Genius Black:

Vibes and blessings from Black Owned Maine. Got another episode for you of the Black Owned Maine podcast. I’ll introduce you to our guests very shortly. However, I want to start with two things. One, I want you to be aware, keep in mind that if you learn from what we talk about, and if you enjoy what we talk about, and if this becomes part of your larger conversation, you should consider donating to Black Owned Maine podcast. You can definitely hit us up at blackownedmaine.com to do so. That being said, number two thing I want to share with you today is that I do have my partner here, the co-creator as well as the founder of Black Owned Maine, who’s going to put her voice on the mic and be part of our conversation. Shout out Rose

Rose Barboza:

What’s up everybody. I’m just here coming on the podcast. Some people have been asking why they don’t hear my voice, here’s my voice.

Genius Black:

Boom. That was the voice. So that being said, we’re going to have a cool conversation for you today. And I also want to take a moment here. I want to welcome someone who works as an artist in our community, an activists, an indigenous woman, and soon to be a mother, shout out the artists Mitchell.

Mitch:

Hey everyone.

Genius Black:

Y’all see how it’s rolling. So on this episode you got Genius Black, you got the artists Mitchell and you got Rose of BOM. So as Mitchell is here with us, I would to start to dig into a section right off the bat that we’re calling, standing in power. What I’d like to do is learn a little bit and hear a little bit about growing up on the reservation as you have.

Mitch:

Yeah. I guess I’ll start off. I actually was born in Portland.

Genius Black:

Oh!

Mitch:

Yeah. I was born in Portland. My family came from one of the generations of indigenous people that was relocated to the cities from the reservation. So there’s this whole movement at one point in history where a lot of the rez and able to integrate into society and this was across America. Part of that was my grandparents coming down and starting to kind of integrate into the city.

Genius Black:

Okay.

Mitch:

So yeah. I was born in Portland and we lived in Portland, I think on and off for my pretty much my whole life through adolescence, but a large portion of that time was spent going back home to the rez and spending lots of time there with our cousins and aunts and uncles. Actually I went to school on the rez for a little bit too. So I have some experience with that. I always tell people that being on the rez was one of the best times in my life. Because in the city, I’m just this Indian kid with long hair and just kind of having to always explain my existence to my peers and always being, “Oh yeah, here, let me educate you,” like I’m five years old, I have to educate you on the history of indigenous people. It’s a lot to carry.

Mitch:

So going to school down here and also going to school up there, it’s just kind of I was able to just exist when I went back home to the rez. I was able to just be a person. I don’t have to explain myself to anyone or do anything and I felt safe there actually. I know it’s not really that anymore. Conditions have declined a lot since I was five, it’s been like 20 years so lots of drugs and alcoholism and stuff like that. I hate stereotypes, but it’s real, those problems are real on the rez. But when I was young, it was really safe. I felt safe. I was able to run around with my cousins all the time and we used to chase the ice cream truck and everything like that, that was one of the biggest things during the summer, running down the ice cream man.

Genius Black:

We do know about that. Yes.

Mitch:

Yeah. Learning the dances in the school they teach you, where there’s a whole cultural section of the curriculum in the school where it’s devoted to the cultural learning and the reclaiming of language. We did lots of dancing, every Friday we did the community dance. So we go down to the cafeteria and kids who were learning how to drum, they would drum and we would dance and it was really nice.

Genius Black:

Oh! Sweet. So you were dancing to native, to this edition of drumming.

Mitch:

Yeah, our traditions. Yeah. So there’s this one thing it’s called the snake dance and it involves everyone. It’s one of those party lines where you kind of hold onto each other but you’re not really, I don’t think you touch each other, you just go and you go around in a circle and around the drum and it’s everybody. So anyone who’s in there who wants to join and joins in, and then everybody is kind of participating together. That was one of my best memories, going to school in the rez, our drum circle or dance circles. I always used to fall asleep in language class, it was so bad, my parents would get phone calls. She’d be like, “Yeah, just sleeping through language class,” and I didn’t pick up anything. Those were happy times for me when I was young being on the rez.

