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A Mind Spread Out on the Ground di Alicia…
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A Mind Spread Out on the Ground (originale 2019; edizione 2020)

di Alicia Elliott (Autore)

UtentiRecensioniPopolaritàMedia votiCitazioni
1674130,414 (4.31)6
"A bold and profound work by Haudenosaunee writer Alicia Elliott, A Mind Spread Out on the Ground is a personal and critical meditation on trauma, legacy, oppression and racism in North America. In an urgent and visceral work that asks essential questions about Native people in North America while drawing on intimate details of her own life and experience with intergenerational trauma, Alicia Elliott offers indispensable insight and understanding to the ongoing legacy of colonialism. What are the links between depression, colonialism and loss of language--both figurative and literal? How does white privilege operate in different contexts? How do we navigate the painful contours of mental illness in loved ones without turning them into their sickness? How does colonialism operate on the level of literary criticism? A Mind Spread Out on the Ground is Alicia Elliott's attempt to answer these questions and more. In the process, she engages with such wide-ranging topics as race, parenthood, sexuality, love, mental illness, poverty, sexual assault, gentrification, writing and representation. Elliott makes connections both large and small between the past and present, the personal and political--from overcoming a years-long history with head lice to the way Native writers are treated within the Canadian literary industry; her unplanned teenage pregnancy to the history of dark matter and how it relates to racism in the court system; her childhood diet of Kraft dinner to how systematic oppression is linked to depression in Native communities. With deep consideration and searing prose, Elliott extends far beyond her own experiences to provide a candid look at our past, an illuminating portrait of our present and a powerful tool for a better future."--… (altro)
Utente:doryfish
Titolo:A Mind Spread Out on the Ground
Autori:Alicia Elliott (Autore)
Info:Melville House (2020), 256 pages
Collezioni:La tua biblioteca
Voto:****
Etichette:ebooks, libby, 2020-faves, 2020-releases, essays, nonfiction

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A Mind Spread Out on the Ground di Alicia Elliott (2019)

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Mostra 4 di 4
Excellent collections of thoughtful essays! Highly recommended. ( )
  echinops | Aug 18, 2021 |
Maybe I expected too much from Alicia Elliott’s memoir A Mind Spread Out on the Ground. Maybe it’s my fault that I found the book so frustrating and, in the end, more confusing than enlightening. I wanted (still do want) to learn more about how North America’s indigenous people live today and whether the reservation system has been overall a good or a bad thing for them. As it turns out, this is not the book to answer that kind of question despite Elliott’s complaints that whites do not bother to wonder what their lives are like today.

A Mind Spread Out on the Ground is a memoir centered on the dysfunctional family that Alicia Elliot had the misfortune to grow up in. Elliot, whose mother is a white Catholic and whose father is a Canadian Mohawk, grew up in a home where her mother was institutionalized once or twice a year on average when the mentally ill woman’s bipolar depression became too much for Elliot’s father to handle. What the author so frankly reveals about her childhood is as disturbing as it is sad: the constant hunger, living largely on whatever junk food was available, a case of head lice that lasted more than a decade, being accepted by neither whites nor indigenous schoolmates, etc., but what she describes is a function of poverty not exclusive to indigenous Americans or Canadians.

As readers learn, this is largely a book about depression and those who suffer from it either directly or indirectly. The book’s title, in fact, is a translation of a Mohawk phrase for depression in which such a person is described as having a mind “literally stretched or sprawled out on the ground.” According to Elliott, indigenous people suffer disproportionately from depression, and that is because of the colonialism her people are still suffering from to this day. And, she says, until her people “decolonize” their minds, the problem will not go away.

Even so, Elliott does not seem to expect all that much, for instance, to result from today’s efforts to make the publishing world more obviously reflect real-world diversity because “diversity is a white word.” As she puts it in a quote attributed to a Tania Canas essay of that title:

Diversity is about making sense of difference “through the white lens…by creating and demanding palatable definitions of ‘diversity’ but only in relation to what this means in terms of whiteness.”

