Things That Matter

A Cheerleading Squad Honored Missing And Murdered Indigenous Women At Their High School—Without Permission

A group of high school cheerleaders rallied against the violence that indigenous women are subject to everyday in the US. They did so without express permission from their high school. But for these students, honoring missing and murdered indigenous women, was more important. 

Daunette Reyome and her cheerleading squad walked onto the basketball court with red handprints painted over their faces and signs showing Daunnette’s late aunt, Ashlea Aldrich. 

The team wanted to call attention to the many missing and murdered indigenous women whose cases are never solved. The red hands painted over their mouths, Daunette said, represented the people who seek to silence them. 

The cheerleaders held this memorial even after the school refused to give them permission.

“[During] half time, we grabbed pictures of [Aldrich] and stood on opposite sides of the gym and formed an ‘A’ in the middle. We had a moment of silence and showed pictures of her off to our fans,” Daunnette told Teen Vogue. “We presented those pictures to her parents, and myself and my teammates gifted them a blanket and a beaded necklace and beaded earrings.”

Daunnette, who is part of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska told MTV, “My aunt means more to me than a cheer uniform and pom-poms ever will.”

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Sad to say that the remainder of my last highschool cheer season has been cancelled per the school Superintendent and cheer sponsor. They're claiming it's been cancelled due to the cheer squad breaking our "contractual agreement" by having food/drinks on the court & not cheering during timeouts. That is completely false and let me add that we were given cheer contracts but only 1 cheerleader actually turned it in. How can we break a contractual agreement if there isnt even an agreement in place? Last week I brought my plan to honor my aunt Ashlea during our last home game during halftime & bring awareness to #mmiw. Last week the Supt said it was a good idea and then the day before the games tells me I cant do it. He said I cant do it bc a neighboring school said not to do it for their own reasons???? tell me I cant do something that I'm passionate about. Tell me I cant do something nice to remember my aunt. Tell me not to bring awareness to whoever I can about issues of domestic abuse and missing and murdered women. I'm going to show you I CAN AND WILL do exactly what I say Im going to do. I will stand up for what I believe in. I will stand alone if I have to. I wont be silenced by anyone. NOONE. Suspend me. Take back my cheer uniform. Idc. You will never take away my voice! My choice to go against my Supt decision was based solely on my love for my family & passion to change/break cycles of abuse. Not to shame anyone. This is about my aunt, I wished people would stop making about themselves. I Am A #hochunk woman. #peopleofthebigvoice I Am an UmoNHon woman #againstthecurrent ✊✊✊

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She told MTV News she spoke with school authorities a week prior to the basketball game against Wynot Public School; she said that while they were supportive at first, school officials later changed their minds. “That upset me, but it wasn’t going to stop me,” she said, adding that she and her co-captain “decided we wouldn’t allow anyone to be the hand that silences us, no matter the consequences. You’re going to listen to our message.”

In photos Daunnette posted to Instagram, her cheer squad can be seen standing on the sidelines of the basketball court, red handprints across their mouths. 

At one point, they took to the center of the court to display their posters of Daunnette’s aunt Ashlea Aldrich and her sons.

A graduate of Omaha Nation Public School in Macy, Nebraska, the 29-year-old earned a certification in cosmetology and devoted most of her time to her two sons.

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Sometime between Sunday Jan 5th and Tuesday Jan 7th 2020 my auntie, Ashlea Aldrich was tragically taken away from her two young sons, her mother & father, siblings and many other loved ones by the hands of a man that was supposed to love her, protect her & care for her. This man is the father of her two young sons. Im at a loss for words as this hit so close to home for me, too close. Domestic Violence is not our way of life! No woman should ever have to experience, but sadly it happens all too often. I finally fully understand the statement "no more stolen sisters". I used to think it just referred to kidnapping but now I get it. This monster stole a mother from her sons. This monster stole a daughter from her parents. This monster stole a sister from her siblings. This monster stole an auntie from her nieces & nephews. This monster stole her breath, her heartbeat, her LIFE from her. She leaves behind two young sons for her parents to raise but I know they will do a good job just as they did raising my auntie. Ashlea's sister has created a GoFundMe account on behalf of the parents & her sons to assist with funeral costs and expenses for the boys to help them along the way as they go on without their mom. I have posted it in my bio. Anything will help the family, even if all you can offer is a prayer. Thank you – Daunnette #justiceforashlea #mmiw #nomorestolensisters

