May you start and end mindfully. A reminder this is heavy work tied to generational trauma, if emotions arise for you stop and address them. Continue again intentionally when you are ready! Thanks for taking this on.
Prayer: May we remember who we are and go boldly.
From direct requests from our community we enter our 10th year of service and programming. We are a BY US, FOR US People Of Heritage focused grassroots organization. We also refer to ourselves with terms like People Of Colour, People Of Culture, and the Global Majority.
Long before this virus there was racism- a global pandemic.
Over this decade, I, kuwa jasiri Indomela, have stewarded this organization while houseless and experiencing housing insecurity. Much of our work was supporting those in Nucchu Territory, “Durango, Colorado” and on the Dine’ Reservation. Due to my own negative experiences in “Durango” I have since relocated much of our solidarity network temporarily to Arapaho Territory, “Boulder” although we still have a vibrant connection to programming in Nucchu Territory.
“My Ancestry has been waiting for someone with my strength to carry their name.” – Bola Juju
“Durango” is a rural mountain town where we occupy 13.16% of the residency while 20% of us live below the poverty line while our white neighbours average 95,000$ in net worth. In general, national hate crimes are on the decline but increased 16% in 2018 in “Colorado”; this may be tribute to the regional Klu Klux Klan headquarters in “Bayfield” that is still very active and sends recruits to Fort Lewis College in “Durango” where the suicide rate is 3 times the national average corresponding with inflated rates of mental illness and depression. We have about twenty public People Of Heritage focused organizations although few focus solely on health equity – like we do- they usually pop-up and fade out due to lack of centralized efforts or are college campus based and geared towards students who tend to leave the community.
Upon request we are adding a feature to this newsletter a truth reporting platform to amplify the narratives of our community. For you and other folks in the community that want to share your story and receive validation in a way that centers autonomy and safety.
In general, accountability is important to us along with transparency, so we want to be upfront about what we have in place to hold harmful people and establishments accountable. In general we offer mediation for restorative justice processes along with truth reporting, filing complaints, advocates trained in harm reduction, and a suicide crisis hotline.
“If you are seeking comfort you will not find truth, if you are seeking truth you will find comfort.” -Unknown
For the past 6 years many families we support, in particular those demanding respect, experience recurring instances of racism, sexism, genderphobia, classism and silencing where restorative justice circles were dismissed or used to further systems of power. Writing and reporting their stories here is a way to outlet the truth. Truth puts these families in greater risk of harm and harassment from the white gaze, so private details like names of people and places are kept, just that, private.
To advocate for others I had to face my own trauma. My lowest moment in this town was when I was making Art Modeling my career. I proposed two galleries show works of my genderqueer brown body. The truth is both venues canceled their showings of me two days before opening night after two months of planning. I still carry that rejection – truly so may my children – from a town I wanted to grow old in. I have since moved physically out of that area to focus on myself and receiving validation. I stay rooted in the social network I nurtured while a resident.
We value supporting people directly, in inspiring ways that allow them to shine authentically. This Incidents Report in a labour of love, passion, hope, and truth.
Privilege is rampant, worse yet unchecked privilege. Which has been fueling a campaign designed to demonize houseless folks such as the Sit Lie Act which prevents folks from lingering in public spaces.
Many folks we support are parents that have to navigate the 9-R School District so their youth can receive a free education. This district is known for using restorative justice processes to assert their power and disproportionately suspend young men of color.
“Durango” claims to be a sanctuary town for immigrants even though Immigration and Customs Enforcement has an office, holding cells and targets folks at their homes and jobs.
Durango Natural Foods Cooperative, decided to do nothing, after several reports of harassment and a direct request to deny service to abusive white males. Although the Deli has agreed to stop serving these problematic members of the community.
Trauma becomes ailments in our bodies. Health care and mental health professionals tell us to “develop a better skill set for people who are harming your life”. A clear indicator that they think we are the problem instead of the folks causing harm.
“dear friend, [when] you are feeling angry or hopeless try to remember why we are here. Take a break, breathe and we will hold your spot. We will persist together. We are here. And we are not leaving. Remember that keeping your heart soft is a radical form of resistance and even more powerful, persistence. -Liana Rios
At government assisted apartment complexes, there are neighbors (white men), who say “stay in your lane”, “watch your body” or else, “nigger”. The apartment staff continues to ignore ongoing reports of abusive neighbors by several tenants for the past 10 years.
The Southwest Center for Independence specializes in disability justice although has over the years failed to support their clients of heritage sustain housing and employment.
This disrespectful behavior continues when threats escalate and the local Police Department is called. They are always a last resort for few instances, like robbery, physical threats, breaking and entering. The cops respond with “what do you want me to do” and “we do not like being called for domestic abuse”. We have many reports of law enforcement officers racially profiling, refusing to open cases, failing to investigate facts, inaccurately recording details and an increase of undercover cars.
The Herald, a local newspaper, routinely omits the narratives of our community of culture instead centering only whiteness.
Across the board, people, spaces, organizations, and institutions fail to report incidents, follow through with reports, or center marginalized folks, and too often side with abusers, systemic oppression and the status quo. More often the outspoken folks of culture and houseless folks are the ones that receive this extremely negative treatment.
Access Health Crisis hotline has men responding to emergencies involving toxic masculinity and takes over 50 minutes to respond to callers. To use this free health care it takes 3 attempts to schedule appointments.
Where is the integrity “Durango”? If you thought differently we want to ensure you know “Durango” is NOT safe for the global majority. There is however a group of folks making space for us and continuing to warrior for truth. We are fatigued and are demanding Allies to help us.
We know the all so real generational treatment of our peoples. A trauma of physical harm without repercussions, accountability nor justice.
Being offered these exclamations “Bitch, Psycho, Cunt, Nigger” while parents hold hands with their children around the neighbourhood. A reminder hatred is taught by example.
*We ask that you pray for these members of our community.
As much as ever this report shows why the need for our BY US, FOR US model is so necessary and truly one of the few resources with follow through.
This archive of truth is an opening for pale (white) folks to join our Ally team, offer resources as reparations and donate to our efforts.
Heart Meditation By: Detox Your Heart
Thank you for valuing People Of Heritage and the work we do to keep our community in wellness. Donations are matched dollar for dollar and go towards cultural revitalization and spiritual tending.