Charles Trimble: Confronting racism can work
"My mother and I were on a bus from Pine Ridge to Rapid City, where we would join two of my older brothers in finding jobs for the summer. We lived in what seemed to be an old converted moving van, windowless and dank, in the Indian ghetto called Coney Island and we needed the money.

My mother wanted us to experience the satisfaction and pride of hard work and self-sufficiency. She was a widow since before I was two years old, and she was doing her best to give us the experience my father would have wanted us to have. I was only perhaps 6 or 7, so I hadn’t planned on finding a job, but would make myself useful otherwise.

As we rode across the treeless, hilly prairie between Pine Ridge and Hot Springs, the bus began to slow down and finally stopped, tilting slightly off the road. We all hoped there was no mechanical problems, for it was scorching hot and, in those days, the buses were not air-conditioned.

The large driver came down the aisle to the rear of the bus where we sat, and growled at my mother that if I stuck my head out the window one more time, he would throw me off the bus. When my mother pointed out that our rear seat window could not be opened and that some other boy in a seat forward of ours must be the guilty one, the driver in a very loud voice told her that if she didn’t quit “smarting off” he would put us both off the bus with our suitcases. My mother said not another word.

Another time we had taken the mail truck from our home in Wanblee to Martin, S.D., where we would then go to Pine Ridge by bus. In Martin, my mother went to a drug store to get some medicine she could only get from a pharmacist. "

Get the Story:
Charles Trimble: Confronting racism can be so satisfying (Indian Country Today 8/17)

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