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“She was a laid-back person, always giving, and so forgiving,” her mother, Tillie Aldrich remembered. Yet while Aldrich had her family’s support in raising her boys, her mother also recalled a pattern of domestic violence —and that Ashlea felt like she had no support from law enforcement when trying to protect herself.

According to news website Indianz.com, Aldrich and her family had reported concerns about domestic violence to Ohama Tribal elders before her death.

Ashlea was among the 84 percent of Indigenous women who have been subjected to violence in their lifetimes. “I wrote a letter to the Omaha Tribal Council in 2017 because I was just fed up,” Tillie said. “And in that letter I said my daughter’s going to end up getting hurt and possibly be killed. And that’s exactly what happened.”

Tillie Aldrich, told Teen Vogue that her daughter’s body was found by a creek in the Omaha Reservation in Nebraska, where the family lives.

Her death is still under investigation according to the family, but Tillie Aldrich said she was told police treated the initial scene as a homicide. Omaha Nation Law Enforcement would not comment on any details, nor confirm or deny any investigation.

Daunnette’s memorial was the first one Tillie Aldrich attended, and she said she was touched by the outpouring of love and support.

Tillie hopes that Daunnette’s demonstration not only calls attention to her daughter’s death, but to the many indigenous women who go missing or are murdered.”I live on a reservation, it’s word of mouth. We can report [someone missing or dead] to the authorities,” Tillie Aldrich said. “If we have a non-Native [person] missing in a city 25 miles north of us, it’s all over the news, the newspapers, posters going up. If we have someone missing, one of our Native missing, they try to keep it quiet.”

Native American women are being murdered and sexually assaulted on reservations and nearby towns at higher rates than other American women.

In some U.S. counties composed primarily of Native American lands, murder rates of Native American women are up to 10 times higher than the national average for all races, according to a study for the U.S. Department of Justice by sociologists at the University of Delaware and University of North Carolina, Wilmington.

“The numbers are likely much higher because cases are often under-reported and data isn’t officially collected,” 

The U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat from North Dakota, has introduced legislation to improve how law enforcement keeps track of missing and murdered indigenous women. “(Murder and sexual assault) is a real fear amongst Native American women,” said Lisa Brunner, co-director of Indigenous Women’s Human Rights Collective and professor and cultural coordinator at White Earth Tribal and Community College in Mahnomen, Minnesota.

That’s what Daunnette said she hopes her cheerleading team called attention to.

“I want people to know it’s more than just a red handprint over your face,” Daunnette said. “It’s an actual problem in our community. Our women go missing every day, and a lot go with their cases unsolved and unfound. It is a big problem in Indian Country. It is something I feel like needs to be talked about.”

AOC Wants Coronavirus ‘Reparations’ For Minority Communities

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AOC Wants Coronavirus ‘Reparations’ For Minority Communities

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For minority groups, there’s no denying that COVID-19 has had extreme effects.

According to reports COVID-19 deaths have appeared at disproportionate amounts in African-American and immigrant communities. In New York, where COVID-19 deaths have reached all highs, nearly a third of New York City’s infections are in Queens- a city with one of the most diverse populations in the world. More alarming is the fact that the hardest-hit neighborhoods are ones populated by undocumented and working-class people. In a recent interview with Democracy Now! Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called out Trump’s response to the pandemic for its part in the many deaths occurring across the United States highlighting them “deaths of incompetence,” “deaths of science denial” and “deaths of inequality.”

