Can we laugh through this?

By Andru McCracken


I overheard an interview with Grace Dillon about Indigenous Futurism. Dillon, a professor from Portland State University, coined the phrase for the act of imagining First Nations in the future. The interview subject blew mind, but what was peculiar about it was that Dillon laughed after every statement she made. It wasn’t sarcastic, but a hearty fun-loving laugh. It was confusing and at the same time beguiling. While most of what she said was interesting, it wasn’t a joke.

In fact the material she was talking was underscored by a sad history and present state of affairs. As it turns out most of us and the popular culture we are a part of consign First Nations to the past. We don’t think about First Nations in the future because we consider them an artifact (and also a reminder of the colonial experience and residential schools, a history that can’t fade fast enough for most of us). Dillon held my attention while speaking to me about an idea I had never thought about before and challenged beliefs that I didn’t know I had.

Laughing through the interview with CBC’s Unreserved host Rosanna Deerchild, Dillon brought my attention to a new idea and changed my mind. This unassuming professor had something to offer and without so much as a bristle.

Did the laughter set me at ease? Even though it seemed out of place at times, I can’t help but feel it let me get my guard down and take in something new.

I wonder if Dillon is on to a way to communicate difficult ideas and I wonder if her laughing good natured discourse holds some keys to moving our communities and villages forward into the awesome future they deserve.

Could it be that good natured laughter could help us communicate complex or unfamiliar ideas? Could it help us find and examine unconsciously held biases?

If so it’d be a wonder for our communities.

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