Anonymous asked: As a Native Studies minor in University, I can assure you that I am well aware of their culture. Someone said that where I live is mostly white people, but my towns percentage of indigenous people lies at 64%. I'm not saying racism against them doesn't disgust me, because it certainly exists and I stand against it. But when I specifically get targeted by an indigenous person identifying me as a "white girl", "white bitch" and threatening me literally after only SMILING AT THEM. That's a problem
And having a Native Studies minor doesn’t give you a pass to judge people on the basis of race, either. Especially Natives. One could even argue that you should know better, but a degree from any university let alone a minor doesn’t mean one is open minded or enlightened and we recognize that. I don’t think we’re seeing the whole picture here. I’ve heard stories like this before. It’s reminiscent of ones told by white people who live in Rez border towns, which are often extremely prejudice against Natives. Somehow Natives are violent criminals or drunks or mean to white people, when the entire town actively oppresses Natives and excludes them and held a lynching or 2 in the past. Our culture is more than a few pictures in a textbook. We recognize when people are disingenuous, looking down their noses at us, or just plain tourists. If you think we’re so terrible, perhaps just leave us alone. We owe you nothing.
To the Anon in the ask: I’m white too. Let me tell you a story.
I grew up in Arizona with white parents who were school teachers by profession. We moved around a lot because they took a lot of seasonal work in the summers and taught in Reservation schools during the year. I lived on and off the Hualapai Rez, Big Mountain, and a couple of other reservations. When I was little and living in Peach Springs, some of the Hualapai kids would spit on me and call me names when I crossed the playground. It was a horrible experience that I didn’t understand at the time.
When I was off at college I started researching the intersections between my parents and my white cultural background and the cultures and experiences of the Peoples I’d grown up around, I discovered something very, very important that helped me appropriately contextualize what I’d experienced growing up.
When Native people harass or curse at white people, their anger is completely justified. It is justified when it’s directed at you, or at me as a kid. Yes, really.
There is nothing in your personal history that can even begin to approach the horror that white people in North America have visited upon and continue to visit upon Native peoples. My inheritance as a white US citizen is the legacy of white supremacy, of hundreds of years of calculating genocide, the systematic kidnapping and abuse of children, the theft of resources and land and culture and languages, the continuing desecration of sacred items and spaces, the ongoing rapes and murders of indigenous women, and yes, the well-earned hatred of some people who look at my skin and know what it has meant for many generations.
The inheritances of Native peoples in this country are none of my business, not unless I’m personally invited to be present (this includes spaces and cultures I was raised in proximity to and boy did it take me a good few years to get over that particular sense of entitlement). No one Native owes me anything. I owe Native people respect, particularly because I have the incredible privilege of being white in a white supremacist society, and there isn’t anything that can erase that power imbalance short of the complete overthrow of that system of oppression.
I do have my own inheritance, like I said above, and my own struggle, and that’s the fight against racism and white supremacy. It means being quiet in Native spaces and keeping my words on Native issues to myself unless it’s to signal boost Native people who are already speaking. Largely it mean educating and checking myself for the rest of my life and getting in a lot of arguments with my fellow white people about cultural appropriation, the nonexistence of “reverse racism”, and the whitewashed vision most of us have of US history. It means constantly working to get my facts straight within a mainstream culture that was designed and built on the lie that white is better, that Native people and cultures are conquests bound for museum display cases, that the days of cultural genocide are over, that there’s nothing left for us white people to do but sit back and enjoy our shopping bags full of Urban Outfitters and feel weird about how our relatives root for the Washington *******s.
Your University minor isn’t a “Good White Person” badge, Anon. You’re asking the wrong questions and getting mad about the wrong things. The internet is at your disposal, and there are a thousand ways to learn about the legacy of white supremacy and checking your privilege, and about the history of this “them” you wrote to lastrealindians about. Don’t take my word for it though:
HERE is also a great list of links from the wtfwhiteprivilege tumblr that they’ve been kind enough to put together for the well-intentioned white person. I sincerely hope you check these out, because it sounds like there were some serious gaps in your University classes.