In her recent interview, Ocasio-Cortez called for coronavirus reparations for minorities.

Speaking about the enormous racial and ethnic disparity in the Coronavirus cases appearing in hospitals across the country, particularly the deaths that are occurring, Ocasio-Cortez emphasized the need for government intervention. Particularly when it comes to Queens, New York. “This is one of the most working-class and, as you mentioned, blackest and brownest communities in New York City. It is extraordinarily dense. Even for New York City, it is a very dense and densely populated community,” Ocasio-Cortez explained. “It’s no surprise that, you know, in the wake of this pandemic, right after the Trump administration announced its public charge rule, which basically said, if you are undocumented and seek public services, public healthcare, SNAP, WIC, etc., then you will be essentially put on a fast track to either denial of citizenship or outright deportation — and so, now that we have this pandemic and it is hardest-hitting in communities that are heavily immigrant and also with strong historically black communities, as well, that people are either afraid to go to Elmhurst Hospital out of the cost or out of sheer fear that they will be put in the public charge list.”

Since the rise of the pandemic, Ocasio-Cortez has eagerly pointed out the higher numbers of COVID-19 fatalities in low-income communities and its roots in underlying inequality.

“COVID deaths are disproportionately spiking in Black + Brown communities,” Ocasio-Cortez expressed her outrage in a Tweet last Friday. “Why? Because the chronic toll of redlining, environmental racism, wealth gap, etc. ARE underlying health conditions,” the Bronx-born lawmaker added. Inequality is a comorbidity. COVID relief should be drafted with a lens of reparations.”

Michelle Obama’s Support For First Responders Amid Pandemic Is Why We Need Her For President

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Michelle Obama’s Support For First Responders Amid Pandemic Is Why We Need Her For President

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The Queen Mother of the United States is back with some great advice.

The former First Lady recently took to Twitter to encourage her legions of followers to show some gratitude and love for the health care workers and other emergency personnel exposing them to great risk at hospitals and medical facilities during the current coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, the former first lady, 56, encouraged her Twitter followers to show appreciation for the work that is being done to save lives as the virus continues to infect millions of people across the globe.

“If you’re feeling as grateful to––and in awe of––our first responders as I am, now is the time to let them know,” Obama wrote in a post showing photos of handwritten letters being sent to healthcare providers. “A handwritten letter, a social media post, or a simple ‘thank you’ text can go a long way in showing our appreciation for these heroes among us.”

Earlier this month, Obama’s husband Barack Obama reminded Twitter users that “We owe a profound debt of gratitude to all our health professionals and everybody who’ll be on the front lines of this pandemic for a long while. They’re giving everything. May we all model our own behavior on their selflessness and sacrifice as we help each other through this.”

Of course, it’s not the first time Michelle Obama has offered encouragement that was inspiring.

Michelle Obama has always been a woman who keeps it real, particularly when it comes to the sexism women experience on a daily basis. In a conversation at the Obama Foundation’s Inaugural Summit, Obama dropped some knowledge on how families often inadvertently raise entitled boys and men. In a conversation she held alongside poet Elizabeth Alexander, Obama hit families with some hard questions about their role in creating toxic masculinity, and Latinas were totally there for it.

During the summit, Obama asked families to look at the way they raise their sons and recognize how that contributes to a world where men and women are not treated as equals.

The former First Lady pointed out that when families raise their sons and daughters differently, they ultimately end up rearing boys who turn into men that inherently believe they deserve special treatment and exploit others. “I think we pay for that a little bit and that’s a ‘we’ thing because we are raising them. And it’s powerful to have strong men but what does that strength mean?” she asked. “Does it mean respect? Does it mean responsibility? Does it mean compassion? Or are we protecting our men too much, so they feel a little entitled?”

If you’re interested in sending gratitude to healthcare providers, there’s an easy way to do so online!

Many hospitals are allowing people to submit notes online. Recently UChicago Medicine shared a form on their website that gives people an opportunity to send a message to their frontline medical workers.