Genius Black:

See, I love hearing that. And for me I’m from Texas and obviously there were native people there just in all of America, but it’s kind of a different story when you hear the stories of different people and what’s transpired for their families over time. So I’m still learning about the native history in Maine, even though I’m from a land where there was native people, but the story unfolded differently. So for me, it’s all intriguing to really start to understand details and understand how things are still unfolding. Because I think sometimes we think about all this as being over and in the past as if it doesn’t continue today and tomorrow. One thing I wanted to ask, I had a note here to ask about misconceptions. My note, it says Indian relocated, and I was curious, are there any misconceptions that you faced in those times?

Mitch:

Maybe there’s talking, basically just going off the point that you said about people not thinking we exist or being reintegrated on our lands basically going to live wherever we want. And also that only that native people only live on the rez too, I feel like that’s a whole other thing it’s either you have to basically, “Oh, you’re Indian. Okay. So do you live on the reservation or do you just exist in the void as if it’s like those are your only lands,” people believe that your reservation is just what your lands are and they don’t really have the concept of all of the lands that you see around you are our ancestral lands.

Genius Black:

Thank you for claiming that. That’s why I was going to ask you. Can you just say out loud, which lands are yours?

Mitch:

Right. So, I mean, obviously we don’t believe in borders. We don’t believe in that. It’s roughly territories, but our territory is expanded to Canada not even in the United States, it’s a very small portion of that. So my ancestors, they’re Algonquins, we spanned a large portion of lands, straight through Canada, all the way to the West coast. So an entire territory that was our relatives basically. And the whole concept of ancestral lands, I feel like that’s something that I’m teaching in my work a lot, having to explain that and get that into people’s minds. When we’re thinking about where indigenous people live and it’s not just on the reservation. Our reservation is literally a tiny Island in the middle of the Penobscot river. It’s literally so small. You can walk the whole thing in half an hour.

Genius Black:

Really?

Mitch:

Yeah. You’re going to walk the entire [crosstalk 00:09:47] there’s trails.

Rose Barboza:

Where is…

Mitch:

It’s in Old Town.

Rose Barboza:

Okay.

Mitch:

Yeah. So our reservation is this little tiny Island inside of a small town.

Rose Barboza:

Oh boy.

Mitch:

And there’s just one way to get on and off. It’s a bridge. So it just goes out and comes back. It’s only one way on one way off. But our so-called territories are a bunch of little islands that span in the river. We also have territories that were ‘given to us’ by the federal government. So we have trust lands and federal trust lands that we have for hunting and everything like that. So it’s not just the reservation, and that’s not public knowledge. You haven’t just Indian Island. Because that’s also what it’s called too. It’s called Indian Island. Yeah.

Rose Barboza:

What!

Mitch:

Yeah.

Rose Barboza:

What! Oh boy.

Mitch:

Yeah. And it’s also home to the oldest church in Maine, the oldest, I think it’s Catholic. The oldest churches is standing on our reservation. Yeah. So that’s [crosstalk 00:10:54].

Rose Barboza:

It just goes to show.

Mitch:

Yeah. It points to [crosstalk 00:10:56] all of the missionary stuff, all of the religion, indoctrination, all of that kind of stuff goes back to the residential schools and just pounding this religion into us, so deep. I reject all of that too. So when I go home, learning more and more and growing up and actually seeing it for what it is, I have a different perspective than my elders because my elders grew up in that, are from the residential school kind of generations, they have been truly indoctrinated and I’ve had the privilege to not be there. So that’s where people learning from my elders have a different, they’re like, “Oh, well it’s actually supposed to be this way.” And the youth are like, “No we see what really is going on here and we reject that.” So there’re misconceptions, there are so many.

Genius Black:

Wow. No, thank you for sharing. For me, it reminds me, I think the other day I was watching an interview with the breakfast club or something, and they were talking to someone about how a lot of ancient ways of thinking of esoteric knowledge, our chemical knowledge, all this stuff and how in the black community even a lot of black teenagers in particularly twenties and 30 somethings are not rejecting Christianity as a whole, but a lot of the ways in which it was limited and taught to us, with the Jesus, with the blonde hair and blue eyes and people are just like, “You can tell me whatever you want. I’m going to try to live my life as a good person but I don’t believe, it’s not about me poking holes in everything but I know that what you’re teaching me is fallacious because of how you taught it to me and what you included with it.”

