Raznor's Rants

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Blog Against Racism Day
Posted by Raznor

So, it's Blog Against Racism day. I spent a while this week thinking about what I can bring to the table. I'm white as a ghost, and I've lived my whole life in parts of the country with relatively small black populations - most of my life in Flagstaff, my first 8 years in Eugene, college in Portland, and of course one semester in Budapest. Nor have I lived, unlike Amanda, in parts of the country where I hear much overt racism.

But what I can add is something that I think often gets left out of the picture, which is how racism affects Native Americans. I'm probably the only person I know who rarely refers to people as Native American, because there is such a cultural diversity among the Native American tribes, I think of it insulting to decide that Lakota, and Navajo, and Apache and Cherokee get lumped together like they're just one big - well - lump.

Flagstaff is very close to the Navajo and Hopi reservations, so whenever I speak about Native Americans, usually I relate to those particular cultures. When I think of recent oppression of Native Americans, I think of how the Navajo language helped us win World War II, and how, less than 20 years later, the government began forcing Navajo kids into boarding schools, away from their families, and punished them if they dared speak Navajo. It's a nice bit of White Man's Burden racism that the Aborigine people faced in Australia.

When I think of opression, also, I think of how it's always glossed over that America had a policy of genocide in regards to the Native American people in the 19th century. There is really nothing else to call it. During the Indian Wars, a general called on all patriotic Americans to kill as many buffalo as they could find, because, essentially, dead buffalo meant dead Indians. By the 1890's it was fully believed that the policy of genocide was successful, and there'd be no more Native Americans within 20 years. That's when people felt guilt for the whole thing. Nice timing there.

I think of how many times I have to counter people who complain about these "drunken indians", blaming the fact that the Reservation is the poorest place in the state on their laziness, selfishness, and drunkenness. I think of how I have to remind these people of the brutal oppression these people have been facing since Europeans first invaded their continent.

I think of how there's all this talk in the punditry about how great it would be for a Hispanic Supreme Court Justice. It would be great, but notice no one seems to think there should be a Native American Supreme Court Justice. I think how the Native Americans have become the invisible race. I think of Chief Wahoo, and of the Tomohawk Chop, the fact that it's perfectly acceptable to have team names like the Redskins, or the Chiefs, and all the fucking idiots who made the NCAA's ban on mocking Native American mascots controversial.

That is all.

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