When I received Gyasi’s piece, I thought long and hard about how to respond.
His piece felt a bit like a slap – exactly how were we supposed to evaluate Queen Chief Warhorse’s credentials on the fly, especially after she had been vetted as a speaker by an organization intent on working locally with organizations that impact their communities? Why would we doubt her, just based on her face? I know it’s been quite a few years, but Racialicious started as a blog called Mixed Media Watch, which spent a lot of time exploring how phenotypes can be deceiving. It wasn’t so long ago that Addicted to Race boasted a “racial spy” section, which featured mixed race people recounting stories of receiving stereotypes intended for others. So we would never, ever question someone’s identity on phenotype alone. If we did that, we would have challenged Brandann for not looking properly Indian instead of just letting her tell her story.
However, Gyasi is correct – there are many, many people who have claimed to speak for Indian Country who have fabricated their identities, and we need to denounce those who would use an indigenous identity to seek profit for themselves. But are the answers so cut and dry to the point where they should be immediately obvious to all outside of the various nations? Over the years at Racialicious, we’ve come across many places in which someone’s heritage has been declared false. And each time, we try to figure out how to proceed. But the truth isn’t always easy to understand – and questions of identity are far more complicated than the Young Black Teenagers publicity stunt.
From Peggy Seltzer to Tinsel Corey, from Taylor Lautner to Cher, and from Princess Pale Moon to Andrea Smith, public proclamations of Native identity are often swiftly challenged and debated. So let’s examine the ones who made headlines, and then apply what we’ve learned to Queen Chief Warhorse. Continue reading →
Three ships on the horizon. What do they bring? Many today are proud that the Niña,, the Pinta, and the Santa María – which brought Christopher Columbus and his men to Cuba on Oct. 28, 1492, on their first trip to the Americas – also carried with them European scientific advances and the richness of a culture more than 1,000 years old. Others see Spain’s coming to the Americas as disastrous: It made an empire wealthy off the backs of indigenous tribes and enslaved Africans whose families were torn apart and who died of overwork and European diseases. But perhaps there’s middle ground to consider. Honor those who died and acknowledge the good, bad, and ugly of our beginnings – for, like it or not, out of that violent mash-up of cultures, ambitions, and wills, Latinos and Latin culture were born. And above all, be proud of our accomplishments, especially since at some point in the histories of all our countries, we took the reigns of our own destiny.
— “Birth of a Culture” by Damarys Ocaña, published in Latina October 2009.
Editor’s Note: The episode discussed in this piece aired about a year ago, but as Jon and Kate’s marriage publicly disintegrates while many onlookers wonder what will happen to the children, this issue seems worth a bit of discussion. – LDP
This year has no doubt been a trying one for Jon and Kate Gosselin. Not only did the couple file for divorce but also the rumor mill linked Jon to a slew of young hotties and Kate to her beefy bodyguard. Given this, it seems hard to believe that just last year the Gosselins appeared by all means to be one very big happy family. Take the “Korean Dinner” episode which debuted July 2008. In it, Jon—whose father is French and Welsh and mother is Korean—tries to teach his children about their Asian heritage. Unfortunately, Jon, along with Kate, does a pretty abysmal job in educating the children about culture.
For starters, the first scene from the episode is of Kate bowing in stereotypical fashion. Moreover, when discussing the ingredients needed for his Korean dinner, Jon assumes a stereotypical accent. “Ancient Chinese recipe,” he says as if he were Mickey Rooney playing Mr. Yunioshi in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” To make matters worse, Kate assumes the same mock accent later on.