Genius Black:

So I don’t just pick up the mantle of that type of Christianity and just wear it because I know that it’s false. I’m not saying that everything about it or everything about everyone who believes in it is false. I’m saying that what you decided to show me as a front was false. I don’t want to call you on it. Which is also why a lot of people in these different communities are now embracing other types of spirituality and looking at crystals and all this kind of stuff. Because it’s just like, “Man, those limitations you taught me, I don’t buy that because you also taught me, as black and brown people, that I’m lesser than you.”

Mitch:

Right.

Genius Black:

Specifically.

Mitch:

Yeah, exactly.

Genius Black:

That being said, one of the things I wanted to talk about, respectability politics.

Mitch:

Oh yeah.

Genius Black:

Right? Because it’s something that, I mean, I’m all about respect. I’m not here to disrespect people, but sometimes I think some people threw respect out of the window already and then they expect you to approach them respectably, if that makes sense. But can you talk to me a little bit about that and your adherence to that or not and what that means to you?

Mitch:

Just continuing on the conversation of the divide between the youth and the elders nowadays, so for me I didn’t really start, when I was young and so… I come from a foster home, I was a foster kid for eight years in this white home. So I grew up with whiteness all around me. Even though I had a really deep devotion to my indigenous heritage and I knew where I was from and I grew up going to going home to the rez and going to rez school and learning my culture and all that stuff. When you live in a white environment you don’t have the choice to allow what washes you and what doesn’t.

Rose Barboza:

You don’t have the filters.[crosstalk 00:14:54]

Mitch:

Exactly you’re living in it.

Rose Barboza:

You have no idea.

Mitch:

You’re just there. Also you’re in survival mode too, because you’re a foster kid so you’re just kind of surviving, you’re just kind of living. So you don’t really have the choice to deny or reject whiteness when you’re living in a white home. Your guardians are white, you go to the doctor, they’re white, everything about your life is now white. So I didn’t really start going home and trying to find my culture for real and truly trying to embrace it until I moved out, until I got away from my foster home. So that was when I was about 22. So I’ve only been on this path for a few years, but when I jumped in, I jumped in fully. Time is a colonial construct like we keep saying. And there’s always these respectability politics also talking about, “How indigenous are you? Oh, you’re not as indigenous as me because you’ve only been doing this for a few years, whereas I grew up doing this stuff.”

Mitch:

So there’s so many different layers to this respectability. I’ve butted up against it because I think I decided to just jump in fully without any reservations, I just went. I continuously bumped up against this respectability politics over and over at each stage of my development. I think spiritually going home and actually going back to my ancestral lands and volunteering at this place called Nibezun, which is a nonprofit cultural preservation, a nonprofit and they’re on ancestral lands and they worked really hard to get that property.

Mitch:

I spent time there and I’m doing ceremony and learning the traditions and spending time with the elders and really getting to know my culture. That was a really hard falling out for me because I decided to just let everything radicalize me instead of taking it and being very polite about it, I wanted to know everything. I’m the kind of person that wants to know everything. I want to know the truth about everything, about anything, nothing’s off limits. So a lot of things were off limits and I really wanted to know. You just kind of reached a point when you go into a community space where you’ve learned what you needed to learn and it’s time for you to go, and the universe decides that for you.

Mitch:

So I ended up leaving there, but I left there with a lot of knowledge and a lot more connections to my people. I learned that respectability politics are put there by… They’re just these invisible rules put there by white supremacy by colonial thinking, by religion that we’re talking about. So you have to get rid of respectability politics when you’re really trying to get to the truth because people are going to prevent you from trying to see the truth and trying to get to the truth by putting up these barriers that are crap. Oh, you have to respect your elders at all costs, even if they are doing some religious crap that’s preventing you from accessing your culture, or putting up barriers or alert, being violent, there’s also that. You’re supposed to respect your elders at everything and some people hold fast to those kind of rigid. They try to call them traditional rules, but they’re not, so they’re trying to…

Rose Barboza:

Traditional rules, it’s like what they said [crosstalk 00:19:40].

Mitch:

Yeah, exactly, traditional from where? From post residential school? The respectability politics that were put on us by nuns and priests, by religion, or are we going further back to live respectability politics set forth by our own culture, by our own elders and wisdom, which I try to bypass all of the religion, all of the colonial thinking, trying to get back to the real roots of our culture and that’s matriarchal, that’s truth telling that’s just the truth as it is without anything added or taken away from it. Even if it hurts you, hurt your feelings or whatever the truth is the truth. A lot of it has come up in dealing with how, me as an artist, I express myself.

