It has come to my attention that my words have caused a flurry of confusion, anger, criticism and gossip regarding the thoughts and feelings I have shared about the UCTP and the behavior of its president, Roberto Borrero.
Of course, I was not included in the emailed gossip and criticism of my person, which goes to show how “constructive” these rumors truly are. Regardless, I extend the invitation to all my dear brothers and dear sisters, uncles and aunties, elders; don’t be afraid to write to me directly! You have a concern, bring it to me and let’s communicate. If you want to make it a public discussion, by all means, we can do that, too. In the end, we can agree to disagree and let it go at that, but to growl and grumble about me to others, speaks nothing of my person and volumes of who you are as a human being. I would pray you do not dishonor yourself that way.
I hold no grudges, not against “las malas lenguas” nor against Borrero, personally. We are all suffering from the same things: historical grief, intergenerational trauma and the effects of the forced integration of a mindset and worldview that is alien to our spirits. We are damaged and so we are angry, and in this anger we lash out to anyone who offers us a target- including those who bring their truth about that which hurts- especially if that truth is not yet recognized. Yet, still, I remain open to both Borrero and the loose tongues, still willing to forge ahead together- if they are. If I have enough compassion to help an injured creature on the side of the road why would I not have it for my Taino relations who are also hurting?
Leonard Peltier said: “…speaking out is my first duty, my first obligation to myself and my people. To speak your mind and heart is Indian way”. Those are words I live by. If I witness disrespect, I will speak up. If I see injustice, I won’t be silent. My heart is open to my people and I refuse to shackle my thoughts and muzzle my words to protect anyone’s false pride and self-importance.
Personally, I have had enough. I have been lied to enough by leaders who use self-determining vocabulary and double-speak to create false dilemmas and force me to choose between what they believe are the “only right choices”, all the while telling me they are defending my indigenous right to choose. I have had enough of being coerced into accepting the point of view of a leader and shut up about my own. I have had enough of organizational misrepresentation, disrespect and forced assimilation to what our leaders believe to be the “best” thing for us. Good intentions are not enough. Is this not how we lost our language? Is this not how we lost our traditional social values? Is this not how we lost our spiritual beliefs, our culture? The conquerors thought they were giving us the right civilization, the one true God and the correct way to live. They were doing their best for us, killing the Indian and saving the man. They, too, had the best of intentions. And, as an interesting aside, I believe those were also Dickie Wilson’s last words.
Now we have our own leaders destroying the person to save the Indian! Have we become so accustomed to the master’s whip that we defend those who would pick it up, give it a polish and wield it against our own again? Haven’t we had enough abuse already? Or do we continue to silence the spirit of Hatuey that bubbles up within those who dare stand up and speak the truth on behalf of the Taino people? Do we behave as the conquerors did (and still do) and forget our very humanity?
My words were disapproving, yes, and they were critical, too. They were meant to be. They were also true. Borrero owes me nothing personally, but as an International representative of the Taino People, as the Voice of the Taino People in the United Nations, and thus the world, he has chosen some big moccasins to walk in. I demand he be respectful of the very people he pretends to represent. I demand he keep in mind that his position is that of a servant of the people, not a judge and definitely not a commander.
And to make another thing clear, this is not a personal vendetta against Borrero for banning me from his little online club. I have a blog I share my opinions on, one he visits on occasion; so his banning was more along the lines of a power trip. But it is not one I’m angry at him for, since he can only give what he has. What I am is disappointed. That tower he sells as a nation builder, that beacon of light made to call Tainos together from all over the diaspora, the UCTP, is nothing but smoke and mirrors, a farce. It could be so much more, it’s presented as so much more, it was sold to me as so much more- but it is not. From a distance, what seemed to be an impressive tower proved to be nothing but a cardboard box with a cute little sticker on the side, and my very own UCTP enrollment card.
Beyond the blips and sound bytes of the computer, I am a human being. A human being who also happens to be a Taino Indian woman; one who was raised knowing the responsibilities and obligations that my gender and my humanity demand of me. I will not be silenced. It is time the People remembered what their responsibilities require of them, each and every one of us; particularly those people in positions of leadership. It’s not all chest-beating and feathers, golden necklaces and taking on ancient names. Our leaders need to learn to listen to the needs of the people they have chosen to serve and respond with something more honorable than criticism and empty threats of litigation. What you do is who you are… not the description you give of yourself in newsletters.
I pray that the UCTP, and its president, live up to their potential someday. I pray the same for my Taino people.
(c) A. Nanu Pagan, April 2010