facebook protest!

MEDIA ALERT: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1LFYGJdMw2uOPiEBrQRcgu8JUprF4xlLKx5sCsPhVVI4/mobilebasic?pli=1

I hope to bring to you soon:

  1. A recap on the Cleveland baseball protest, once I’m able to consolidate my photos.
  2. A copy of an article I wrote regarding the Biloxi mascot issue and the resulting attack on Deloria Many Grey Horses.

But, as time is ticking, I am going to skip those two for now to go straight to an event that will be trending all across social media today:

#NotYourZuckerberg

#IndigenizeZuckerberg

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Today, you will see many of these as Facebook profile pictures.

My cover photo is this:

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Today these hashtags are being used on all forms of social media to draw attention to a lapse in Facebook’s name policy.  This policy, as it currently stands, has no protection for people with indigenous names – or really any name that isn’t “typical”, “normal”, or as many are arguing, “European”.  On the surface, this may seem like a trivial issue.  But all issues which may seem trivial on the surface tend to have roots in a much deeper issue.

Why are indigenous names being discriminated against?

Sure, names like “Many Grey Horses” might look suspicious to a computer…but don’t all names have similar translations in English?  My surname is of European origin, but in English my surname is “Of The Valley”.  Mario Lemieux, ironically, has the surname which, in English, means “The Best”.  Shumacher?  “Shoe Maker”.  I’m sure may indigenous names can be written in their indigenous languages as well.  But that’s beside the point…  The reality is, Facebook’s name tool often suggests that a name is fake.  I’ve had that issue trying to add my name in an indigenous language.  And we aren’t alone: our indigenous counterparts in the British Isles have faced similar discrimination which hit the press this year on the Scotsman.  (A man battled Facebook to allow him to use his Gaelic name.)

But what if your name is on Facebook and later you’re told it’s fake?  This happened to Deloria Many Grey Horses as part of a cyberattack.  Deloria was discovered by the Bilox Alumni on Facebook as having been the woman who started the petition against their school’s desecration of the sacred war bonnet and use of the “Biloxi Indian” mascot.  She was targeted by Krissi West (BHS 2005), who proudly posted on the Alumni page that she had “reported her for hate speech”.  Deloria was also reported more than once for having a fake name.  After providing all of the proper credentials, she was brought back to Facebook only to be (reported again and) banned permanently.  Fortunately, we were able to get her back and going strong in a matter of hours, but this new tactic of users to silence Natives by using Facebook’s current policy as a tool really added fuel to the already-growing fire of why many of us are being targeted.

So why are indigenous names being targeted?

On the surface, sometimes because of a computer’s algorithm that flags it.  But, more and more often, this is happening because users are trying to shut up Natives who use social media to be heard.  Yes, social media is changing the face of how we share information, providing a platform for many once-silenced voices in corners like the Reservation or hidden in urban settings to be able to voice their opinions.  And those opinions spread like wildfire.  But Facebook’s policy is currently allowing trolls, essentially, to remove the Native voice from social media.

Even after we follow the policy and provide all the information needed.

This is why we are using the hashtag #IndigenizeZuckerberg.  We need him and his coworkers at Facebook to address the importance social media platforms, like Facebook, have in Indian Country.  We need him to recognize that the current policy needs to be reviewed.  We need him to develop a better system to keep activists like Deloria, who are fighting for equality and not “trolling” anyone else, from being shut down through loopholes in the policy.

It’s not just a matter of letting people be who they truly are on social media – by their true names and sharing true information – but it’s a plea to stop silencing indigenous voices…not just in the United States…not just in Canada…but really, all around the world.

We are indigenous, and we are a part of the modern world.  We are not dead.  We are not dumb.  We have capitalized on useful tools of the colonized world, and we consider Facebook one of these tools.  Stop silencing the voices of these people.  Stop asking for their government-issued documents to prove who they are, then allowing this process to happen again and again.

If you are on Facebook, join us.  In a matter of minutes, we will be changing our last names to Zuckerberg, changing our profile pictures to one of these #IndigenizeZuckerberg images, and posting hashtags to share the information as much as possible.  Be advised that current policy may result in you being a Zuckerberg for 60 days.