Rose Barboza:

Yes.

Mitch:

So nudity, I paint self portraits of myself and I paint them nude because that’s who I am, that’s what it look like. A body is a body and it’s sacred. It’s nothing, colonialism and all these things have put sexuality on everything that has to do with anything literally anything nude is sexual somehow. Why are we thinking like that? And why is it so taboo when you look back a long ways and you’re just running around with almost no clothes on, and people are swimming together naked and all that, that’s traditional.

Genius Black:

In many cultures yeah.

Mitch:

You’re just kin, you’re relatives all together. You should feel safe to do that with each other. And that’s how it was until colonialism, until those things were put on us. We’re trying to get down to the times where we didn’t have stuff put on us. So I’m searching for that and every time I go deeper, the next nude portrait, Oh God, that’s way too out there. I actually was scared. I painted my eyes first, only, I only painted my face and then just my eyes, and then I went deeper and then exposing breasts and, “Oh my God, that’s almost too much,” and showing that on the streets of Portland even was too much for people to handle. So I would go show my art, First Friday Art Walk, and oh my gosh the reactions of people were just, “Whoa, boobs! Holy cow” [crosstalk 00:22:45]. Hell no! And then I said, “okay, fine. I’m going to dig deeper and expose a full nude portrait,” and mixed media artists. So I made it look realistic.

Rose Barboza:

People were like, “What!” [crosstalk 00:23:01]

Mitch:

It’s a huge like pubes, I individually put hair on my thing.

Genius Black:

Okay. All right [crosstalk 00:23:10].

Mitch:

That’s my truth. That’s how far I’m willing to go. Nothing’s off limits for me. And so it’s so taboo for me to kind of almost exist now because everything that I say and do, I’m doing it from who I really am and not from what’s put on me, what I’m expected to do. It’s impolite for me to show a nude portrait on the sidewalk, it’s very impolite, for me to do that. And it’s impolite for me to say that I reject the chief of my tribe, that’s so bad. And it’s rude for me and it’s inappropriate for me to question my elders when they’re teaching religious rhetoric that does not serve us.

Mitch:

That’s what I’m coming up against. And so I actively participate in rejecting that publicly. So in my art and on my social media, when I speak, when I write, I actually go out of my way to provoke these kinds of figures in my communities. So these people that actually stand in place of white supremacy, they’re like “Hold the space for that.” And I actively poke them and say, “Hey, are you sure you want to be there? Oh, are you sure?” Asking them those questions and for me to ask those questions, I’m the enemy, I’m not allowed to ask that stuff. I’m not allowed to go there. So that’s been a struggle and I have a lot of support behind the scenes from people who aren’t really respected in the community.

Genius Black:

Yeah.

Mitch:

But they don’t publicly support me because it’s a really delicate balance of, I have the elders respect and I know I have some elders that really respect me and will always back me and they will back me behind closed doors in public. Some people don’t do it for, “Oh yeah I’m a really respected elder or somebody in the community and I like the artists Mitchell and I like her work and I like what she says and stuff, but I only support it in public where people can just see,” then they’re like, also support me behind closed doors when people are trying to talk some stuff about me behind my back. I’m also teaching them, they’ve also said, “I didn’t ever have the courage to say the things that you’re saying,” because in our society you are easily shunned and you’re easily ostracized and if you’re not accepted or you’re being rude or if you’re being an agitator or whatever, it’s really easy for the community to close ranks on you.

Genius Black:

Yeah. Well, it’s tough because part of what happened is that you’re talking to people who grew up in an era where to survive, you literally were required to have a different set of rules that exist in 2020, 2021, 2022. Right? As much as we can say, that’s problematic that some of their approaches and you don’t understand how, you’re holding space for white supremacy. I know I might not feel it but that’s happening. Also they learned that in survival.

Mitch:

Exactly.

Genius Black:

So it’s really this no, that’s kind of an intense dance to just try to live out. And I know one of the things in our pre-talk with you, because we tried to have a little pre-conversation. One of the quotes that really stood out to me was, “I rubbed them in just the right way and it hurts them.”

