Editor’s Letter February 2024: Decolonize

I’ve been working on two book projects for the last eight months. Both books center around an Indigenous man and an Asian American woman. I know a lot of writers were shocked to learn that I’m working on two books at once, but one is the buffer book to help me emotionally get through the main book…the horror romance book.

Yes, I had to add horror to that story, or I just wouldn’t be interested in writing it.

So what right do I have to write about a dream I had about an Indigenous man when I am not Native American? I can definitely write from the Asian American woman perspective, but what right do I have to write from the Native American perspective? Absolutely none.

So I have immersed myself in learning everything I can about the many tribes and their cultures, but more importantly, I am making sure I lift up those people I come across, because if I’ve learned anything, we rise by helping each other. This is what we call community. You give back by helping each other rise up.

While the book publishing world has been sending Indigenous stories my way, I spent some time at the new Perelman Performing Arts Center across the street from the World Trade Center monument in New York City over the weekend to learn more about Native Americans in Hollywood and in comedy.

I started off by attending Good Medicine, a comedy show making its rounds across America, featuring Jackie Keliiaa (First Nations Comedy Experience), Adrianne Chalepah (The Curse, Reservation Dogs), Brian Bahe (Vulture‘s “Comedian You Should and Will Know in 2023”), Bobby “Dues” Wilson (Rutherford Falls, Reservation Dogs), and Jana Schmieding (Rutherford Falls, Reservation Dogs, Echo).

The next day, I attended the Native Representation in Contemporary Media panel, followed by the play Between Two Knees (written by The 1491s). There was even a stop into Marcus Samuelsson’s newest restaurant, Metropolis, for brunch.

All of this, of course, took place on Lunar New Year. I am usually celebrating Lunar New Year with Matthew (the Maine Coon), but this year, I ended up spending the day decolonizing. But while I was in line, I heard many Native Americans talking about their excitement in celebrating Lunar New Year, as well. That put a smile on my face. We’re celebrating each other’s cultures.

Speaking of being in line, back in December, I got a news blast from the fashion industry that Polo Ralph Lauren selected a Native American woman as their artist in residence. This was amazing news. So it should come as no surprise to anyone that I would wind up in line behind the Glasses family as they were on their way to the Between Two Knees show. Both Naiomi and her mother, Cynthia, were wearing items she created for the Polo Ralph Lauren collection. If you haven’t seen the collection in person yet, you must. Naiomi Glasses’s work is incredible. It’s literally how I would imagine Native American luxury clothing to be. That’s how well made everything is. I have my eye on two pieces to curate into my wardrobe, as well as the wrap that should be coming out in the next drop.

These pieces are ones you keep in your wardrobe for the rest of your life. They are well worth the investment. I even have my eye on the blankets designed by Naiomi and her brother, Tyler. You can pick those up at Sackcloth & Ashes. You’ll even find a collection designed by Lauren Good Day (who recently did some work for Louis Vuitton with Dee Jay Two Bears in the Pharrell Cowboys and Indians collection).

While I am not completely in favor of non-Natives wearing the blankets as a fashion trend, I would definitely buy them for the home. They are absolutely beautiful. I first became obsessed with the blankets when I saw Lily Gladstone wearing them in Killers of the Flower Moon. These blankets are the epitome of luxury. They’re beautiful and so well made.

Speaking of Gladstone, I’m looking forward to seeing her win Best Actress at the Academy Awards. I already see the narrative they have going there. Notice that all of the other women in that category are white. Not a single person of color except Gladstone. If you think the Academy did not plan that narrative out a certain way, think again. It’s designed so that the Native American woman will reign over the whites. All this talk about Margot Robbie not getting a nomination – consider this the Academy doing her a favor. It’s the narrative that will follow that they are protecting her from. So let it go…

Although, I would be really mad if I was any of the other women in that category.

Speaking of Hollywood, if you haven’t been watching True Detective: Night Country with Jodie Foster and Kali Reis, you really should get on that. This story takes place in Alaska in the middle of winter. There are supernatural Native American elements involved as they investigate a strange occurrence at a research facility that killed all of the researchers in it, and it seems to be connected to an Indigenous woman that was killed a few years before. The murders are intertwined within a white world living on Indigenous lands.

If you like this show, I also recommend reading Village in the Dark, which also takes place in Alaska and deals with murders in the white world stretching into the Indigenous lands.

Speaking of books, if you’re looking to support a Native and queer bookstore, Vanessa Lillie, author of Blood Sisters, introduced me to Black Walnut Books. They have two different monthly book boxes you can subscribe to. This is a good way to decolonize and diversify your bookshelves. So far, I’ve enjoyed everything I received. I even bought a few more books, a t-shirt, and tote bags to help support their business.

So that’s it from me this month for this Editor’s Letter. You’ll find more posts going forward as I start to get back into my pre-pandemic life. I was getting tired of the post-pandemic Michelle. I missed my VIP life. It was time to give myself back the life I’ve been telling the Gen Z’er about. It’s been close to 4 years. Time goes by quickly, and before you realize it, your time left becomes short. This break from that VIP life just means that it’s time for transformation. That is what the Year of the Dragon is all about for us dragons. Our lives are about to transform into something else. I feel like it’s time for that change, as well.