Mother outraged by letter

Published 7:01 am Wednesday, January 23, 2002

By Staff
I am writing this in response to Ms. Rhonda English of Atmore who wrote to the editor concerning my son and myself.
I am completely outraged that this woman would write about us in such a manner as to suggest that Kris is not a respectful, responsible and well behaved young man because of his having long hair, earrings and a tongue ring, also implying that I am not a loving and caring mother because I support my son in his decision to pierce his ears and grow his hair as is done in our culture and support him in having his tongue pierced as he wanted.
Ms. English's attitude towards his hair and earrings is the attitude that has kept our people oppressed for hundreds of years. Hers is the attitude that has put our ancestors children in the Carlile School that made them cut their hair, not be allowed to speak their native languages and practice their (and our) religion for fear of beatings by the fanatics that ran the school. Hers is the attitude borne of ignorance that has survived for hundreds of years like cockroaches have survived for thousands. No matter how much you try to rid the world of them, they survive.
It is time this attitude is brought out of the backwoods and closets and burned for the trash it is. You should realize there are still some of us in this world practicing our traditions, culture and way of life that narrow-minded people could not begin to understand.
As Native Americans long hair, tattoos, language, traditions and culture is a part of our world, a part of our everyday life as traditionalists that you in no way could begin to understand with a closed mind. I, for one, would expect no more from someone like you.
Being traditionalist we have seen and battled this everyday of our lives. To this day people in our tribe in Louisiana are still called the derogatory term "Sabine" by people like you. Some people here in Atmore call us traditionalists at the Ceremonial Grounds at Poarch "witches" because of the way we worship the creator. This is a total outrage that I and my family will tolerate any longer.
It is a wonderful thing to know who your ancestors were, where you came from to practice your culture and traditions in the way your ancestors have done for thousands of years. We are a proud people. We have Houma, Muskogee and Scottish blood. Ours is a bloodline that has always had to fight for what is our birthright. We are of blood that will never give in to the likes of you. So we will be accepted into your culture, but we have our own culture, too.
What you need to remember is we have laid down and accepted what has been imposed on us. As for me and my family we will do that no more. Enough is enough!
Now to answer your question: "If the tongue ring was not a distraction then how did anyone know it was there?" Had you read what the article said instead of seeing and hearing bits and pieces you would know Kris' coach and teacher knew before he went back to school that he was having it done when he returned to school. On that Monday he told him not to do it. Kris had to inform him it was too late. It was a distraction because he was sent from class and suspended not because it was seen. This, as you said, was not a rule because it was not in county or school guidelines.
As for the type of young man Kris is and kind of mother I am, all you have to do is ask those who know us for the truth. As for Buck Powell, there is no way I will ever honor a man who is so condescending and looked down on us as if he were of a superior class.
I was not going to push this issue any further than I already have, but after reading your letter it infuriated me so that I will fight to the death for what is my child's and my people's right and the right to do with our bodies as we please.
We are more adamant about this fight than ever before, Mrs. Rhonda English, for you are the epitome of why we started this fight in the beginning, and we will carry it to the bitter end. Your letter reminded me of the narrow-mindedness that exists. I thank you.
And while I am thinking of it, if it were not my son enlisting his football teammates, cheerleaders and his step-brothers in N.J.R.O.T.C., the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund would be over $1,000 poorer. It was he who came up with the idea to raise money for them. He is an honor student, football player, takes dance lessons at school and at the Y.M.C.A. and is an award winning artist for his drawings.
Can you say the same, Ms. English?
Kris Runyon's mother, Angela Carter-Frye

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