Mitch:

Like sandpaper. It’s real because you got to ask those really hard questions because that’s what’s shaping you, sand paper shapes you as much as it hurts. It has a purpose, when you’re making something, you’re crafting something and you’re trying to make it better, getting rid of all those rough edges and stuff, it’s just the same way but it hurts.

Genius Black:

You’re using it. You’re using the pressure and you’re using the grid, through some, it could be perceived as pain, but again, to get rid of the things that aren’t smooth, that aren’t fluid. Yeah and people don’t always love that, we know that. It doesn’t look comfortable for any of us, but I feel you.

Mitch:

A recent thing was, I’m trying to kind of call out an organization for Indigenous People’s Day and how they were kind of using it. They were definitely not taking the day off for respect because it was Columbus Day and then they changed it and now it’s not real anymore. Now we’re not going to celebrate, so I was calling out an organization and calling on the tribal ambassador because the tribal ambassador was involved with the organization as an education tool or something like, “Oh, we’re going to dedicate this day to educating our staff.” But it’s just another white supremacy tactic of just performing and she’d be like, “Oh yeah, we’re down for it,” but we’re really not.

Rose Barboza:

For the day.

Mitch:

[crosstalk 00:28:50] Exactly. For one hour, only one hour was dedicated. So I went out on a limb and I’m like, “Really, is this really what we’re going to do?” And I get, because I don’t hold a title, because I don’t hold a position in our community, because I’m not there. I don’t live there. I get silenced a lot or I get ignored a lot and that’s something that when I’m scraping people, when I’m like, “Hey, I’m going to poke you and try to see how far you’re willing to go, how radical are you? Who are you really supporting here? In favor of what?” I think they really, they actually know the answer and it’s not a good answer.

Mitch:

I truly believe that they know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s not like they don’t know what I’m talking about because I’m trying to speak to that deeper inner knowledge. And I feel like I have a special way of doing that. So they know the answer, they don’t like the answer and they want to deal with the answer. So they’re just going to straight up ignore me, as if they never heard it, but they did. So part of that respectability politics are rubbing up against these things or just also to plant seeds and not even really intention. I don’t expect an answer, I don’t really expect a result really. Actually try to dig in so deep that I plant a seed and you didn’t even know it. So later, you really understand, a lot of people have actually come to me recently who actually hated my work before, like a year ago. Following me, following my work and then just admitted to me recently being like, “Hey, I actually couldn’t stand you at first, but you turned me and now I love you.” [crosstalk 00:31:00]

Mitch:

People hate to watch your stories on Instagram. They hate watch you for so long and you really get to them and then you would change them. But the only reason I’m able to do that is because I don’t mind being a sandpaper. I don’t mind that. I accidentally found that that’s my role, even though I try to reject it so many times I tried to shrink. I’ve tried to be quiet. I’ve tried to do everything that everyone asks of me and try to be that servant to this thing. But I’m not the servant, I’m the leader. And I keep trying to reject it and every time I try to go off this path is when stuff doesn’t go right. When the universe is like, “No, you’re not supposed to do that. What are you doing? Move back, get back in your lane.” That been really difficult being that.

Genius Black:

I was going to say here, and I don’t mean to cut you off. It’s really eye-opening, I guess to be honest, when I think about how all this space is being held in our societies and in your community like you said you’re kind of back and forth, but when I think about what you’re telling me, it’s about standing in your power, right? That’s the section that we’re kind of on right now. I want to know where do you draw strings from? And why is it important to keep pushing forward and fighting this fight? If people aren’t listening, if they’re not ready, if they’re tired, where do you get strings from and why do you keep pushing on it?

Mitch:

I guess I could share the story about, this week is my one year anniversary of recovering from a suicide attempt. Actually last year I went through a whole kind of period of reintegrating into this reality, I guess if that’s what you want to call it. A wanting to escape so badly that I rejected it fully, but then made the decision in a moment and that came from nowhere, this decision, and it was actually an angry decision. It actually came down to the deep split, and I was totally cut in half. And I was so angry that I got split so far from myself. So I’m like here, but I’m not here. I’m so far away. And I was so angry, I’ve done too much. I’ve come too far. I’ve worked too hard. And I can’t leave right now. And I’m not even happy about it. I’m so angry about it. I’m so distressed by it. But I have no choice because it was just one thing that clicked, I hit rock bottom.

