What is my vision for a just, sustainable, anti-racist future for Kentucky? What does the experience of transition look, sound, feel, smell. taste like? Who, how, why?
On reading that question, my first response was to “fall back” on my love of language, on my poetry. And my repeated answer is this:
Such freedom tastes like wild honey – of the air that lifted the pollen as it was collected, the whir of wings, the enthusiasm of bees in their search, exuberance when one returns. And the sources of such a buffet – clover, sage, lavender, blackberries, even dandelions! So colorful and tangible.
“The experience of transition” – well, I would say it is truly a varied expression, subtle, slow, in-our-faces, stubborn, incremental, astounding all at the same moment. Do we see it happening? Will it be progressive as a desert flood, or halting with certain setbacks that will discourage but not deter? Again, likely, “yes!” to all that. The biggest issue is the last, namely that events will not halt the attainment of equality. I actually turned to the Cambridge English Dictionary for a specific definition, just to narrow my focus. Equality is “the right of different groups of people to have a similar social position and receive the same treatment.”
In both my poetry and art I have explored this theme and another whimsical “fantasy.” What if we were literally all blind – that skin tones were absent from view? If people were actually evaluated, as our wont, based on how they sounded, how they acted toward each other? Or, in another planetary world, we all were gifted with the most diverse, fantastic collection of varied surface patterns of stripes, dots, plaids, ombre layers? Each more exotic than the next? Wouldn’t that be challenging, startling and fun?
But, back to reality, right now. The work is around and ahead of us – to steadily move toward a balanced society of equality here. I believe fundamentally it must start with communication. With a patience, respectful space for talking, for listening without interruption, without “tuning out” when someone with a very different set of values speaks. We have to open our ears, and maybe our hearts – slowly, cautiously – in these moments. I have found the truth of considering one’s actions more telling than one’s words to still hold. We must therefor follow through. We cannot simply nod, feel proud and “advanced” if we then fall back into mistreatment of others, however innocuous it seems. We must consider our words and our actions. As an elder/person of both First Nations and European heritage and appearance, I find my reactions are often conflicted. I am still on the path of learning. I would like to believe we can all say that, with kindness towards each other as well.
I truly look forward to such small gatherings happening under the aegis of KFTC!
To add one final note, I would like to touch on the question of relationship to the environment if/when free from white supremacy’s scarcity. That reminds me of a phrase that came to me many years ago at a Native Writers Circle of the Americas conference. The common phrase I was hearing from so many Indigenous people was “dominant society” when speaking of “white” cultures. I objected and suggested instead, “pre-dominant society,” to emphasize the numerical rather than the subjective sense that one is “dominated over.” This still works for me – it is a matter of empowerment and awareness of the significance of language, however subtle.
So, to the environment. Again, a fantasy of balance, of nurture and respect (so simple, so difficult) for the very earth that provides us with all our nourishment and sustenance. I was taught early on that for my Abenaki People, when we hunted in our traditional ancestral territory (Vermont, Quebec), we left one quarter section alone – that the other three-quarters would suffice, that the dormant area would then have a full span of time to replenish. It was understood we do not over-take, plunder mindlessly, without thought to our future needs. Voices rise, cry out for such an approach, but it is difficult for them to be heard over the thunder of coins and dollars pyramiding in corporate offices. Even with evidence of immutable and devastating changes. The immediate seems to always win over the vague “future.” If I had the answer, the easy, undeniable one, I could halt this disaster. But I have my dreams and visions. Perhaps, enough young people will have those same visions and effect things on a wider scale. I can only do my very small part, despite physical limitations I have. Perhaps my words and art can speak, can touch. Such would be a gratification that extends far and wide, to know our generous earth Mother can be valued and cherished.
Aho. I have spoken.
From a young age, Brigit Truex has been interested in artwork, beginning with drawing on a chalkboard in her room. Studio classes in oils and pastels followed during her school years, but after that, there was a lengthy hiatus. On moving to Lexington from California, she resumed her interest once more, beginning with such diverse media as china painting and ceramics. It was just before the current epidemic struck, that she enthusiastically delved into acrylics. Two of her early paintings, “Circle Sisters” and “Dawnland,” were both accepted into the KY Arts Council’s “Native Reflections” exhibit, which is still touring the state through the end of 2021. Another picture was included in the Fusion Gallery West exhibit and two more paintings are included in the “Just Imagine” program, May 19 online, sponsored by Kentuckians For The Commonwealth.
Future events include the Living Arts and Science Center’s Pop-Up Show (May 10 – July 30) and Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, which is presenting a Native American festival (online and via Face Book, May 14 -16). Her art will be featured all three days as she shares her art, poetry and prose.