Facebook Event Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/1555205128076480/

If you are on Tumblr, WordPress, Blogspot, Instagram, Twitter, and of these other platforms, help us spread the word using the hashtag, these images, these words, and help to bring awareness so we can all have an equal experience in the social media outlets.

Other images:

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Manipulating the “like” hand:

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Niyaawe!

Thank you!

worth.

I have volunteered on projects my whole life, whether it’s a cleanup, fundraising, habitat for humanity, or construction work with Engineers Without Borders. I’ve slowly come to realize, as I’ve said before, how much money might have value, but time has something more. Not only is personal involvement more, well, personal, but it has an unmeasurable amount of worth to those affected.

How do you measure the worth of something? Well, it’s all relative.

When I was standing in a dusty yard in a small Cameroonian village watching children kick a torn soccer ball and I pulled little Belinda aside to give her a slightly used pair of lady’s shoes, no dollar sign could represent the emotion she had for the shoes. She literally grabbed my arms in shock, timidly put a shoe to her foot – a perfect fit –
then flat out collapsed in my arms and tucked her legs into the air. There I was, standing against a wall, holding a dangling child by my forearms who was so humbled by a simple gift that she buried her face in my stomach and couldn’t even look me in the eye. Then she grabbed the bag and ran home to her hut faster than an American child to an ice cream truck on a hot summer day.

How do you measure that?
Shoes, $50.
Visa, $140.
Plane ticket, $1,864.

Or…
Time spent in Cameroon, 3 weeks.
Time spent on project, thousands of hours.
The look on her face, UNMEASURABLE.

When I paid twice the price for a loaf of bread in Ouidah, Benin, the grandmother who couldn’t even speak French communicated by the happy tears in her eyes and her clasped hands. For an extra 200 francs. Or 40 cents.

Playing games with the children in the village last year…and then returning over a year later to the same children, slightly taller, wearing the same clothes (just more tattered), screaming my name and dancing the dances I taught them. Priceless. Their joy, for nothing, with so much worth.

Even better than the feeling of feeding the poor and sitting with them on Thanksgiving is taking a tag off of the Salvation Army tree, putting serious effort in picking the best gifts for the anonymous wishes, then dropping the bag off. You don’t know where it goes, they’ll never know who you are, and that secrecy feels so selfless that it’s selfish. And worth a LOT.

But even more simply, sitting here on a worksite, on a cold Sunday morning, covered in mud, one has a new appreciation for the DuPont suits given to the workers. They work so hard and so long, harder than I, and they are overwhelmingly appreciative when I give out company stickers for their hard hats. Because they earned it. Because it’s their badge of honor. But it’s just a silly sticker that I have complained about so often, one that is such an awkward shape that it doesn’t stick smoothly to the plastic. But things mean so much more when you’re a dedicated immigrant, happy to have a job and to live in America.

Finally, myself.

This is the kicker, my self-worth. How I measure myself. Well, how I have beenmeasuring my worth and not even realizing it.

Social media. How many likes I get. And it’s not just me! So many friends I talk to agree, we evaluate ourselves by the feedback we get when we put ourselves out there on social media.

I post something I love. I get little to no likes. On Facebook. On Instagram. Retweets or favorites on Twitter. Views on this blog.

My worth becomes the quantity of likes I receive. The quality? Some of these people I don’t even know…yet I still do it…

I compare myself.
He has more likes. She ALWAYS gets likes. What does that mean?? Do I have less friends? Am I not as interesting or popular or loved?? What does it mean???

It shouldn’t mean anything, but I have to admit that it means everything. Whether I want it to or not. And I hate it.

But at the same time, when I put something out there that I think is meaningless or controversial…. And people take my side – that is so incredibly empowering.

I guess we just need to get a grip on what something is worth, lest we continue to harm ourselves or under-appreciate things that could be a total game changer to someone else.

When Life Gives You Eggs…

This was taken from my recent draft submittal for my satirical column in The Athenian.

pizza

Valentine’s Day seems to render two distinctly different emotions: excitement or dread.  If you’ve got someone and you’re anxious for whatever surprises you’ll get or give, then you’re probably bubbling with excitement for the one day of the year that you might actually feel special.  (But, god forbid, if someone were to forget the date…)  Maybe the pressure to make the day special is too much for you and you’re contemplating breaking up with the other person on the 13th, then asking them back out the 15th.  I mean, why spend the money?

