/ by: GuerrillaFeminism

Guerrilla Feminist Focus: Sloane

Welcome to our weekly column, Guerrilla Feminist Focus, where we feature one badass Guerrilla Feminist!

Name: Sloane

1. Tell us a about yourself. What projects are you currently working on?

Currently, I’m working with GF as Native Issues Coordinator, I write book reviews for Native Peoples Magazine, and I’m a Youth Assistant for a Native-focused non-profit. I’m hoping to work on a cultural preservation project with my partner’s grandmother for Lakota youth both on and off the reservation.

2. What are you passionate about? Why?

As a member of the Oglala Lakota nation, I am passionate about Native rights. After entering college, dealing with family issues, and a major that I was talented at, but hated, I ended up with PTSD, anxiety, depression, OCD, agoraphobia, and, unbeknownst to me, undiagnosed ADHD. For a long time, I was really lost and consumed by my mental illnesses with no direction and nothing outside of myself with which to dedicate myself to. During this time, I started becoming interested in social justice/critical race theory through Tumblr and wanted to become more committed to both my identity as a non-rez, rural, mixed Lakota persxn and my Native community. It was a combination of social justice, critical race theory, and Native rights that helped me to learn how to cope with my ongoing mental illnesses. Today I feel pretty good about handling my mental illnesses and coping *knocks on wood* but it was only until I was able to find what I was passionate about and have something beyond myself with which to motivate myself into action that I was able to get better. I realized that I’m very altruistic, as I think many Native people are, and needed to see tangible, physical reasons and changes as to why it was worth getting better.

3. What activist efforts are you involved in? What causes do you support?

Currently, I work as Youth Assistant for a Native non-profit and I find the work very fulfilling. Being able to do the kind of work I’ve wanted to do for a really long time is especially important to me, so here’s hoping I don’t fuck it up. lol. As far as outside of work, I’m mostly focused on inter-community solidarity and education. I’m dedicated to building solidarity between BIPoC communities, particularly as it relates to the Black American and Ndn community, and also using social media as a platform to center Native narratives, dispel myths and anti-native attitudes/actions perpetuated by PoC and white people alike, and demand that people do ACTUAL decolonization that centers Native people, Native needs, and prioritizing the deconstruction of the settler state and their settler/occupier complicity that benefits from the continued illegal occupation of our lands, displacement, relocation, and genocide – no matter how minuscule that privilege and complicity might be.

4. What do you like most about doing activist work on social media platforms? Why?

Since I was born in a very small, insular white immigrant farming community, access to activism is a very real issue. A lot of people take for granted that we must all live in large, urban areas or near urban centers where activism is available and feasible for all people. Social media allows me to learn from others and be involved in ways that just would not be possible without it. Making connections with others is what I like, especially. I’ve made wonderful friendships and relationships, that I hope last for the rest of my life, through social media and I feel very lucky for it.

5. What or who inspires you?

Native people, our persistence, our potential, our survival, our strength and our humor inspire me, especially Native womxn and two-spirited people.

6. Since activist burnout is a very real thing, how do you practice self-care?

I think the most important thing I’ve learned is to create safe spaces within safe spaces. So what does that mean? That means that I have spaces online that are specifically for non-social justice related interests that help me to avoid burnout and keep the internet/social media a good place for me to be, emotionally.

Otherwise, I take a lot of naps. I buy nail strips. I take a bath. I eat delicious food. I watch Neflix/Hulu. I watch YouTube makeup and pimple-popping videos. I disengage from social media when I need, as well.

7. Do you have any advice for those wanting to engage in activism (either online or offline)?

I think it’s important to remember that you just do what you can, where you can, how you can, if you can. Activism isn’t the only physical, grassroots movements, it’s also the interactions, education, and community building that happens online. I think there’s an unnecessary hierarchy we create in our minds that physical, on-location, in-community grassroots activism is the only form of “legitimate” activism. Make no mistake, that activism is important, but if that was the only kind of activism that worked, then we wouldn’t need activism at all. If it weren’t for social media, Native people would not be connected like we are today, particularly when we consider our small, segregated population. We wouldn’t be able to come together like we do today. Most likely non-Natives wouldn’t interact with any Natives at all, ever, if it weren’t for social media. It’s through these mediums that we’re able to dispel myths, confront anti-Native colonial attitudes, educate non-Natives, demand space on our homelands, center ourselves and our narratives, create awareness surrounding our issues, work on inter-community solidarity, and reassert that we are not extinct and that this is our land. This is essential work. It’s vital to Indian Country. This work wouldn’t be possible without social media, and in that way social media and the internet solidifies its importance. This work helps to build a foundation in which physical grassroots activism becomes more effective. It doesn’t have to be a black and white, either/or scenario. All forms of activism are equally valid.

8. Where can people follow you online?

You can follow me on Guerrilla Feminism of course! Also feel free to follow me at @CanteZuyaWin on Twitter.

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