Man Crush Monday, Pt. 2: Wab Kinew, Renaissance Native From Up North

Gyasi Ross
5/5/14

I don’t only get man-crushes on models. I also crush on artists, activists, and all-around amazing dudes from Canada; no, man-crushes don’t recognize arbitrary borders that separated Indigenous homelands.

That’s right, I’m gangster with these man-crushes.

Every single one of these #MCM Man Crushes are people whom I truly admire and wish I were more like. Inspirational. I read one time, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” I started keeping track of my Man Crushes so that I could, like Serpentor in GI Joe, find traits and attributes to emulate amongst a lot of different amazing people.

That made sense to me; how could I be that much different than the company I keep? If I want to be a great dancer, I would probably hang around James Brown (RIP) or Shawn Scabbyrobe or MC Hammer or James Jones or Thosh Collins. Likewise, if I wanted to be a great writer, I’d hang around Sherman Alexie or Robert Chanate or Kurt Vonnegut. Or if I wanted to be a great cook, I’d hang around Emeril (BAM!) or Paula Deen if she didn’t chase me out first while calling me racist pet names like “My sexy ass, bushy, buckskin savage!”.

You get the point; you resemble the company you keep. You TAKE ON the attributes of the company you keep. Some white folks even say that your ANIMALS begin to look like you (I’m not convinced though—what do you think?).

But what about those young folks who want to do everything? What if you’re a young Native person who has NO interest in giving up ANY of your dreams—you plan to accomplish them all—who do you spend time with and emulate then??

I have an answer for you, young Native folks who want to accomplish everything: Wab Kinew. An Indigenous brother who DOESN’T KNOW how to NOT do what he wants. 

Let me rephrase that: Wab Kinew is an Indigenous man who does EXACTLY what he wants to do. That’s powerful. Native people have been taught over and over again—through such devices as forcibly having our children removed and being prevented from practicing our religious beliefs at the risk of going to prison—that we have no control over our destinies. We are victims.

That is wrong. We are not victims unless we choose to be.

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mizzy's picture
mizzy
Submitted by mizzy on
Uplift ideology has some pitfalls... Racial uplift ideology, the belief that educated, elite Native folks, have a duty and responsibility for the welfare of the majority of Native people, remains an influential framework among many Native people for understanding the challenges they continue to face. The persistence of racial stereotypes and prejudice fuels the perception among many Native people that racist attitudes must be countered by positive images and exemplary behavior by Natives. Moreover, the fragility of Native social progress and conservative attacks on tribal sovereignty have contributed to a renewed popularity of self-help ideology and efforts. Despite the significant changes produced by the movement for tribal sovereignty, U.S. society remains deeply divided on issues concerning tribal sovereignty at every level of government. Among Native people the divide in income, social class, and cultural values is arguably increasing, with a small minority gaining a toe hold in the American middle class. These conditions seem to assure the continued salience of racial uplift ideology, though whether it assumes a liberal or conservative form depends on its larger sociopolitical context.
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