Ah, but maybe you have no one.  And here you are, trapped alone in the United States on this dreadful day full of sickeningly red, pink, and white hearts, flowers, cards, disgustingly sweet boxes of chocolates, fat cherubs, arrows, advertisements, heart-shaped pizzas, busy restaurants, and a take-out menu looming in the corner on your refrigerator.  Maybe you had someone and you thought it was going to last until this day.  Maybe you never had anyone and don’t know what it feels like to celebrate.  Well, not everyone has a Valentine’s Day full of chocolates, roses, and cheesy gifts.  I mean, do you really think all those men in countries where they take dozens of wives are really going to care about some fruitcake holiday?  Does anyone even know why it came to be or is it just another Hallmark event?

First, let me present to you a taste of global Valentine’s Day experiences: If people celebrate this day at all, they do it in even crazier, stranger ways than the States.  People in Wales don’t even honor Saint Valentine; they have their own patron of love.  In France, a ban by the government had to be put on the old tradition of walking across the street and matching up with random singles because the rejected women got too rowdy burning photos and other memorabilia of the men who rejected them.  In Denmark and Norway, men send out rhymes to women with their names signed as a series of dots instead of letters.  If the women can’t guess who it is, they owe him an egg at Easter.  If they guess it, he owes her an egg.  Gotta love them eggs.

The Asian cultures, though, many of them are crazy.  In Japan, it’s said that it’s the woman’s job to surprise the man – the one time of the year that it’s acceptable for affection to be displayed between them.  They give out different “levels” of chocolate, like “obligatory” chocolates that basically say “Here ya go, but I don’t particularly want to give you this”.  But what really gets me is those South Koreans.  They have completely taken the 14th of February to a new level.  Not only do they make traditions between couples, but also get-togethers with singles at restaurants where they eat black noodles in groups.  They have made an event day for EVERY SINGLE 14TH DAY OF EACH MONTH.  So Black Day, White Day, Kiss Day, Rose Day, Hug Day,… Talk about stressful; I’d just accept a heart-shaped pizza to myself and stay in the States.

But maybe that doesn’t make you feel any better, knowing how loony the world is.  Maybe you’re still lonely and you want to feel better.  Well, my friend, I have a great strategy: Go make your life awesome.  I’ll tell you how.  So let’s say you’re a college-aged girl and there’s this guy in your Calculus class that you just love SO much because he’s actually somewhat good-looking (for Case) and he totally can do all of your homework for you.  Well, because he goes to Case, I can guarantee he is well-connected to the Internet.  This is your window of opportunity, you just need to know how to use it.  The plan is to make yourself desirable to him and get him to ask you out on a V-Day (or Belated V-Day) date.

First, stalk him.  Check out all of his likes on Facebook and like them as well.  Scan through all of his photos to see what he does.  Check out his best friends.  Maybe follow them around some and watch what they do and monitor what they like to talk about.  Don’t forget Twitter, either.  Get SMS notifications sent to your phone when he tweets and pray there’s geo-locations attached.  If not, see if he has Instagram or watch when he uploads photos – they all have geo-tags now.  Make a Pinterest board of all the things you’re going to have to like now in order for him to like you and make another one for all of the things you need to forget to like that he doesn’t seem to like.  Watch all of the movies he likes, read the books he has read, and play the video games he plays.

Second, make yourself desirable.  Go on Facebook and make an account for a fake friend.  Add a bunch of hot people as his friends, but only guys.  Make sure it says on his status that he is single.  Upload a bunch of photos, mostly of ones you’re Photoshopped in with him having a crazy-awesome time.  Post on each other’s walls and share links to things that you think the guy you like might find interesting.  Have your friend comment on your posts with stuff like “oh, that’s dumb” and then retort with “Well, that’s why we’re not dating!  We just don’t like the same things.”  Make sure your crush sees your posts and clutter his feed.

If this doesn’t work, then hell…Just add your fake friend as your boyfriend and Photoshop pictures of you guys eating tubs of ice cream, heart-shaped pizzas, and boxes of chocolates together while cuddling with your cats and watching The Notebook.  I mean, whatever.  At least you’re not getting (or giving) an egg in a month.