Genius Black:

That’s deep.

Mitch:

Yeah [crosstalk 00:34:15].

Rose Barboza:

… When you think about just what you said about being on your path or being on this path and the universe is like, “No,” [crosstalk 00:34:23] that’s the perfect example. And I think there’s a lot of people who will be able to relate to that perhaps.

Mitch:

[crosstalk 00:34:31] And it’s not pretty.

Rose Barboza:

In general it’s like, you realized you say, “Wait, actually I do have a place here, even if I’m not even fucking ready to be in that place, but I know it’s there. And the world is telling me, just keep doing it. It’s going to be okay.” Whatever that looks like.

Mitch:

And I didn’t even think it was going to be okay. [crosstalk 00:34:54] I knew it wasn’t going to be okay. But I was like, “You know what?” The place where I come from a really dark place and I’ve lived in the darkness for a long time and so what if my purpose isn’t to be this bright shiny light, “Oh, love and light.” I’m actually dark and I’m intense and I am angry for a reason and what if that is who I am? Because I just keep striving too, I’m like, “Oh, why am I striving every day to be this beautiful, Indian woman?” And “Oh yes. Why is she so happy? I want to be like her.” That was the ideal. I feel instilled sometimes in my mental health journey, I’m still feeling, “Oh, that’s what I’m just trying to get to.” But I’m like, “No, actually, what if that is who I am, this dark lady,” that is the person that pokes you all the time.

Genius Black:

Yeah. I would say wow! I really like that and it hits on a lot of stuff that I’m not going to take all the time talking about. However, I will say that people are complex. One of the things that Black Owned Maine, that we often talk about when it comes to black people, brown people, stop trying to treat us as a monolith. Stop trying to create us as, all of you are Democrats, Republicans,” whatever, all of us are nothing. All of us are all of us. And it’s so interesting to hear you talk about how, you go through that struggle but complexity is really real.

Genius Black:

And I think the thing that gives us energy is not always what people presume it is. it reminds me of, I’ve been doing a lot of studying, a little bit out of context, about hip hop culture. I was talking to you Rose about how thinking about how hip hop came out in New York, in Memphis, in Atlanta, in new Orleans and how it blew up and how the dope game and dope boys and their money and fused it. But it’s just so interesting that when hip hop first started, if y’all, people think back in history when the first commercial hip hop songs was, Rapper’s Delight, a very funny, upbeat, fun party, came out of the disco era. And then later you had people like NWA and the gangster step in and make it dark. Did hip hop die or did it just hit harder?

Genius Black:

I think it hit harder because people are complex. They both want to party. And they sometimes sit in the bathroom by themselves where they think no one can hear them. And they cry about the hurtful shit in their life. Both are real. And I’m using hip hop as a genre and as a certain vehicle, but the reason that it blew up and the way that it did and it caught on is because it touched all of that. So I love hearing you talking about how grappling with, “Am I just the darkness?” I posit that you are more than just the darkness. This is my opinion, but are you darkness and should you come from, that angle and should you represent that piece even, wow! I don’t want to get too bad metaphysical to the light workers or whatever, yes, because that’s who you are. If you have people out here trying to act like “We’re not good and bad,” don’t trust them.

Mitch:

Right?

Genius Black:

Don’t believe in nothing they say.

Mitch:

No.

Genius Black:

If they say we’re all bad, or if they say we’re all good, do not trust them. We’re just going to give you that on the Black Owned Maine Podcast. Take that. I was trying to tell you.

Rose Barboza:

Yeah, that’s true. Everyone’s grouped in to one category, I know what you were saying, we even group ourselves, and you were saying, I can relate to that and saying, “Well, I just want to be happy and do yoga everyday.” And then I’m just like, “Everyone’s so negative like motherfucking negative. I’m just critical. And you should appreciate it because if I’m critical towards you it means that I’m thinking about you and I want you to do better.”

Genius Black:

Exactly.

Rose Barboza:

It’s not because I don’t like you or I don’t want to be friends with you, it’s because you want to pull these things out and say, can we really talk about this and think about what we’re doing and what you’re saying about colonialism, it’s like we don’t need them, sometimes we don’t even realize we’re trapped in that. Someone can come and be like, “Hey, let’s look at this thing that you’re doing.” You say you don’t want to support white supremacy, but see those Amazon packages every day. [crosstalk 00:39:28]

Genius Black:

How’d you get to the top of the list anyway. So I’m going to say this because that was really feeding me. I really appreciate you. Thank you for sharing and just being candid and coming to spend time with us.

