On Love and Blind Hate

On Valentine’s Day

I’m not into it in the sense that I would be happy with a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and then we could call it a day. I hate to stay true to those materialistic “gimme gimme” foundations of our culture, but I do. But at least with a peanut butter cup, you can do this while filling the gas tank, picking up the shampoo, or at any local bodega, so I don’t think it’s too much to ask for anyway. Thankfully, I don’t expect roses that are overpriced and die in days. I don’t expect a Swarvoski watch or a lavish dinner where meal prices go up as you are paying the V-Day premium on everything.

No, I love everyone that I keep close to and I let them know via social media with the added “Happy Valentine’s Day” at the end of the sentence. I get to say ”I love you” to Mister every night (the perks of cohabitation), but sometimes I forget to do it for everyone else that I genuinely love also. I won’t go on some rant about Valentine’s Day being a consumer-driven “holiday” that we use as a measure of our worthiness, but rather I’ll say– Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

On Senator Grisanti, the Seneca’s, and casual racism

I assume by now a lot of people have heard about Senator Grisanti being attacked by individuals at the Seneca Niagara Casino over the weekend.

Here’s my deal with this whole thing. Senator Grisanti, as far as I know, has done right by the Seneca Nation and President Odawi Porter has respect for him and what his office has done. Grisanti helped pass the legalization of gay marriage in NYS for which I am a staunchly grateful for. But the whole of this story remains a blur and though Grisanti can’t be 100% blamed for this, there has been some perpetuation of stereotypes as a result of this breaking story. That I am not grateful for.

My gripe is mostly with the manner in which this was treated by the mass media. Why was it so pertinent to repeatedly remind people that it was a “Seneca Official” (whatever that means. President Porter even said it had nothing to do with the Nation)? The fact that this was portrayed as a vicious attack by drunken Indians at a Casino is not what people like myself, and others like me, need. I’ve followed this since the story broke because I’m aware of what happens when you ignite the public with dimly lit stereotypical beliefs and a one-sided story.

Listen, we don’t have all the facts. That much we know. Was the Senator and his wife viciously attacked by individuals who unfortunately represent a largely unrepresented group? Did they instigate a fight after having one too many?

I don’t know. My problem is this, a lot of people in this area aren’t too educated on the issues surrounding diversity. I’ve met a lot of people from this area who have no idea what it is to be a Seneca and after going through a NYS curriculum myself, I can see why they don’t know much about our history either. A lot of what people have in terms of “Indian knowledge” around here is what they pick up in the mass media. I spent an entire semester exploring this subject and the findings aren’t surprising. There’s nothing but stereotypes about Native people in those representations in the mass media. So what’s a middle-class suburbanite going to think about a Native person? Well, after this weekend we can probably suspect that some of them have added “bar room barbarian” to the otherwise popular notions of “drunken” or “uneducated.”

This affects me whether you believe it or not. I am not a drunk and I am educated, I’m knowledgable in my field and I want to work in Western New York. I don’t need is to have the local media treating this as if it’s solely an Indian/Casino/drunken deal. I’ve felt the wrath of prejudice and it’s not something you can easily brush off. It’s certainly not something I need while job searching.

In the meantime, I’m going to continue doing what I do. I will continue to educate myself, conducting myself in an appropriate matter, and being a loving, caring individual. It would just be nice if I knew that everyone knew how to disassociate the actions of an individual from the characteristics of the group.

Whatever your feelings toward the economics, politics, or other goings-on involving the Seneca Nation of Indians, I hope you don’t take this to be representative of an entire group. However, the kind of people I tend to attract, whether in person or with this blog, already know this.

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