It’s time we stand up for ourselves

Star Diavolikis, Columnist

It is time for Native Americans and all people of color to unify and combat oppression.

KIMA Action News, a news station reporting for the Yakima Valley, covered a story regarding a Native American boy being hurt by police at the Central Washington State Fair in 2018. A group of teens were fighting as Yakima Police were called to break up the dispute.

A bystander started recording the commotion, where it is shown the boy was pepper sprayed within a close proximity and yelled at before being violently kicked in the back by an officer, which sent him slamming into the ground. 

The Yakima Herald, a Yakima Valley newspaper, reports that the officer was deemed justified to use that amount of force on the victim. If you watch the video, it is clear he used enough force to break a door down. This leaves a lingering thought of how the event would have played out if the victim was white and the officer was black, Native American, or Latino.

There have been many times where my family, which consists of my brother, mother and I, are simply trying to do activities in public when we are treated like we committed a crime for simply existing. My mother and I will walk in the grocery store, and many older white women will clutch their purses as we walk by, and they expect us to move out of their way.

We went to a seafood restaurant for my brother’s birthday dinner, got seated after 20 minutes, and sat there for half an hour with no server. However, a white family of 10 came in a few minutes after we were seated, got seated instantly, and had their orders taken within five minutes. This upset us, as we were not in a hidden corner. We were seated right in the entryway where waiters walked past constantly.

As we attempted to leave, the old white male who was supposed to be our waiter blocked me from getting out of the booth by standing directly in my way and having his legs pressed against the booth. It ended with me yelling and panicking, running out as the man scoffed and grumbled. Nobody batted an eye at the commotion.

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s website presents readers polls regarding discrimination made towards Native Americans in 2017. Published on Nov. 14, 2017, the article states, “More than one-third of Native Americans report slurs, violence, harassment, and being discriminated against in the workplace.”

Also within the article, it is stated 23% of Native Americans stated they were discriminated against when going to a doctor or health clinic. Furthermore, 15% of Native Americans stated they avoided seeking healthcare due to fear of being treated poorly and/or being discriminated against.

We people of color need to start speaking up more. Do not be afraid to call out a business for racial profiling or to tell your friend they are talking over you when you speak on these issues. We are simply trying to exist in society. We are not savages. We are not some “drunks on a dirty rez” or “drunks that work in the fields.” Let’s try to abolish normalized racism once and for all. Native Americans, and all people of color, need to defend ourselves so everybody knows we are not jokes. We are real people and deserve to be treated fairly.