In his book, “Racism in Indian Country,” Chavers rails a case presented by CERA for doing away with tribal sovereignty, writing that CERA members include third- and fourth-generation descendants of people who profited from acquiring Indian lands in the past and “can’t stand the idea that Indians would get some land back, no matter how it happens.”Funny how different people can see things so differently, isn't it?
Because I don't see CERA as being racist at all.
But I do remember when a member of the group CERA (Citizens Equal Rights Alliance) came to Middleboro to speak at the infamous Glenn Marshall forum, and later to concerned locals at meetings of the grassroots organization CasinoFacts.org.
And a then-sitting selectman, who shall remain nameless unless you want to click on this link, warned the group's leadership that CERA was a racist organization.
The town's Indian Gaming Laywer also tried to paint CERA as racist at a big public forum.
And the message was crystal clear: CERA was a hate group. And any group or individual taking advice from CERA was dangerously canoodling with a despicable racist organization, and for all intents might be considered racist too.
We would be well-advised, therefore, should we want to avoid, wink wink, any bad publicity, nudge nudge, against associating ourselves with the likes of CERA.
...Oh, and did we mention inevitability, again?
And so, in a decision I disagreed with, our group kept it's formal distance from CERA.
Here's the thing, though. That selectman, and the Indian-gaming lawyer - they weren't exactly impartial, either. And they didn't always tell the truth - especially when it mattered.
But they did teach me something - why some people in positions of power or influence lie.
They do it because they think you're stupid. They think you're afraid and weak and you won't bother to question the facts or find answers to the questions yourself. And heck, a lot of people fall right in line.
CERA, on the other hand, and much to their credit, believed we were smarter than we actually were.
They just kept laying out the reasons why things weren't as inevitable as we might think, then waited for us to figure it out on our own.
In fact, in light of being outspent and out-lobbied and out-lied for over twenty years, CERA consistently offers only the facts, the laws, the reality and the unbelievable yet sickeningly true stories you sure as hell weren't going to hear anywhere else.
Together they formed a nation-wide network of self-educated activists.
And back when we we were swimming in a sea of sharks, CERA offered us a life jacket of truth.
I've never witnessed a racist moment in their presence.
Instead I found wickedly smart, quietly brave, hard-working, passionate people. I found people moved, not by the petty greed that fuels so many in this pathetic morass, but by the outrage that should spark a fire in any American who watches their laws and Constitution, the public trust and the fabric of their everyday life twisted like some damp dishrag to wring out the last cent of profit for private gain.
I found an honest, dignified group of people who, rather than perseverate on the same pack of lies as their opponents, were willing, despite great personal hardships and every possible obstacle in their path, to pursue the truth all the way to the Supreme Court.
And so sure, I can see why some people might just hate that.
So you just keep calling CERA racist if you want, Mr. Chavers. I have no doubt that someone out there is willing to listen.