I created Aponi for many reasons. Today we celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day, a holiday that celebrates and honors Native American peoples and commemorates their histories and cultures. However, Aponi surfaces a more subtle issue that can affect some of our Indigenous People, the feeling of shame. Aponi's Father identifies as full-blooded Pima Indian, (or Akimel O'odham, "River People", formerly known as Pima) and her Mom, Navajo and Chinese. She has always felt shame for being perceived as white, despite having no European heritage. Physically Aponi "passes as white", and enjoys white privilege in many ways due to her skin coloring. She has tattoos representative of her heritage, Chinese dragons on her shoulder, red ants, (relating to her Pima heritage) and a Navajo rug patterns as an arm band.
Despite her attempts to connect to her cultural heritage, Aponi has often felt shame for "passing as white" as her parents and siblings do not. At the same time she also does not feel that she enjoys the acceptance from her actual cultural heritage groups because she is not 100% any one race and therefore is not perceived as "of their culture" in the way others are.
This type of shame happens in many cultures. Shame due to the lack of acceptance. Maybe you are mixed race, maybe LGBTQIA+, maybe you are 100% a specific race, but you don't identify with it, etc.. What we all need to do is embrace who we are, own our heritage if we want to, or not... every person is an individual and should be respected for their individuality. If God wanted us all to look and be the same, how utterly boring would that be.
CELEBRATE DIVERSITY! The only race that SHOULD matter is that we are all part of the human race!
So today I say, forget feeling any shame. Own who you are. Aponi, (pronounced as aa-POWNiy) means butterfly in Pima, so in the way a butterfly transforms into something beautiful and free, break out of those feelings that prevent you from spreading your wings. Treat ALL PEOPLE with respect and love. I am not a religious person, but one golden rule that always resonated with me was this, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." I live by this golden rule and I wish more people would.
To my indigenous friends out there. I wish you a safe and happy Indigenous Peoples' Day! Own who you are and celebrate all that your people have brought to our melting pot in America.