Growing up Maori in NZ: My daily experience of racism at school, playing rugby, at University and at the shops, by an anonymous 18 year old young man

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I was 9 and it was the middle of religious education at our state primary school when a lady told our class that God didn’t love the Tuhoe people because they were terrorists. I still remember that day because I wanted to cry I was so angry. I knew she was lying. So I walked out of her class and went to the office and told them I wasn’t going to go to religious education anymore. The teachers rang my mum and she came in and told them that neither me nor my brother were ever going back to religious education.

Sometimes kids would say racist things and I used to try to ignore them a lot. I played rugby for our town and there were some boys in my team who’d call us racist names. One day at training a boy called me a dumb N***** and I had enough and ran at him and punched him.

Well I got in huge trouble. The coach had heard it all but told me it was all my fault for reacting and I need to just ignore it, as usual he never told off the boys who said racist things. I walked off and was crying. My Dad came out onto the field and told off my coach. My coach kept trying to blame me but my Dad told him he was useless and shouldn’t let the other boys abuse us and then expect us to take it.

It was around this time me and my cousin used to be picked on by a group of boys at our school. They’d say racist things about us and we refused to take it, we fought back. Teachers didn’t really do much, we were told to ignore it but it’s hard to ignore someone giving you a hiding. At lunch they’d just chase us and fight us, sometimes 10 to 2 so it was never a fair fight.

One day my cousin left some 4 x 2s in the bushes. He never told me what he’d done but that day at lunch when they were all chasing us he shouted at me to follow him to the bushes. We ran out of the bushes with these pieces of wood and all the boys who’d been about to bash us started screaming and running away. They were very fast and we didn’t even hit any of them. We ended up in the principal’s office and we were the ones in big trouble not the boys who’d been bullying us for ages.

My Dad came in and he argued with the principal and told him that if the school couldn’t guarantee our safety then our family would send in people to the school to make sure we were safe. He meant it and so from then on the school made sure the bullying ended. I left soon after to go to another school anyway and I remember being terrified as I was going to a much bigger school and assumed the bullying was going to be way worse. But when I got there the culture of the school was great and there was no bullying like what we had gone through.

When I started college I didn’t know why but I kept getting put into woodwork and metalwork option courses that I’d never signed up for. I had won an academic scholarship in Year 9 and ended up getting excellence in NCEA 1, 2 and 3, but for a while someone there decided I needed to do a trade. There is nothing wrong with tradie work, I actually love it – that’s what I do during the holidays – but it’s unfair to look at me and decide: Oh yeah OK, that brown kid he can do woodwork even though he asked to do Financial Management.

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After I got excellence in Year 11, me and a mate got an invite to start going to meetings for excellence students. Well we turned up and the lady asked us what we were doing there because this was a meeting for excellence students. A lot of the Pakeha kids who were there started giggling at us. I can’t remember what we said to her but she never really welcomed us into her meetings. I’ve got to admit we paid no attention in her meetings. A few more times when we’d turn up she’d look at us and ask if we were in the right place. She never remembered our names. We were the only Maori and Pasifika boys there.

Over the years I’d get used to having to defend everything Maori, during class discussions other kids would argue that the Treaty is racist or that Maori scholarships are racist.

Once I got up to say that my scholarship came from my tribe not from the Government and someone shouted out “Hone Harawira” from the back of the class. Being a Maori kid in a mostly Pakeha world, yeah. You’re often put on the spot whether you like it or not. One minute you’re defending your tribe in class. Next minute you get told to lead the haka or speak at a powhiri for the school.

(To read more, please follow the link below…)

http://www.thatsus.co.nz/my-daily-experience-of-racism

Yay for Barbie’s New Looks! By Mary Bowerman and Hadley Malcolm

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Barbie may now look a bit more like the rest of us, curves and all.

Mattel, the maker of Barbie, announced Thursday the iconic doll will now come in three new body types and a variety of skin tones and hairstyles. This is the first time the doll will be available in body types beyond its original stick-thin frame.

Mattel has been putting Barbie through a transformation for the past two years to bring the doll in line with realistic body standards and reflect the diversity of the kids playing with the dolls. Last year Mattel introduced 23 new dolls with different skin tones, hairstyles, outfits and flat feet, rather than the perpetually pointy ones meant to fit into sky-high heels.

This year’s dolls will be available in tall, petite and curvy body types. Online sales start Thursday on Barbie.com and dolls will start hitting stores March 1, with a total of 33 new dolls being rolled out by the end of the year.

(To read more of this article, follow the link below…)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/nation-now/2016/01/28/barbies-new-shapes-tall-petite-and-curvy/79449784/

 

“The Dark Horse”: A Movie Review… and a Chess and Children’s Champion.

