Terese Marie Mailhot: I was raised to be angry at White women

Terese Marie Mailhot. Photo from Facebook

Writer Terese Marie Mailhot doesn't want her children growing up in an atmosphere of hate and resentment:
I was raised to be angry at white women. I’m not blaming it on my mom, but she often said white people brought genocide and disease. “We didn’t even have rats,” she said. “They brought them on their boats!” Smallpox this, she said, colonization that. She was right, and the truth was everywhere around us, but, as I’ve gotten older, carrying around my resentment has become exhausting.

Her greatest pain was white women. “Take your time, white woman!” she’d shout when they’d cut in front of her (it happened a lot). “Go to hell!” she’d yell at the white women who followed her at the grocery, or any store, really. They were constantly ignoring my mother, insulting her, or giving her the wrong change. I saw firsthand how they looked us up-and-down every time we went clothes shopping. I wasn’t sure where that disgust came from until I became friends with a white girl.

My first sleep over was at my friend Leigh’s. She was blond. Her clothes weren’t covered in animal fur, like mine. She always had lunch, along with the teacher’s favor. Her house was immaculate. It had real curtains and white walls, unlike the tasteless 70’s wood paneling of my house on the rez. I was in awe of her place. I kept thinking, ‘Is this how white people live?’ I went home hating my dirty clothes and my thrift store shoes. I hated our rez dogs and the rez cat litter that lived in our broken down car. When Leigh came to my house for a sleep over one night, she took one look at my sheet curtains and called home. She looked downright fearful of my poverty. I had never been more ashamed, or felt more dirty.

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Terese Marie Mailhot: Resenting White Women Is Exhausting (Indian Country Today 7/27)

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