that Native Americans are “persons within the meaning of the law” with the right of habeas corpus. The result of case, held in a U.S. District Court in Omaha, meant that Chief Standing Bear became the first Native American judicially granted civil rights under U.S. law. 

Nebraska recently unveiled a statue of Chief Standing Bear in the U.S. Capitol. A recent story about the statue and Standing Bear in The Washington Post story quotes Standing Bear’s affirmation of common humanity during his trial:

On the second day, Chief Standing Bear was called to testify, becoming the first Native American to do so. He raised his right hand and, through an interpreter, said: “My hand is not the color of yours, but if I pierce it, I shall feel pain. If you pierce your hand, you also feel pain. The blood that will flow from mine will be the same color as yours. The same god made us both. I am a man.”

“I am a man.” – Sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennesse.

“Ain’t I a woman,” – Sojourner Truth.

“I am a person. I am a human being.” – Countless people in countless situations.

Again and again, people have had to make that assertion as they struggle for civil rights and human rights in the face of oppression, discrimination, and prejudice.  The struggle continues today. It is shared across all social identities as structures grant privilege to some but  not to all. Key to creating and maintaining that privilege is denying the humanity of other people. When will we ever learn that everyone – everyone – is a human being entitled to basic human rights? When will we ever learn to treat one another with respect and love?

For Chief Standing Bear and Sojourner Truth and the sanitation workers of Memphis, may we renew our efforts to eviscerate, in the word of the CoInspire Conference, racism, sexism, ageism, ableism, homophobia, and all systems of privilege and oppression.

Learn more about Chief Standing Bear:

The Trial of Standing Bear – a PBS film

Chief Standing Bear: The Trail Ahead

The Story of Chief Standing Bear (.pdf)

“I Am a Man”: Chief Standing Bear’s Journey for Justice

Leave a comment

Filed under Antiracism, Current Events, National Park

Disrupt and dismantle

Killings motivated by racism at the Kroger where I shopped when I lived in Louisville.

Killings motivated by anti-Semitism at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, where I have never lived but claim as home because it is more recognizable than the nearby small towns where I did live.

Pipe bombs sent to public figures, putting at risk the intended recipients and everyone who came near the packages.

Words do not pull the trigger on guns. Words do not build explosive devices. But words create an atmosphere in which some people think it is somehow acceptable to build and send bombs and shoot guns. When we hear words that express hate or stoke violence, we need to find ways to respond.

Racism. Anti-Semitism. White supremacy. Patriarchy. Homophobia. Ableism. May we find ways to disrupt and dismantle these and all systems that divide us and distort our living.

See you along the Trail.

Leave a comment

Filed under Antiracism, Current Events, Gun Violence, Louisville, New York