Learning with Alumni: Emcee One on Lateral Violence
Watch and Learn with UNITY lead trainer and Alumni Marcus “Emcee One” Guinn for more tools to better understand and address lateral violence.
The UNITY Network Voted in 2020 on their top ten issues facing Native youth, and #5 most common response was “Bullying, gossiping, cultural bullying or lateral violence”. Let’s work together to address this. In some homes, young Native people grow up witnessing the isolating effects of poverty, substance abuse, domestic violence, and feeling “less than.” Without social supports, they may want to make themselves feel better and release their anger and frustration, so may resort to bullying others, including other AI/AN youth.
Generations of internalized systemic racism, contribute to Native people bullying each other through lateral violence. Often those who have had to defend their identity will lash out on others to show their own “Nativeness.” Lateral violence and cultural bullying are a sign of unresolved traumas and identity insecurities surrounding belonging. With limited resources given to Tribal Governments, Tribes can turn on each other to prove that they are “more native than others” as a survival mechanism. The fighting over resources is often referred to as the “crabs in a bucket” mentality that Native youth can inherit from older generations. These negative coping skills are not traditional ways of identifying ourselves.
With the loss of cultural teachings over time, unhealthy lateral violence habits can be adopted to fill the void of self-worth that were once filled by coming of age ceremonies and communal recognition of belonging. At it’s core, those who hurt others are lacking a strong identity within themselves. Cyber-bullies or “Keyboard Warriors” often seek approval from their online followers, yet do not see the effects of their own pain being inflicted on other Native youth. UNITY aims to provide resources and teachings to increase Native youth wellness. UNITY is a place of healing and inclusiveness.