I’ve worn disguises in shame of my own flesh and blood,
And masks while I laughed at jokes at my expense
Making me uncomfortable
in my own skin.
I’ve undressed myself of strength to fit in with the same society
Who taught me it was okay for others to use and abuse me—
Mentally, Emotionally and Physically—
to sexualize my body.
I was stripped of pride and mocked by “Indians” dancing around me
Until naked, crippled and breathless with only a fragment of spirit left
And nothing but burning flesh
to comfort me.
It was then, in my time of need, my ancestors came to me,
Reminding me of my dignity, dressing me in their resilience
And cloaking me in our traditions;
sharing supernatural gifts.
I wasn’t wearing shoes but I felt Mother Earth beneath my feet,
Just enough to stand my ground and wear my culture proudly.
The wind entered my lungs and I yelled,
my spirit talking loud:
I AM SO MUCH MORE THAN THIS
I DESERVE RESPECT AND JUSTICE
WHO I AM IS MY RESISTANCE
I AM NOT A COSTUME!