Cappuccino Soul

Cappuccino Soul

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The People are Hungry. The People are Cold.

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I've just finished reading Yellow Woman and a Beauty Spirit: Essays on Native American Life Today. It's an informative book of essays by Leslie Marmon Silko that explores such topics as the role of rocks and other natural elements in Native American culture. It also looks at Silko's encounters with the U.S. Border Patrol, the role of storytelling in Native American lives, among other topics.

Silko's book is a provocative and telling recount of the author's family experiences and her impressions of life in the Native American culture in New Mexico and Arizona.

Here's a paragraph from her book that made a strong impression on me:

I learned about racism firsthand when I started school. We were punished if we spoke the Laguna language once we crossed onto the school grounds. Every fall, all of us were lined up and herded like cattle to the girls' and boys' bathrooms, where our heads were drenched with smelly insecticide regardless of whether we had lice or not. We were vaccinated in both arms without regard to our individual immunization records.

And here's a poem that Silko features in the book. The poem is written inside a mural, referred to as the Stone Avenue Murual, that's painted at 930 North Stone Avenue in Tuscon, Arizona.

La gente tiene hambre. La gente tiene frío.
Los ricos han robado la tierra.
Los ricos han robado la libertad.
La gente exige justicia. De otra manera, Revolución.

The people are hungry. The people are cold.
The rich have stolen the land.
The rich have stolen freedom.
The people demand justice. Otherwise, Revolution.

(This really speaks to our situation today, doesn't it?)


Silko, born in Albuquerque, N.M., is a former professor of English and creative writing, and author of novels, short stories, essays, poetry, and screenplays. She has won prizes, fellowships and grants from such sources as the National Endowment for the Arts and The Boston Globe. She lives in Tucson, Arizona with her family.

1 comment:

Alicia Michele Benjamin said...

For some reason, the lines, "The People are Hungry. The People are Cold," not only make me think of all the people in the U.S. and the world who don't have enough to eat, nor spiritual food for their souls, it makes me think of a line from the film Hustle and Flow when Paula Jai Parker's character tells DJay (Terrence Howard), "We is hungry!"