Elliott says, “That is the crucial problem with the push for ‘diversity’ in publishing…’diversity’ is not about letting those who aren’t white make whatever art matters to them and their communities.” She goes on to say that, “It’s the literary equivalent of ‘ethnic’ restaurants: they please white people because they provide them with ‘exotic’ new flavours, but if they don’t appease white people’s sensitive taste buds they’re not worth a damn.”

Alicia Elliott’s frustration and anger is obvious in her words, attitude, and accusations even when she momentarily turns her biting sense of humor on herself to make a point about how her childhood memories are different from those of most people, “…my childhood itches. This makes sense, since I had head lice for over a decade. My relationship with head lice was, until recently, the longest relationship I’d ever had.”

The book’s anger is understandable when one considers the generational impact of Canada’s and America’s genocidal approach to their indigenous peoples. The despair and low self-expectations passed from one generation to the next, according to Elliott, continue to plague these people. And she is angered that those who even acknowledge that “awful things” were done in the past expect people like her to forgive and move on with their lives. I’m not convinced she is right about that, but I can understand why she believes it. ( )
1 vota SamSattler | Dec 12, 2020 |
These invaluable, honest, #OwnVoices essays methodically trace the source of many of the problems faced by Native communities today, and how white governments (Canada, U.S.) continue to oppress instead of lift up. Sobering and necessary.

Quotes

In a better world, one that didn't treat my dark-skinned relatives with violence and indignity and death for the way they looked, I would have been able to long for my child to have the thick, black hair and deep-brown skin my family members have without feeling fear. I would have been able to be disappointed that I didn't see visible reminders of my family line peeking through in my child. I wanted to be able to be disappointed. (24)

"Diversity...[is about making sense of difference] through the white lens...by creating, curating and demanding palatable definitions of 'diversity' but only in relation to what this means in terms of whiteness." (quoting Tania Canas, "Diversity is a White Word," 32).

...it is possible to both have empathy for a person and still hold inherited, unacknowledged racist views about them and their worth. How else do you explain the Canadian government's apology for residential schools and pleas for reconciliation coexisting with its continued, purposeful underfunding of Indigenous children? ...Clearly having empathy is not dependent upon understanding the social, political and historical circumstances that made that empathy necessary in the first place. (35)

Some things don't matter when a white man does them. (61)

To these people, the only words, actions or thoughts that can be considered real racism are those they can't be blamed for. (73-74)

Racism, for many people, seems to occupy space in very much the same way as dark matter: it forms the skeleton of our world, yet remains ultimately invisible, undetectable. This is convenient. If nothing is racism, then nothing needs to be done to address it. (77)

Our parents were far from perfect, but their main barriers to being better parents were poverty, intergenerational trauma and mental illness - things neither social workers nor police have ever been equipped to address, yet are both allowed, even encouraged, to patrol. (94-95)

["neglect" is another word for poverty]...social services conflates not being able to afford adequate housing, good, clothing and health care with choosing not to have adequate housing, good, clothing and health care. Instead of supporting poor families and helping them become financially secure, social services' approach is to simply take the kids. (95)

America's food industry is highly unethical, even cruel. [Robert Kenner's 2008 documentary Food, Inc.] (103)

The reason junk food is so much cheaper than nutritious food is the U.S. government...[which] subsidizes..."cash crops": wheat, corn, and soybeans....
Since empty calories are both cheap and widely available, it should be no surprise that the biggest indicator of obesity is a person's income level. And since so many Western countries are built on white supremacy, it should also come as no surprise that the biggest indicator of poverty is race. (105)

This is how you can tell white supremacy is functioning the way it's supposed to: because white people are the standard by which all others are measured. If white people are the ones who are "normal," that means racialized people are by default "abnormal." (107)

[Genocide:] First, remove the means for the people to independently look after and support themselves and their community. Next, force them to become dependent on the very state that wants to destroy them. Withhold basic necessities. Wait. (114)

Colonial success has always depended on Indigenous destruction. (115)