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“The Dark Horse” (released in July 2014 and directed by James Napier Robertson) is a film telling the true story of a Māori ex-speed chess champ, Genesis Potini, a  “…charismatic, brilliant, but little-known New Zealand hero…”  http://www.nzfilm.co.nz/film/the-dark-horse

Once a champion chess player, Genesis (played by Cliff Curtis) suffered from bipolar disorder and spent years in and out of mental institutions.  After years of estrangement from family, (“the dark horse” is an interesting variation on “the black sheep”… as well as, of course, referring to the black knight in chess) Genesis returns to the neighbourhood where he grew up, released into the care of his older brother, Ariki.  He also begins to form a relationship with his nephew, Mana (Ariki’s son), whom he discovers is soon to be initiated into a gang, which Ariki is already involved in.  There are many bleak scenes in “The Dark Horse”, which is rated “R” for language and drug use.  The film is insightful: we may not agree with Ariki’s desire that his son join the gang, but we can understand that this is the only life he knows and, as his health fails, he also believes it to be a viable form of protection for Mana.  Ariki’s choices for his son are not “poor choices”: they are what Ariki believes to be the only choices.

At the advice of the mental health workers who cared for him, Genesis vows to “keep busy” and takes an interest in a kids’ chess club, the “Eastern Knights”, a group founded by a local couple, Noble and Sandy, to give underprivileged children a sense of purpose and belonging.

An emotionally charged and inspiring drama about a man who searches for the courage to lead, despite his own adversities – finding purpose and hope in passing on his gift to the children in his community”.   http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2192016/combined

As part of his bipolar disorder, Genesis is passionate about chess and an intense perfectionist.  On his first night in the chess club he tells the kids he will coach them to win the National Chess Championships in Auckland in six weeks’ time.

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A scene from “The Dark Horse”

Noble (Kirk Torrance) and Sandy (Miriama McDowell) are concerned, knowing Genesis’ mental health history, that he might be speaking big words which he won’t be able to deliver on.  “You talk dreams to those tamarikis, you better follow through,” Noble tells him.

I love “The Dark Horse”, because, as well as questioning our notions about “mental health”, it is a movie about hope for children who might otherwise not believe in themselves and about having passion and following a dream.  It’s about cultural pride, dignity and self respect: about standing tall and giving something your best– the values and legacy Genesis Potini instilled in the children and young people he coached.

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The real Genesis Potini, coaching local children in the “Eastern Knights” Chess Club.

“The Dark Horse” has won a number of awards  and was labeled by leading New Zealand critics as “One of the greatest New Zealand films ever made”.  The film is being released theatrically in the U.S. by Broad Green Pictures on April 1st 2016.    

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dark_Horse_(2014_film)

We at “The Forever Years” highly recommend this film.  (View the trailer below).

 

Bonding With Your Adopted Child

Adoption CollageOriginally published in WTE (What to Expect), Pregnancy and Parenting Every Step of the Way.  Author’s name not present.

It’s perfectly normal for adoptive parents to look at their new child and wonder if he’ll ever fit into the family, if you’ll ever truly love him, and if he’ll ever return that love. Just remember that adoptive parents bond with their babies as successfully as biological families!

To make the journey go smoothly, here are some strategy suggestions for bonding with your adopted child.

Don’t rush it. If you adopted a baby, how quickly he adapts depends on how old he is. If he’s younger than six months, he may fuss more than usual, refuse to feed sometimes, and snooze for too many hours (or too few). These behaviors have nothing to do with your parenting skills, and they’ll most likely pass in a few weeks. In the meantime, cuddle your baby as often as you can, give him gentle rubdowns before bedtime, and wear him in a sling or front carrier instead of putting him in his stroller or bouncy seat. Music can be soothing, too — if you can, find lullabies in your child’s native language if you adopted internationally.

(To read more, follow the link below…)

http://www.whattoexpect.com/family/bonding-with-your-adopted-child.aspx

Meet the ‘Radical Brownies’ – girl scouts for the modern age

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Girl Scouts with a difference!

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Not all girl scouts are concerned with peddling shortbread cookies. There’s one troop of young girls in Oakland that discusses matters of racial inequality and wear brown berets in an homage to radical civil rights groups.

The girls, ages 8-12, are part of the “Radical Brownies,” an edgier, younger version of the Girl Scouts, where girls earn badges for completing workshops on social protests, and a beauty workshop that celebrate racial diversity.

Radical Brownies is dedicated to providing young girls of color relevant life experiences, explains the group’s co-founder Anayvette Martinez.

Martinez, a community organizer, created the Radical Brownies with Marilyn Hollinquest because “there aren’t enough spaces [for young girls of color] in our society.” The Radical Brownies of Oakland launched last month and already includes 12 girls. All the members are girls of color or mixed-race. The Radical Brownies are not affiliated with the Girl Scouts of the USA.

https://www.facebook.com/875969742435827/photos/a.912576835441784.1073741828.875969742435827/935196363179831/?type=1&theater

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