On the bus (4)

January 26, 2007

There were two Native Americans, a man and woman, probably in their early 30s, but I’m not sure exactly how old they were.  They were wearing black and gray clothes, and they were unkempt.  The woman was overweight, and the man had a pitmarked face, dark sunglasses, and was skinny.  They were sitting very close to each other sharing ear-buds from their Walkman.  He was whispering in her ear and kissing her ample cheek.  She was talking in a loud voice, responding without shame to whatever he was saying.  

They were talking about their parents and elderly relatives.  His mother, it seems, is in a white-funded Seniors program, probably on the reservation.  She said, “Those old people are lucky.  They got to go to Hawaii.  They do all kinds of stuff.”  He replied, “Yeah.  She went to Alaska, too.”  

Then she said this:  “First, they killed them.  Now they are over-killing them!  They deserve whatever they get from them.  Those white people tried to take away their language, put them in f***ing boarding schools, and all that sh*t.  They didn’t talk about ‘urban Indians’ back then.  They deserve whatever they can get.” 

She said this loud, and because of where I was sitting, she said it right at me, one of two white people on the bus.  It was a moment in which it was impossible, at least for me, not to be hyper-aware of race.  


5 Responses to “On the bus (4)”

  1. Dave Bonta Says:

    This is turning into a very interesting series of sketches, Brett. Keep it up!

  2. sheepdays Says:

    Thanks for the encouragement, Dave. I found out recently that my grandma likes these “On the bus” posts, and that’s a good reason to keep them going, too.

  3. adan Says:

    B, I can picture them sharing the headphones. It sounds romantic uf it were on mute. I was at the Social Security Offices last week. I was the only one that was not African American. A White woman walked in and I guess she had an appointment because she walked into a back office. The African Americans made some remarks about white privilege and looked at me. I thought “damn, I’m Latino, what’s up with that.” Keep noticing and writing and letting us into your world…

  4. Liz Says:

    I never would have imagined when I started teaching 37 years ago in a district which was predominatly minority students, that things would have chnaged so much, yet changed so little. I do have hope though. Truly, things are getting better, but the path is rocky, but there is a path.

  5. Kryna Says:

    Brett, I love the bus stories as well. I haven’t been checking the blogs while Mom and Dad were here, but I am back now! 🙂 Great stuff.

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