Wednesday, September 26, 2007

American Apartheid?

Now that my Seattle Mariners are out of the race, I've begun to look at the other teams, whom I hope will kick Yankees butt!

And I've settled on the Red Sox.

The Red Sox have a rookie outfielder named Jacoby Ellsbury, who played during September when Manny Ramirez was out with an injury. Since I've got MLB.TV and watch the games on my computer, I've been able to see those games.

The first game with Ellsbury that I saw, just a week or so ago, the announcers of course mentioned his Navajo heritage, and that he was the first Indian of Navajo descent in the major leagues. So, without even knowing anything else about him, I automatically wanted him to do well.

Then I actually saw him play - the way he covers the field with abaondon, is willing to sacrifice his body (i.e. running over a few chairs) in order to catch a ball, etc. and I became a fan of his as a baseball player, as well.

And put together a biography and a newstracker page. You can find the biography here.

Jacoby Ellsbury bio

But in doing this research I found some troubling and depressing things.

Now, I'm from Minnesota which has a couple of Indian reservations, and money pours into those reservations from casinos... and apparently the only money-making thing that Indians can do on the worthless land that makes up these reservations is casinos. [why else were they moved to them in the 1800s, eh? You think if the land was good for anything they'd've been allowed to have it?] As the old joke was, "White folk took away the land, and now the Indians are getting it back a nickel at a time."

But I digress.

The point is Jacoby, who is only half Navajo - his mother married a white man - was brought up IN American society, not segregated away in a reservation. And that's why he's succeeding.

According to one article I read, Billy Mills calls reservations American apartheid - and indeed there is a book out, published in 1997, with that title ...about the white man's practice of segregating the Indian away from the whites. [Now there's issues there that I can think of...but I haven't read the book and I expect it's too depressing for me to want to read, but...]

But , for whatever reason the Indians were sent to reservations then, it's still going on today, and that's what's troubling. The Indian Nations are sovereign countries, and I'd have not word one to say about them if these reservations were prosperous [and the top people are, thanks to that casino money], their people well-educated and well-employed, with school drop-outs and alcoholism not a major problem.

But the opposite, unfortunately, seems to be the case. The average Native American, of any tribe, seems to be set up for failure from the get go... which is *not* the same as the blacks and latinos in ghettos and the barrios, because there the children grow up integrated into American society - and should they get a good education and a good job they could get out of those poor areas and into better ones with no "culture shock" except the one we all go through when we can live a life of luxury! But Indians are raised differently on reservations... they can't get out.

Okay, that's an observation from just a couple of days quick research, but that seems to be the case. Whether the fault lies within the Tribal Leadership, or the American government's propensity to turn thriving, active people into welfare recipients and then make sure they stay that way, I'm not sure.

But I hope Jacoby Ellsbury can be a standard bearer for all Native Americans - get an education, get a job you like and be happy, and be proud of your roots. And, while it's not necessary to "get off the reservation,".... lose the reservation mentality. Whatever the tragedies of the past, it's now the 21st century and time to move into the future and integrate with the rest of the country.

And moreso than that, he must be a standard bearer to Majority America - that when people are not held down by prejudice, either overt or covert, they can all reach the heights.

That's a lot to put on one man's shoulders. I hope he can do it. I hope they can do it.

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