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Truly Lousy Advice

  When I was 9, I was trapped by two 16-year-old bigots, who were still in the 6th grade, & whipped with steel pallet-wrapping strips.  I left a blood trail going home & I remember white bigots saying softly, "Maybe the little tipi nigger bitch will learn her place, now."  My grandmother put me in a bathtub full of warm water & baking soda & picked off what floated, with tweezers.  She covered my back with a salve she made & today, the upper 2/3 of my back is a scar, but it is invisble unless you touch it.
  During the time I was healing, my grandmother got my Uncle Al to come in from the cities "on the sly" & teach me how to fight.  After I recovered & went back to school, I nailed the bullies & beat them to a pulp - about 30" inside the far boundary of the school grounds.  Teachers hauled me in to the principal's off ice for instigating!
  The teacher shook her bony finger in my face & snarled at me, "When people like you - you know, of mixed blood & indeterminate parentage - learn your place, and learn not to set your sights too high, you'll do better in the world!"
  I was a very bright child & I knew instinctively that that was Truly Lousy Advice.  I stood up & walked out of the room.  The principal shrieked at me, "Come back here!  Get back here, you little tipi nigger bitch!"  I ignored her & kept going.  I knew if I even turned toward her, I lost some points.  As I got the to the door, I snarled over my shoulder, "I'm not listening to you!  You're a bigot, so you're a spiritual cripple, and you have nothing to say that I'm going to hear."  Then I slammed the door as I left, because people like her find that so very annoying.
  My foster father eventually forced her to apologize, publicly, and of course it was not sincere, but her public humbling was what we were after, so we won.
  My Elders took me to a council & told me I had done exactly right - that you cannot placate a bully, nor can you back down to one, unless you want to have to make up ground later. And that is Truly Terrific Advice, which everyone who is ever bullied should keep firmly in their mind.

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