By Michael Kickingbear
Last night marked the 60th anniversary of the Grammies, which is put on by the Recording academy who thinks of themselves as (stated from their website) “The world's leading society of music professionals, the Recording Academy is dedicated to celebrating, honoring, and sustaining music's past, present, and future.”
Well, that is all well and good, but this year’s event was more about politics, than music. The biggest “messages” were really about the recent attention to women’s rights, sexual abuse, and strength and courage in the face of a seemingly oppressive federal regime. All things that I cannot argue with and actually support the abolishment of.
But there was one “political speech” that caught my attention, which was from recording artist Camila Cabello. I really do not know her work. I am honestly not very up to speed on current mainstream artists. I do however follow the Native American recording artist scene.
Quick research online reveals that:
“Karla Camila Cabello Estrabao was born March 3, 1997, and is a Cuban-American singer and songwriter. She rose to fame as a member of the girl group Fifth Harmony, which was formed during the second season of The X Factor in 2012.”
Ok, well I do follow some mainstream music judging contests, such as NBC’s “The Voice” as i recently followed Brooke Simpson, a Native American Singer who made it to third place last season.
But what caught my ears wasn’t Camila Cabello’s music, but her introduction last night. She literally said this:
“Tonight is this room of Music Dreamers, we remember that this country was built by dreamers, for dreamers, Chasing the American Dream. I’m here on this stage tonight because, just like the dreamers, my parents brought me to this country with nothing in their pockets but hope. They showed me what it means to work twice as hard, and never give up. And honestly, no part of my journey is any different from theirs. I’m a PROUD Cuban-Mexican Immigrant, born in eastern Havana, standing in front of you on the Grammy Stage in New York City. (pauses to compose herself) and all I know is that just like dreams, these kids can’t be forgotten, and are worth fighting for.”
What I reacted to what this phrase: “Tonight is this room of Music Dreamers, we remember that this country was built by dreamers, for dreamers, Chasing the American Dream.”
This set off all kinds of emotions inside of me. Mostly A N G E R. Not because of her fight for the dreamers, but for the notion that this country was built by and for immigrants.
Join me in a collective huge sigh and shake your heads with me…
No Camila, it wasn’t. I’m sorry to have to deeply disagree with you. This is yet again, another symptom of colonialism in the United States. It is pervasive. It is damaging. and it is VERY real. It is ALSO another example of NO ONE fact checking or editing speeches to be sensitive to other cultures in this so-called “country”. Namely us, the Indigenous people of this country and continent.
No Camila, this country was built on a history of murder, enslavement, disease, and trauma. Your political “speech” (once again) lacks true American history and knowledge.
The history of the United States is NEVER told from the perspective of first America. FACT: The first English to come to these shores would have died if not for indigenous intervention. FACT: Then they claimed the land as “theirs”. FACT: The way they said “Thank You” to their Indigenous heroes was through murder and countless genocide attempts via muskets, sword, fires, disease, and slavery.
Now, generations later, we receive continued abuses by the same descendants of the First English who now say to us “Get Over It”. The same descendants defend their offensive sports team mascots by saying they are “honoring us”. when really they think of it as “honoring the dead” or the “fallen”. We are neither. And the same descendants accuse us of drinking away federal dollars.
The same descendants now want to “Reform Immigration”. Perhaps the biggest insult of all to us as indigenous people of this continent. These descendants, whose OWN ancestors by THIER very own current definition, were illegal immigrants, and who now determine who may come here. (which is what Camila is really reacting to)
The hypocrisy is actually amazing. From a Native American perspective, “America” is about 525 Years Old. Current day descendant immigrant historians say it became an independent nation in 1776. That is when the Declaration of Independence was signed. They, therefore, say it is roughly 241 old. So you see, they also ignore their own country’s history because it includes Indigenous people in it. So they “count” us out of it by shortening it.
Our abuse started before 1492. Public schools still teach that Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492. Well, that is not true at all. Actually, the man was never landed here at all. It was actually what we know today as Haiti, where they recently suffered a devastating earthquake. Yes, that Haiti. You know… one of the countries that the current occupant of the white house recently called “Sh*tholes”? You can read more about the Columbus nonsense in Vince Schillings article in Indian Country Today Media Network (ICTMN)
Speaking of the Cheeto administration, when you watch them “tackle immigration” Remember America’s TRUE history. It’s so-called “Founding Fathers” who are so revered in American history books, never once talk about the genocide of Native American People. Of how President Lincoln, who gets a pass for supposedly freeing the slaves, ordered 38 Dakota men to be hung.
(watch the full documentary “Dakota 38 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pX6FBSUyQI)
Remember the history that I am trying to convey to you here now. If you are an American citizen, Immigrant or not, I am sorry to report to you that this is also YOUR history. If you are uncomfortable right now, good. Because it IS uncomfortable. But think about how we as Indigenous Americans feel? How we continue to endure this historical trauma. Words matter!
I actually do not blame Camila Cabello. An innocent 21-year-old girl, who most likely did not write her speech. Political pundits probably did. So when you hear “America was built by dreamers” or “immigrants” remember Native American Indigenous history. Because it’s being ignored..yet again…