Do We Adapt to Injustice From Lack of Awareness?

adaptMay We Never Adapt to Injustice

The name Trayvon Martin brings an instant image of a young man looking out from the hood of his sweatshirt with soulful eyes. We know the facts—a young black man walks through an ethnically diverse neighborhood when a vigilante half-Hispanic man shoots and kills him during an ‘altercation.’ Twenty years ago, the incident might not have garnered public attention. Due to social media and the Black Lives Matter movement, we have learned to adapt our perspective and take action when we see injustice.

But have you heard of Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind? A white woman lured the 22-year-old pregnant Native woman into her apartment and murdered her so she could kidnap Savanna’s unborn baby. Savannah lived with her parents and brother in a basement apartment in the same building as her murderer. Her parents suspected the 38-year-old woman in the third-floor apartment but feel that the police didn’t take their suspicions seriously.

Two young Native children now live with relatives. Their mother disappeared over a year ago. No one knows what happened, and the police don’t seem to care. Two little ones now face life alone. Children shouldn’t grow up no knowing what happened to their mommy.

Just thirty miles away, a Winslow, AZ police officer shot and killed 27-year-old Loreal Tsingine, a Native woman with a history of mental illness. Her crime? Resisting arrest and walking towards the officer with a pair of scissors pointed at the ground.

Native Injustice

Learn more about the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women. #MMIW #MMIWG #NationalDayofAwareness #LivesMatterAll four instances reek of injustice, prejudice, and misunderstanding. Only one of the incidents received widespread national and international attention. Let me assure you that I believe that ALL lives matter. But I do want you to understand what Native women and girls face. If you do, perhaps you’ll adapt your actions in ways that bring attention to an under-represented sector of our population.

But as a white woman with education, I face little statistical chance of encountering violence at the hands of anyone—whether law enforcement, family member, or stranger. If I do experience violence, I have a high probability of finding justice through the legal system. Roughly 35% of the general population of women in the United States experiences some form of violence. Two percent of the general population of women will experience sexual violence.

Eighty-four percent of Native women, on the other hand, experience violence. Fifty-six percent of Native women will experience sexual violence—studies show that the majority of perpetrators are white males.

The justice system on reservations has serious flaws. US Attorneys declined to prosecute nearly 52% of all crimes that occur on reservations. And of those crimes they declined to prosecute, 67% of them involved violence against women.

I work at a school for Native Americans. Unfortunately, the statistics bear themselves out, even for Native girls and young women. Let that sink in for a moment.

What Can You Do?

Good question!

Four ways to raise awareness of the plight of Missing and Murdered Native Women. #NationalDayofAwareness #MMIW #MMIWG #fmfparty Click To Tweet

Raise awareness. Share this post. Research the names of the two Native women mentioned in the post and share what you find on social media. Use the hashtag #MMIW and #MMIWG (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Girls) and #NationalDayofAwareness.

Wear red on Saturday, May 5—a day set aside by Congress to raise awareness for missing and murdered native women and girls. Flood social media with the hashtags and selfies of you wearing red.

Shock some people with statistics—what we don’t know CAN hurt us. It can make us indifferent when we have no awareness.

Pray for further guidance. I don’t have all the answers. But I can tell you what I will do. I work with Native youth, so I have the opportunity love them more deeply, mentor them when appropriate, and pray for them by name.

Whatever you do, do something. Don’t adapt to injustice or indifference.

Resources:

Missing Native Women

Loreal Tsingine Case

Natives Shot by Police

Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind Case

23 Comments

  1. I love when you go here friend. Of course, I know Savannah’s story since it happened here in North Dakota. Our justice does have flaws. I’m in the 52 spot this week.

  2. I really appreciate your post, Anita. It is SO easy to become desensitized. Thank you for challenging us NOT to adapt, but to always see these instances as wrong and unjust. It doesn’t have to be this way.

  3. Thank you for raising your voice here. We cannot say we are followers of Christ and yet not be pursuing abundant life for ALL. That means hearing about the things that are broken in need of restoration-by us. Thanks for sharing the stories of those you encounter regularly that the rest of us do not know about.

  4. Anita, thanks for sharing this with us and making us aware of the intensity of the problem. Blessings to you and thanks for linking up at the #LMMLinkup!

  5. Thank you enlightening me on the subject of aboriginal problems across the border of Canada.

    Government of Canada have actually apologized for the injustice done on the aborigines here during the residential school atrocities. There is great understanding now here in Canada on the aborigines and i believe there is less discrimination because my children school here in Canada studies about them in history class.
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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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