It’s important for Native youth to tell their stories because many Natives go through pain and troubles, and it fades away. It isn’t told. It’s buried. Like we read in Sherman Alexie’s book, it is like Indians are invisible. Before this program, I did not know of the Residential Schools in Canada. I did not know of the erasure of culture. But there are no shortage of hardships or poverty or families beaten down by alcohol abuse. And yet many people still use the culture as a costume. They take the good for themselves and bury the bad. They blame indigenous peoples for the hardships they are set up for. It needs to be told because when the difficulties of a people are buried beneath the surface no change can be made.
If i personally could have a story to be told, it would be about mental illness. I’d like to break the stereotypes about different mental illnesses, especially in a way that makes those who live life dealing with one more comfortable with their society and peers. And most importantly I would like mental illnesses to stop being used as an adjective. “She’s so skinny. She’s like anorexic!” “I get nervous when I’m on stage. I totally have anxiety.” I hear phrases like this often, and the worst part is that most people don’t see the problem with it. But I know what it was like to fight anorexia. It wasn’t my weight; it was the self hate, the dimorphism, the constant intense fear. When people act like depression is cool and trendy, when people stereotype in painful ways, it makes it more difficult for others to take those who actually suffer seriously. I want to break the stereotypes.
My favorite book is The Little Prince Prince by Antoine de Exupery. The book is fascinating in many ways. I love the illustrations throughout the story, but the most interesting thing is the different personalities. There is a separate kinds of sadness in each character that the Little Prince meets when he lands on a new planet. At each stop the formally naive Little Prince begins to realize that the world isn’t just raking out tiny volcanoes and taking care of his Rose. He sees the pain of the drunkard, the arrogance of the king, and the dedication of the lamplighter. And through the lesson of the fox, he realizes his Rose was special because it is his. He releases his body to return to his home.