Do you know what it's like to have your race belittled, and to come to learn that you are only a burden to the country? Maybe we did not have the skills to make a meaningful contribution, but nobody would wait for us. We were shoved aside, because we were dumb and could not learn.
Do you know what it is like to be without pride in your race, pride in your family, pride and confidence in yourself? What is it like? You do not know. You have never tasted its bitterness.
I shall tell you what it is like. It is like not caring for tomorrow, because what does tomorrow matter? It is like having a reserve that looks like a junk yard, because the beauty of the soul is dead and why should the soul express an external beauty that does not match it? It is like getting drunk, and for a few brief moments escaping from the ugly reality and feeling a sense of importance. It is most of all like awakening the next morning to the guilt of betrayal because the alcohol did not fill the emptiness, but only dug it deeper.
And now you hold out your hand and you beckon to me to come across the street. But how can I come? I am naked and ashamed. How can I come in dignity? I have no treasures, I have no gifts. What is there in my culture that you value? My poor treasures you can only scorn. Am I then to come as a beggar and receive all from your omnipotent hand?
No! Somehow I must wait. I must delay. I must find myself, I must find my treasure. Then I can say to my wife and to my family, "Listen: they are calling me; they need me. I must come." Then I can walk across the street and I will hold my head high for I can meet you as an equal. I will not scorn you for your demon gifts and you will not receive me in pity. Pity I can do without. My manhood I cannot do without. I can only come as Chief Capalano came to Captain Vancouver: one sure of his authority, certain of his worth, master of his house, leader of his people.
I shall not come as a cringing object of your pity. I shall come in dignity, or I shall not come at all. And now you talk big words of integration. Does it really exist? Can we talk of integration until there is social integration? Unless there is integration in hearts and minds, you only have a physical presence and the walls are as high as the mountain tops. Come with me to the playgrounds of an integrated high school. See how ugly and flat the blacktop is. Now listen. The bell rings; it is recess time. The doors open, and the students pour out of the doors. Soon over there is a group of white students, and over there by the fence is a group of native students. But now look; the blacktop is no longer there.
Mountain ranges rising, valleys falling and a great chasm is opening up between the two groups: yours and mine. And no one seems to be capable of crossing over. Why? God in heaven, why? Why?