The Politics of Humility
By Johnny Hawke
I never belonged with the “in-crowd” but have always tried my best to fit in and have always seemed to find myself breaking all the rules of conformity. So this is my rave and rant of the Politics of Humility.
When I was five years old I entered a race in my community’s fall fair. It was a race to see who the fastest runner in all age groups was. The distance wasn’t very far for my age group but I managed to find myself doing somersaults all the way to the finish line and win the race. I was disqualified because I didn’t run. I won the race in reality doing what I did but the judges who wanted to make the others in the group who followed the rules feel better disqualified me. This was the beginning of my relationship with humility and my experience with not running with the rest of the crowd.
In “Traditional” Circles
In adolescence I found myself looking for my Anishinabe Identity from people who helped to revive our culture back within my community. I found and even to this day I find a lot of ego, belittlement, and hypocrisy with the majority of these people who are preaching the good red road. I acknowledge the few who walk their talk though but the majority of walking ego’s make me walk away from this crowd.
I choose to drink off and on and am struggling to give it the final boot. I know alcohol contradicts who we are and brings out the worst in us. However these same people who preach our teachings make it known to me that in some way I am less an Anishinabe because I sometimes stagger down the good red road. Most times these people have walked in my moccasins but now are walking amongst the clouds and forget how it is to struggle.
I find that it is who has the most eagle feathers, who’s been to more ceremonies, who knows and who is related to who, who is in a lodge, who is a sundancer, peyote taker, sweatlodge maker, who is the best drum group, dancer, is what really matters than actually walking our teachings.
So today I practice my spirituality on my own because I can’t conform to a “lodge” or “spiritual elitism.” I think my alcoholism has actually helped me to remain humble and down to earth and spiritually connected in these youthful years of mine. Maybe one day I will become spiritually enlightened and join the club but today is not a good day to die.
In my HIGH school Daze
Trying to fit in with the “in crowd” because running alone can make you feel lonely at times I found myself in high school getting high down the trail and missing a lot of school. I was immersed within the “crew” and was in with the crowd until I couldn’t conform to their expectations and they sold me out.
Something happened where we got pinched and someone within our group ratted each other out for holding and the blame got put on the only “brown guy” within the circle. I got sold out by the “in crowd”
I was also being pushed out of the circle because I couldn’t conform because I didn’t have wheels; enough weed and couldn’t get in to bars. I couldn’t conform because I wasn’t a privileged rich white boy. I’d meet up again with the privileged white kids in other circles.
I eventually went back to running on my own and the last years of highschool I became the student with the highest grades in academic classes. The strictest elite teacher of our school featured and I hate to admit this, she featured me as an example of a well written academic student amongst her “preppy” stuck-up privileged white kids who always received good marks. She asked me to read my work to her other students from other classes.
At our graduation I was asked to sing an honor song with my hand drum. This was something rare where a First Nation student was invited to participate in Graduation Ceremony, so this was a big deal. My friend just because he was “First Nation” wanted to join in with me on the song. I accepted because he was my bro. However he didn’t know the song and he didn’t practice with me before hand and I felt he was just there for tokenism. He ruined the song because he didn’t know it and sung off beat and made up the stuff he didn’t know while I struggled trying to sing it without getting thrown off.
To me this was a big deal of my accomplishments. I was an academic, recognized and asked to participate in our graduation ceremony representing our culture. This honor song truly meant something to me to sing. To my bro it was just a chance to get up and be singled out in tokenism. To the other grads and their parents, teachers and staff, the song didn’t matter because it sounded “First Nations” authentic. The true spirit of that song wasn’t invoked but that didn’t matter. I had to suck it up and please everyone else. It had become a show off, no explanation of the song, just a show off of ethnicity.
I learned a lot in these years and still today struggle with understanding Humility and trying to please everyone to their expectations.
Are the Outcasts really the “In-Crowd”? Humility in Activism
Anishinabek never had Martyrdom or Messiahs. We had what anthropologists call “trickster” figures which gave us teachings on how not to be. We had great people but never made a religion to worship them.
Being immersed within my culture be it ceremonies, fishing, living off the land and fighting oppression standing up to injustice has always been within my community and family. It runs in my blood. Speaking up, fighting, having a big heart, being independent and a provider is a trait instilled in me from my dad and mom.