Mitch:

One thing to add, I guess where the strength comes from. It’s not, I would say, anger it’s actually fuel for change and physically, I used to weigh 300 pounds, a couple of years ago. So I went through a physical transformation as I’m going through a spiritual transformation and guess where that all of the energy that I got to finally go from running, I could only run maybe 20 feet at once when I was 300 pounds, my bones could barely support me. And that all came from rage, not one day of me running or trying to change came from happiness. Nothing came from nothing positive. It all came from this deep boiling rage that I had kept suppressed for a long time trying to be that love and light. But when I finally got there, I was like, no, this is like a boiling lava this is fuel and it’s a sacred, rage is sacred. Yeah.

Genius Black:

And it has been for a long time. So you bring me to the next section, part two of this podcast. I know we’re just getting into it, but it’s called living in trauma. Right? And not to take anything from what you’re saying, Mitch, because this is brilliant to me again, I’ve been studying the hip hop culture and anger, anxiety, axed, disappointment with a lot of people who were in life. If that didn’t fuel both the drug game and stuff in America, as well as the hip hop and then the record labels and all that. There’s something particularly amongst people of color and marginalized people in America, whether we want or not, so much of our identity is fair to us as minority, secondary, tertiary, whatever. And we learn to be like… I don’t agree with that and after months and months of not agreeing with that, I’ve become anxious about it. And then I become angry. And then I create and demonstrate actions that make people re-imagine me. That gets pulled out of people of color in a way that it doesn’t other people, because they’re not pushed into this. Back to the wall.

Genius Black:

I’m not trying to act all black, I mean, I’m a brown person who lives in a decent neighborhood in case was wondering, I don’t live in the middle of the ghetto hood. I know y’all think that’s where black people live. That’s not where I live, but I’m still Brown and people still look at me funny and talk to me in certain ways. So I’m dissecting the whole pie, not just inner city, Chicago. That’s not the only thing I’m talking about. I’m talking about what black people and brown people and native people and aboriginal people exist in all the pockets in the world, because that gets overlooked. People want to use these, they put these magnifying glasses on the watts riots and what happened in LA and this year. But as people of color and as indigenous people, we have learned the life of living inside of trauma.

Mitch:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Genius Black:

So that’s something I want to dig into a little bit. This is a shared experience between a lot of BIPOC people, different communities, these aren’t all same communities, right? I want to be real about that. Black, indigenous, people of color I know we use the term BIPOC just to put it out like that’s what we’re talking about. One of the questions I had is why are many white folks, just saying, unable to grasp the reality of BIPOC people constantly living in trauma? What do y’all think about that? What’s the disconnect?

Rose Barboza:

I think the disconnect comes again in what you were saying much about the education being a huge piece. And also, I mean, if you don’t know, you don’t know. If you don’t know, you literally just cannot even imagine why that would be a thing, right? I’ve never seen a fly before, a fly doesn’t exist. So, can people learn? Absolutely. I talk about this a lot and I feel kind of funny talking about, but I think there’s a vast difference between the people who are openly racist and hateful and rude or the people who are overtly and the people who just are ignorant. But the ignorant people, I think you can change them. I think they can absolutely be taken and be educated and then say, “Oh wait. Oh shit. I did all of these things and we’re fucked up and whatever seminar or whatever the fuck I did,” I read a book, Whatever The Fuck I Did. And now I finally realized, right?

Rose Barboza:

But then there’s also the people who just will never, and that’s like brainwash, that’s what supremacy, that’s colonialism. That’s all of that all in one. So if you just have never… And the other thing I would say is that there are even people of color, again, talking about people of color, not being a monolith, and not just being the same. There are even people of color who will say, “I’ve never experienced racism. I’ve never experienced trauma. I’ve never been…” And maybe you haven’t, maybe you haven’t. However, perhaps you just didn’t know [crosstalk 00:45:23] that’s what was happening. You just didn’t even know. I was talking about being a kid, a little kid, just not even realizing that things were fucked up. Right?

Genius Black:

Yes.

