So I need to address this, from my perspective as a White-coded Metis. I come from a family that continues to live in our territory (outside of myself and one cousin we are all still there). There were many in my extended family who passed as White to avoid racism; there are some in my family who take self-hatred to all sorts of levels and treat their fellow native people like shit; and there are those who stayed true to who they are despite all the crap. So that whole tangle is represented where I come from, including the knots of adoptions, muddled histories, confused lines etc. All of us from out there are still rediscovering our real histories, because they have been so invalidated by colonial structures for so long; though a large part of that rediscovering means simply putting faith in what our Elders have been telling us all along, without having to hear it from some White academic.
I understand that it is easier to be accepted as native when you look a certain way, both in terms of being accepted by other native people, and by non-natives.
But to call that Red privilege, is to me, bizarre, despite the fact that I understand why it was said.
When you look White, and get treated White and that isn’t your identity, it sucks, yes. Trust me, I’m aware. But privilege? Should we also start discussing dark skinned Black privilege? “Obviously gay” privilege? “Clearly disabled” privilege (compared to those with disabilities which are not immediately obvious)?
Each one of these things does impact how people react to you, and whether or not they see you as Black, gay, disabled, or native…and maybe to people who are not instantly coded as what they are, it can seem unfair and it can even cause problems in your life. But in order to see it that way, you have to ignore all the privilege YOU have as someone who is being coded as a member of a dominant group AND you have to ignore the way in which being instantly recognised as a member of a marginalised group impacts those people.
The struggle that split feathers go through because of the continuing policies which place our children with non-native families at astronomical rates is a serious and damaging one. The experience of attempting, sometimes with almost no information, to reconnect, cannot be compared to growing up in your community. The experiences are just too disparate. But neither should we be buying into a concept of ‘Red privilege’. For White-coded or other non-native coded split feathers, the understanding of what it means to be ‘Red’ and connected is necessarily limited by personal experience. On the other side, most communities have had extensive experience with dealing with people trying to reconnect to that community.
There is something there, to being already connected and to knowing your family and community AND being immediately identifiably native…but given what my dark-skinned connected relations go through, you will never catch me calling it privilege.
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- tzoc-che said: Who even started this? Reminds me of the time someone called me privileged because I was a full Mayan and that we had our names and our language our culture, things my ancestors died for.
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