As Us

A Space for Writers of the World

Ashley Tsosie-Mahieu—Fiction

The Us and the Them

You say, “You know what I’m talkin’ about? There needs to be more of us in leadership positions. We need more of us making the bigger decisions, not just a couple of us voicing opinions here and there, mostly for justification of their views of us. Our perspectives need to be included. We need to be in the conversations from the beginning to the end. Consistently. That’s the next step.”

Without hesitation or rumination, he sneers, “What about me?”

You stow away that overdramatic eye-roll, immediately transitioning to poker face, “This isn’t about you.”

“Do I have this perspective you speak of?”

He who has only been interacting with people like you for the last sixth of his life, absolutely not, does he really think you’re going to validate an usness he doesn’t have? “No.”

“Well does [insert name of relatively well-known mutual acquaintance whose usness he is questioning and thus their authority for speaking for us] have this perspective?”

“Yes,” steady-voiced and stern-faced, because you have to show people you’re serious. You have to exaggerate seriousness because you’re often not afforded the ability to be complex, especially in them spaces.

He scoffs, “Do you think you have this perspective?”

With furrowed brow you voice an earnest “yes,” resisting the false impulse of having to explain, perhaps themsplain, yourself.

He scoffs again.

You feel the heaviness of those times back in high school when you weren’t us enough or them enough to be accepted into the “us” or the “them.” You recall that time when your best friend questioned at which point you decided to get involved with your us, because somehow it’s a choice and “that’s not like you.” And you remember that abusive tyrant who consistently bullied you by questioning, “What kind of us does this? What kind of us does that? What kind of us is from [insert place where us-es aren’t supposed to be from]?”

You put your hand up. “This conversation is over.”

He continues fumbling over words he loves to hear himself say. You look off into the distance and his voice fades in with all the others, into a cacophony of themness.


Ashley Tsosie-Mahieu is a citizen of the Navajo Nation. She is Honágháahnii (One Who Walks Around Clan) born for biligáana (White Man). Her maternal grandfather is Ashiihi (Salt Clan) and her paternal grandfather is biligáana (White Man). Ashley is a PhD student in the American Indian Studies Department at the University of Arizona. Her short works of fiction have appeared in Literary Orphans and RED INK: A Native American Student Publication. Ashley was the guest editor of the eighth issue of Literary Orphans titled “Maria Tallchief”, which highlighted Native American fiction writers, photographers, and poets. She continues to serve as a fiction reader and reviewer for Literary Orphans.

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Issue 3February 14th, 2014
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