Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Being Fair Skinned Indian

"Fucking Whiteman". I was recently called this on my Facebook page. The author of the comment is actually a family relative. He pretended he didn't know who I was when he called me. It still stings when this is said to me. I grew up in our Reserve of Sagkeeng and the taunt was common. It is funny because lot of the taunts came from my First Cousins and friends. The taunt was meant to hurt and of course it did hurt. It hurt quite a bit and it helped shape some of my attitudes towards people. I carried the Indian in me as a challenge. When ever I was slighted in any possible way, I immediately attributed it to being an Indian. If I was short changed in a store or had a food order given after someone else who was after me in a restaurant, I would get upset and say so. I was so stupid. Can you imagine the confusion of the people who I accused of treating me like an Indian? I can just see them in their heads thinking "what's going on here"?

I have since accepted the fact that I don't fall into the Indian category in the looks department. So now my outburst of racism are muted. Now I know if I am slighted its because I am an old white looking guy. I save my comments about racism to people who actual know I am an Indian, aka Anishinabe, Indigenous. So now I have shaped my attitude to one of being an apologist. I apologize to other Indians and non-Indigenous people for my fair skin. I have to make sure to state my pedigree in order to be taken as an Indian.
Eric Robinson & Steve

I know many of my friends still say things like "Oh he's just a white man". Now added to that description is the word, old.  It is now part of the formula; I am an old white man. Its quite funny because I kind of like the old tag to my handle. I know I am older but not old, like in old, walks with a cane old. I will never accept white man in my description but that's not up to me. 

You will find many writings about the personal journey of Indigenous people who are fair skinned. The theme is always about trying to find acceptance among our own people and relatives. Heavy weight to carry when the outside world doesn't like who you are; Indian. Heavier still when your own people don't like a part of you. 

The thing is our Identity has been savagely attacked by society and we are trying to counter those attacks. Be proud, know our history, our value and our Spirit is a difficult trek. Especially when we have many other battles to wage as well. There are many, many Indigenous Women and Men trying to find their identity by accepting their cultural Teachings. I battle it by just shrugging it off or even laughing at myself. Me, my wife and youngest daughter tease about my white looks, especially when I spout off about white people.

The hardest thing to deal with is the condemnation from other Neechies for being who I am. I guess the best thing I can do is to ignore them. Its them who have the issue. Its them that carry a stick to hit others with. Still its hard. When they insult me they  insult my family, my large and extended family. The insults may seem funny to them. 

I am very fortunate that I did grow up knowing my relatives and my community. My skin color doesn't define me. It may have affected some of my attitudes but never my values; love of my people. 

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