I have always been and continue to be passionate and active for the well being of people, rights, community and the earth. I have never called my self an activist, politician, or whatever but have been called many things and I’ll leave it up to people what they want to call me. The one thing I can call myself is Kai Kai Kons, Anishinabe, Maang Doodum and a Friend.
In my journeys these last few years I have been meeting and organizing within various circles and groups who are of like mind.
In the spirit of my teachings I enhance my learning through unity and am fascinated with all the “isms”, “ists”, “tions” that help to diversify this colonized rez boy’s mind.
I also find that these solidarity groups and other allies of like mind are very reminiscent of high school which accompanies itself with the same paranoia associated with smoking weed I did back in them high school days. I am starting to feel déjà vu all over again maaan. I find a lot of classism and ego within these circles as well.
These ally groups who confess of being the underdog and voice of the oppressed feel very much like the “in-crowd” of high school and the majority are the same privileged white kids I shared joints with back in the day.
I also find that there is a lot of work besides protesting that groups can be doing to help fight the fight. We rally about rights and pollution and destruction but in between occupations, marches and protests we still are plugged into the capitalist system and creating garbage. So this is where I become disillusioned with most groups who are just about labels, names and ego.
I defended myself from some racists and sat in jail for assault two months ago. I didn’t get any parade or rally nor did I expect one it is just a fact of life and many people like me experience this everyday and are not activists and don’t get the parade. We are not in the in-crowd.
I am not a professional activist as some portray themselves to be but I have always fought and will die if I have to for my people our rights and earth. I speak up against injustice and only speak the truth. I am not a criminal so I do not have to act like one or be paranoid. My parents never told me to shut up they encouraged me to have a voice, so I speak freely.
As Anishinabe we are not landless, or without Sovereignty, we are not Canadian. When I speak freely I feel that I am not compromising direct actions because as a Sovereign Nation we have every right to protect everything within our jurisdiction with out falling victim to paranoia.
At the same time I know the difference from compromising actions to ratting out and selling out as I was by the “white privileged in- crowd” many a times. I know what force the enemy has and I’m sure they know what force we have.
I was born with an identity number for my race, my phone is tapped, cops keep tabs on me but I don’t care for I only speak truth. They have always been doing this to my people who choose to live this kind of lifestyle.
Facebook has become a very useful tool within our “movements” which has united many. Recently a Revolution across the pond in a very harsh monitored oppressed atmosphere has happened.
The people in Egypt discussed very openly how, where, when and why to over throw the dictatorship of their government. Facebook helped to organize their Revolution. But at the same time Revolutions and unity has happened before Facebook as well.
We fight for our freedom and our many platforms where we can enjoy freedom of speech at every protest. So why do some give in to paranoia that we are being monitored? If you tell me to take off the bandanna on the frontlines then let me speak.
I have been warned here and there by some for sharing strategies on actions which occurs on illegally occupied Indigenous territories.
I admit within the past few winter months I myself have become quite the “facebook activist” and I have fallen victim to this craze in posting protest pics and thoughts to please my own ego. Even other people who are not activists this Facebook has created a lot of ego’s.
Like my Alcoholism I can’t drink here and there so eventually Johnny is gonna have to give up Facebook and the Booze all together. It is my addictive personality. Facebook is an addiction, for some it has become all about me, me, me and I am starting to go cold turkey.
When looking at some “activist” friends on Facebook these same people who warn me about being too open have tagged each other on protest pictures which they posted and announce their planned actions on an event pages and pose just the same as anyone else.
If we are being monitored and if it is a concern of some then maybe your activism should be left for offline as well.
I have found myself once again joining the in-crowd. I have been working with youth for the month of March which they helped me to remind myself of my 5 year old self. I once was against the computer and my 5 year old self has given me a good swift kick in the ass along with those who warn me that “their watching.” But I don’t really care if they be watching.
I will be returning to what I have always done. For the hip paranoid in-crowd activists I challenged you do to the same and live up to your own ideologies.
Some of us grassroots Indigenous brothers and sisters around these territories will be reviving traditional communication for more secure organizing. Thanks again for the reminder.
If I post anything further online it will be on my blog and will only be stuff that has already been shared or posted publicly by allies.
I am going to delete my “activist” friends and reserve my Facebook for Family and Friends Only and will not involve my work with Facebook for your security and safety.
This is Johnny Signing off…
Enjoy the Race I’m Disqualified