Haudenosaunee have always believed in the principle of the seven generations. When you make a decision, you must consciously think about what effects that decision could have on your descendants seven generations in the future. This world does not belong to you; you are merely borrowing it from the coming faces. Epigenetics seems to replicate that philosophy on the genetic level. (118)

Instead of looking at the horrors Canada has inflicted upon us and linking them to our current health issues, Canada has chosen to blame our biology....This is how a once thriving, healthy population comes to be "inherently unhealthy." (121)

Capitalism forever positions itself as the solution to the problem of capitalism. Colonialism forever positions itself as the solution to the problem of colonialism. (124-125)

...as though showing human emotion makes us somehow less than human. (140)

[My mother's] personality eclipsed her features. (145)

Writer and photographer Teju Cole writes that [Jimmy] Nelson "is sentimental about those he photographs and often proclaims their beauty, but having invested himself so deeply in the idea of their 'disappearance,' he is unable to believe that they are not going anywhere, that they are simply adapting to the modern world." (164)

The bare minimum we should expect photographers to impose on their subjects is respect. (174)

Capitalism always relies upon exploitation to create profit, and therefore it must always rely upon differing valuations of people's humanity. (179)

But in the most literal sense, fiction is a lie, even when it reveals essential truths....It's expected that writers borrow from their own lives and experiences to create more realistic fiction - or more compelling lies, whichever you prefer. (195)

It's not hard to see a correlation between the falseness of reality TV and the recent rise of fake news. (206)

We're living in a time where truth is less valuable than attention. (208)

If we can't even get abusers to acknowledge the ways they're abusing others, how can we ever end abuse? (225)

...the U.S. and Canadian governments remind me of one of those estranged parents that hangs out on message boards. They hurt people they claim to value, hurt people they don't value, then when those people finally decide they want nothing to do with the abusers anymore, they ask what they did wrong....our governments know very well what they did. What they continue to do. (235) ( )
  JennyArch | Oct 5, 2020 |
An emphatic 5* rating. Deeply moving, exceptionally well-written essays questioning the ever-present effects of colonialism on Indigenous peoples in North America and how colonialism / capitalism collide with / disrupt art, culture, mental health, a sense of belonging. I borrowed this from the library but it's now on my to-buy and favourites lists. ( )
1 vota Sonya_W | Feb 5, 2020 |
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Nome dell'autoreRuoloTipo di autoreOpera?Stato
Alicia Elliottautore primariotutte le edizionicalcolato
Drukman, MarinaProgetto della copertinaautore secondarioalcune edizioniconfermato
Oriolo, RichardDesignerautore secondarioalcune edizioniconfermato
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"A bold and profound work by Haudenosaunee writer Alicia Elliott, A Mind Spread Out on the Ground is a personal and critical meditation on trauma, legacy, oppression and racism in North America. In an urgent and visceral work that asks essential questions about Native people in North America while drawing on intimate details of her own life and experience with intergenerational trauma, Alicia Elliott offers indispensable insight and understanding to the ongoing legacy of colonialism. What are the links between depression, colonialism and loss of language--both figurative and literal? How does white privilege operate in different contexts? How do we navigate the painful contours of mental illness in loved ones without turning them into their sickness? How does colonialism operate on the level of literary criticism? A Mind Spread Out on the Ground is Alicia Elliott's attempt to answer these questions and more. In the process, she engages with such wide-ranging topics as race, parenthood, sexuality, love, mental illness, poverty, sexual assault, gentrification, writing and representation. Elliott makes connections both large and small between the past and present, the personal and political--from overcoming a years-long history with head lice to the way Native writers are treated within the Canadian literary industry; her unplanned teenage pregnancy to the history of dark matter and how it relates to racism in the court system; her childhood diet of Kraft dinner to how systematic oppression is linked to depression in Native communities. With deep consideration and searing prose, Elliott extends far beyond her own experiences to provide a candid look at our past, an illuminating portrait of our present and a powerful tool for a better future."--

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