June 14, 2015

Churchill, Depp, Warren, and Dolezal

Rachel Dolezal, Blackface and Pretendians

By Ruth HopkinsUnfortunately, Ms. Dolezal is not the first Caucasian to claim native heritage with absolutely no proof or legitimate connection to native peoples. There’s been an epidemic of intellectual and spiritual redface in this country ever since they stopped massacring natives outright, and Hollywood, along with new agers, ushered in an era of native romanticism. Plastic shamans, drunk festival goers in headdresses, savage grinning mascots, and buckskin panty clad pocahotties followed in their wake.

Perhaps grade school lessons led these posers to believe that Indigenous genocide was complete, so it was safe to assume our identity, or the theft of our lands, resources, women and children wasn’t enough to fill the void created by the assimilation that was demanded of their own European ancestors who freely entered the colonial melting pot, and the only thing left to steal was our cultural identity. Either way, pretenders continue to take on native personas when it is advantageous, by making them appear more ‘exotic,’ or to vouch for racist mascots or gain access to the sacred.

We Oceti Sakowin (Sioux) call them wasicu. Fat takers.

They want to take everything, but the burden.

A little more than a century ago, pretending to be black or native could’ve meant death, just by virtue of being mistaken for being that race. In recent decades, pretending to be native meant you were sentenced to crushing oppression, poverty, and your children being shipped off to boarding school or foster care, if they survived infancy.

One can’t help but wonder if Rachel Dolezal would have pretended to be black +100 years ago when she couldn’t profit from it.
Some tweets on the subject:Kim TallBear @KimTallBear
‪#‎RachelDolezal‬ is big news. but it happens so often to Natives that Circe Sturm wrote a book about "Becoming Indian" https://t.co/GPD5G4omzQ

Sherman Alexie @Sherman_Alexie
After ‪#‎RachelDolezal‬ mess, fake Indians across USA are canceling this weekend's tanning bed & black hair dye appts.

Kim TallBear ‏@KimTallBear
#racheldolezal uses distant bio ancestry to make identity claim. "We’re all from..African continent." Sound familiar? http://huff.to/1L2HGfH
Comment:  As I tweeted in response to TallBear:

True! My ancestors also came from Africa 2 million years ago. I'm available if the NAACP needs a new chapter head. #Blacklikeme #WereallAfricans

The cases of Ward Churchill, Johnny Depp, and Elizabeth Warren are similar if not identical. Each of them claimed Native heritage "with absolutely no proof or legitimate connection to Native peoples." Therefore, they all belong in this posting.

For more on the subject, see Making Sense of Rachel Dolezal and White Woman Pretends to Be Black, Native.

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