Friday, 12 August 2011

cultural safety

I took these pics on Alastair's blackberry, at Te Puia in Rotorua,
attracted as I always am to images of big people taking good care of the little ones. 

Ever the pragmatist, this is my internal image of deity: 
I take care of my little ones, and deity stands in relation to me 
as I stand in relation to them:

protector & caregiver.

Somehow in the topsy-turvey of my growing up years, I came to locate my sense of safety with my father-- who was quite violent and cruel at various stages of our lives together-- 
rather than with my mother, who left me in the family home when i was ten years old. 
She picked up again five years later, but the basic 
visceral message was already laid in.

Feminism helped to understand and heal some of those issues that lie between,
but much is overlooked through the lens of feminism:
especially western feminism-- feminism carries a part of the truth,
& not the whole truth.

I know for sure all evil does not reside in the men, neither the elders nor the children nor the men who stand and walk between those two generations: 

I know for sure that woman is a power unto herself, and no one is doing anybody favours by distorting the truth of it.

I know for sure that humans harm humans, and that nonetheless we must rely upon one another:
the way out of our isolation is not more mistrust.
Learning to stand my ground, and defend my territory, 
to be open to "my group" (women) and develop a more nuanced way 
to relate to all
--women, children, men-- 
is a lifelong journey. 

Giving birth in an undrugged-state 
on my own ground/in my own territory
was,  for me, a core step in this learning process:

some things, I found, I cannot run away from,
because i carry them within.


I really enjoyed our visit to Te Puia, with it's National Schools,
in part because it reminded me of the
Traditional Mothers program,
once housed on the corner of Broadway and Kingsway in Vancouver. 

A secular place to learn traditional cultural practises, the school in Rotorua self-described, 
and that is such a necessary space for the multi-racial and the dispossessed: 

where can i go? 
Here, you can come to us....

One day I was sitting at a bus stop, across the street from the IHA offices, 
when a young African man came by and looked at me with a look of high humour, 
pure joy bursting across his face.

I was nursing my then-youngest son, Isidore, 
and that it turned out is what he was so damned pleased to see.
Never in my life before now, he said, did i see a white lady doing that.

At first I grumbled, "I'm not a white lady," but he didn't hear.
His pleasure was a pleasure to see, and so I finally decided that 
as a mixed-blood person,
my patience was needed.

There is more good to be done in the world, I thought, that this young man learn
 that white peoples are human too,
and so for the sake of the lesson,
i set my ego aside.


This image I zoomed in on, because I am a woman, and I like to see myself reflected back from the world around me. Then I turned and snapped a picture of Alastair,
fellow traveller.

Toi Māori Aotearoa: Māori Arts New Zealand ~ online forum for Maori arts

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