By: Jordan Marie Brings Three White Horses Daniel
When you think of love – it’s something that is deep, a feeling of connection, protection, and compassion. Love shows up in many different forms and is different for those who have the lucky chance to experience love, to feel loved, and to share love with someone.
I am Native – Kul Wicasa Lakota and a member of the Lower Brule Indian Reservation. Growing up, I had a first-hand example of what a beautiful interracial marriage between my Ina (mother) and my Ate (father) looked like. They’ve been together since I was a few months old. Biologically, he wasn’t the guy who helped make me, but he’s been my dad since day 1 for me. It wasn’t until I was heading to my Coming of Age ceremony that I learned the truth (I mean, I had an idea but never questioned it), but it didn’t matter to me. He was my dad, he was white, and he is the best person and father I know. He supports my mom, our family and community endlessly. That’s what counted to me and why many on the reservation supported the relationship and even set up my parents for the first time.
As I grew up, and began to like men, I knew that my heart would fall for someone who would be there for me and had common interests, whether they were Native or not. There were a few good relationships that ended amicably but there were a couple incredibly toxic ones too (with white men and Native men). I’ve had to receive a lot of help to heal from the trauma that is still present today. Every day I am healing as that trauma continues to carry a weight on me into my present relationship. From those experiences, I learned a lot about myself and what I need from a relationship. I found that I was just settling – settling for someone with common interests (running, sports, and school). I also recognized that most of the men I dated were white, for there was a lack of diversity in the predominantly white community I grew up in. I realized my relationships were lacking depth and understanding. I found that an understanding of me, my own community, where I come from and how I was raised, was not important to them. During my first relationship in high school my boyfriend and I experienced racism and prejudice, mostly directed at him than me. This made me feel very insecure in high school – already during a time where you just want to fit in.
Jordan is the founder of Rising Hearts a community organization created to elevate Indigenous voices & causes predominantly through wellness and running.
Courtesy of @nativein_la on Instagram
As I began college and eventually, my post-collegiate running and professional career, I wanted to be with someone who was interested in my Indigeneity, cares about Unci Maka (Grandmother Earth), my family, climate and social justice, my running, my passions, and the communities I come from. This is what matters to me and I respect the interests and identity of my partner in the same way I expect them to value and respect mine. I raised my expectations, set a standard and really stood up for myself and what I at the very least, deserved. We all deserve to be in a supportive, reciprocal, respectful, and loving relationship, whether friendly or intimate.
In October 2018, I met the partner I am with today. He took me by surprise. He checked all the boxes and more. And he’s white. He understands my culture, he asks questions, he’s curious to know more so he knows how to support me, my family and my communities. He understands me more than I give him credit for. Where I used to feel shame with past partners about my traumas and experiences, my current partner gives me comfort and provides a safe place for me. I can feel goofy and be vulnerable with him. He knows how to handle my hangry moments, stressed moments, happy moments and more. He shows up for the things I organize and the communities I bring him to. He respectfully comes to those spaces to learn, to amplify our collective voices and experiences. He cares about our environment, the futures of our next generations, and will do whatever possible to support my relatives and friends in the community-organizing and advocacy spaces. I am so proud to be his partner, his roommate, and a pawrent to our 2 furbabies (MJ & Oreo). We travel everywhere together, experience so much together and he gets me excited to push myself outside my comfort zone and try new things. I respect all that he does as a storyteller, and this has brought us together further as we collaborate on film projects. We have so many beautiful moments that I want to share but I am selective about how I include him and our time together on my social media platforms. He’s always felt more comfortable behind a camera than in front and feels there are other voices more important than his own that need to be heard right now.
Jordan, her partner Devin, and their two cats, MJ & Oreo.
Courtesy of @nativein_la on Instagram
Recently I shared a photo of us on our isolated camping trip together in the snow. Something we love doing. I gave him appreciation and big credit for making 2020 (a hard year of loss, pain, trauma, and uncertainty) more enjoyable, fun, manageable, and exciting at times. He was there for me and I was there for him as we both experienced something we’d never thought would happen in our lifetime, but it was an experience that brought us together in a stronger way. I was proud and happy. A few hours later, I received a few comments that I was a disgrace, that I was perpetuating the genocide of our people, “How could you do this?”, some saying that I was fake, and it was wrong of me to be with a white man. Two out of the three comments came from Native men and I was honestly angry. Angry because they don’t know my partner and I feel incredibly protective of my partner. Sadly, this isn’t the first time I have experienced this lateral violence and racism while being in an interracial relationship. Even when I dated a Native man I received comments that he wasn’t Native enough or didn’t look Native. There is trauma that lives within our communities and I’m sure it is what’s behind their comments and what’s being projected onto my partner and I. I’ve had a chance to chat with many others with the same or similar stories. It wasn’t until 1967 that interracial marriage finally became legal! Richard and Mildred Loving set a precedent but a precedent that shouldn’t have had to be set for two people of different races wanting to be together. All of this is a dangerous ripple effect of colonization and white supremacy and it exists even within our own communities today. Loving someone shouldn’t be defined by race. Love is love - it’s powerful. We are in a time of intersectional growth, transformation, reformation, and healing.
I took a few moments to sit with those comments on our photo, choosing not to share with my partner immediately. Then I shared my reaction on social media. The support was OVERWHELMINGLY supportive and understanding. It was heartbreaking to read the responses from so many others that had received similar comments and experiences. They described the racism that they still experience from within their families or communities. As hard of an experience this was, it was nice to be able to chat with them about theirs and mine. It gave me some peace in knowing that I’m not alone and we offered our support for one another. That’s community. And I love it.
It doesn’t matter who you love, it matters why you love them. I love my partner for who he is, what he does, how he shows up for me and our partnership. Obviously it helps when your parents love him and MJ and Oreo approve too! My advice – love who you love. Be in it for the right reasons. Accept that when you say yes to love, you are saying yes to the potential hurt that may come. Hopefully it doesn’t! Everyone deserves to love and be loved. When you find that person, that partner – hold tight, love madly, support each other, and never let go (figuratively – not literally…. don’t be like Rose in the Titanic). I’m here for you all! Be a good relative. Mitakuye Oyasin – all my relations.
Jordan & Devin hugging at sunset.
Courtesy of @nativein_la on Instagram