Reflections from the Ah­nish­i­nah­bæójib­way (We, the People)

November 30, 1988

Housing vote typical of system

To the Editor:

The racist class system strikes again in Bemidji.  The City Council has made decisions “for” the poor people.  The don’t want housing for poor people in Bemidji, although this housing is sorely needed.

As we look at the structure of the dominant society, the infrastructure of the towns that you build, there is always a rich section and always a poor section of town.  Poor people come from the “other side of the tracks,” and poor people are a necessary part of the infrastructure of your society.  The class system is an integral part of the infrastructure, just as much as roads and jails are.  In the same way as roads and jails are maintained using your money system—including poor peoples’ untenable position—is maintained and reinforced by the monetary structure.  This is even justified by the Christian establishment; the Nuns taught us that, “the poor will always be with us.”  But then, if you look at reality, the class systems are all man-made.  How do you make this class system?  You use the money system.  And who runs this money system?  The upper-class white man.  He decides which groups are going to have access to his man-made money system and which groups are going to be poor.  Certain groups of immigrants were imported specifically to fill the lower ranks of the social hierarchy.  The poor victims are blamed; told that they are poor because they have no initiative, are weak-willed, or whatever.  But, poor people are manipulated into taking their place in a structure that has always included them, using the money system.

Bemidji has already allocated millions of dollars for “housing for the poor,” the fancy new jail.  The people who will be housed there are people who are excluded from the political and money systems (how many rich people have ever spent even a night in jail, no matter what their crime)?  There’s more money going through the economic system from a person in jail than from a person living peaceably in their own house.  Crime is also a part of the infrastructure of the dominant society.  Crime creates jobs and crime reinforces and entrenches the white man’s class system.

Maybe I see things a little differently than whites do.  Indian people never had a class system (until the BIA tried to create one).  Poverty, crime, a centralized market economy are all institutions that white immigrants brought with them, a necessary part of their imported European neo-feudal social organization.  Poverty is a man-made problem.  Poor people are created and then victimized by your political and economic systems.  (Welfare and other “social service” programs give more benefit to the providers than they do to the poor people they are supposed to serve.)  Your society has created this human suffering and profits from it.  Why don’t you take responsibility for your actions?  White racism has kept all but a few Indian people from taking a place inside the white structure.  So, we are not looking at you from inside your structure, but looking at you from the outside, and analyzing your society and how you govern.  We see you for who and what you are.  We also see your monetary system as one big crooked con game.

Francis Blake, Jr.

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