Mitch:

Yeah.

Rose Barboza:

Especially in Maine, not especially in Maine, but it’s a factor here doesn’t [crosstalk 00:45:40] [inaudible 00:45:40] anywhere else.

Genius Black:

Just say we’re in Maine. So you can speak quite honestly to the fact that that is an actual experience of many Mainers, by the way, not just a little bit.

Mitch:

Not just a little bit.

Genius Black:

Yeah I want to be real. [crosstalk 00:45:51] people think like Maine ain’t about nothing at all. Oh, there’s no racism, there’s no struggle.

Mitch:

Vacationland.

Genius Black:

Come through for vacation [crosstalk 00:45:59].

Rose Barboza:

Can we get a new laugh?

Mitch:

White bread nation.

Genius Black:

I mean not that we’re wrong, there’s a lot of cool vacation stuff to do here, and I really invite you to come do it, but think about what we’re talking about. Think about our indigenous community. Think about the multiple African, whether people are refugees or just immigrants in general. Think about, African-Americans think about Latinos, Latinas, Mexicans. There are people here. And I know that Maine is known as rightfully so the whitest state in the union, that doesn’t mean completely white. And that specifically doesn’t mean completely void of the troubles of racism and classism in America. Stop playing.

Mitch:

Yeah. Vacation land for who, though? Why is it called vacation land? Yeah. “Oh, you know you want to escape, you’re in the city or whatever, if you’re a white just come to vacation land you can just live with all of us for the summer.”

Rose Barboza:

Everything’s good. Yeah.

Mitch:

Yeah [crosstalk 00:46:55] exactly.

Rose Barboza:

… Clog up the streets.

Mitch:

Yeah. But it’s not the same.

Genius Black:

Oh my gosh, she sounds like a local [inaudible 00:47:04]. [crosstalk 00:47:04].

Rose Barboza:

This summer I know covid is [crosstalk 00:47:10].

Mitch:

It didn’t stop them?

Rose Barboza:

It didn’t stop them.

Genius Black:

It did not stop them.

Rose Barboza:

But it will slow down and you could go outside and just potentially enjoy some space.

Mitch:

That’s true.

Rose Barboza:

Without someone in your face, constantly to an extent, right? This is coming from someone who worked in tourism for the last eight years seeing this people coming. “Oh yeah. I joke, Oh, just come into my house and I’m just like, does your house have heat? Then it’s not a house. Sorry. Is it a house?” Come into my house. Can you live in this place all four seasons?

Mitch:

Oh!

Rose Barboza:

Probably not.

Genius Black:

Even if it’s a place you’re renting. It’s fine.

Rose Barboza:

Yeah you could just admit it.

Mitch:

There’s a whole Island that shuts down for their off season. Literally people just own houses then they just shut the whole Island down. No one even lives there all year. What!

Genius Black:

No, the thing is too, because for me, when I think about… I honestly have come to learn over the years that Maine really is vacation land. I dig it. Yeah, it’s a problematic phrase, but I dig it. I think sometimes about how we start to break down the stigma of Maine, how we start to include more people in this enjoyment of vacation land, because it really is beautiful. I don’t want to take anything away from that. Part of why I’ve lived here over the years and decided not to just rush somewhere else after college is because it really is beautiful if you’re talking about the native lands and who really owns it. But these lands are overwhelmingly beautiful.

Mitch:

Yeah.

Genius Black:

Right? Welcome to Maine. But let’s talk a little bit more before we move on to the next section, I want to talk about the role that we need our white brothers and sisters to play in dismantling those stereotypes, dismantling the white supremacy. Even if it doesn’t look, “Oh, there’s a lot of people of color.” It doesn’t take a lot of people of color for there to be a white supremacist oriented system that we just haven’t gotten over yet. Right? So talk to me a little bit about the role that white people play. I don’t know whether you want to call it reparations or just, “Hey, can you do this? Can you support us? Are you an ally,” whatever language you might use. Talk to me about that.

Mitch:

I feel like that’s a question I’ve been asked a lot actually, by white people. “What do you want me to do? What should I do?” And it’s like, “Well…”

Genius Black:

Thank you for the question, but yeah.

Mitch:

I don’t know. For me, it feels like it’s not up to us to define the role of what white people should do. It’s up to them.

Genius Black:

The end of part one.