Gyasi Ross: Resolution for getting unstuck

"It’s kind of funny – some of the kids that used to beat me up and make fun of me are my close friends today.

After I initially moved to the city from Montana, there was a short period of stable living with my dad. A real “dad and son” setting – fishing, baseball, the whole nine. Soon after, however, as rolling stones are wont to do, he rolled; I found myself living with my auntie on the Nisqually Reservation.

She was kind enough to bring me in, and I am forever grateful for that. Still, I was another mouth to feed and feeding costs money. Since my auntie certainly didn’t have much money, she wasn’t my parent, and my parents weren’t providing any sort of money or resources to help feed me, I got the feeling that I wasn’t always “wanted.” Plus, she already had problems with her own children. Who needed the hassle of another kid? Somehow, what was supposed to be a short-term “emergency situation” turned into me boarding there for almost two years.

I was stuck.

And doesn’t it seem like little kids can always smell blood when another kid is in a vulnerable position?

I soon found myself defending my poor fashion choices to my peers. Long before MC Hammer made extremely baggy pants and shirts cool, I wore baggy clothes out of necessity. My cousins were much older than me, and they had nice clothes – oftentimes through ill-gotten means – and I’d sneak wearing their clothes. I didn’t have many of my own.

In the morning on the way to the bus stop, kids would ask why my cousin’s Generra sweater was so huge on me. “That’s the way we wear them in the city.” They’d ask why my Jordache jeans were dirty. I couldn’t tell them that it was because my cousin had been wearing them the entire week before, so I’d say that they were “brown acid-washed.” Kids asked why I didn’t wear any socks. “It’s too hot.” I didn’t want to explain that I just didn’t have any."

Get the Story:
Gyasi Ross: Resolution: Stuck (Indian Country Today 10/6)

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