Michelle, you remarks about "the Republicans, if they get control of Congress," suggest that you're unable to divorce partisanship from abstract philosophical considerations, since the entire Warren imbroglio would prove troubling irrespective of her party affiliation. Besides that, your assertion, "They might even disband the Native American tribal system," reflects a significant separation from practical reality, since the GOP has amassed majorities at various points in both American legislative chambers throughout the past 18 years, and, last time I checked, both IHS and the "tribal system" remained intact. I really appreciate your sensitivity to indigeneous matters, and that you're willing to condescend to enlighten me on the nuances of Native American history, tribal affiliation, and cultural context. As an American Indian myself, I have to say. . . I never considered such matters; thank you! You really add an educational element to the discourse. Aside from the patronizing and colonial subtexts implicit when an individual who does not share the experience of a cultural community presumes to instructively argue on behalf of that cultural community, I'm unsure whether you're simply unfamiliar with the specifics of this entire controversy, or if you're just electing to be deliberately myopic. However, I will be happy to, once again, delineate the problematic elements of Warren's conduct, even though I've highlighted them before on this very site. Warren, after a lifetime of self-identifying as Caucasian, suddenly began listing herself as a "minority" in professional directories at the age of 37. This is in itself disturbing, as the opportunity to ethnically self-identify in any professional or academic context is a function of equal opportunity aspirations. If we lived in a colorblind society, questions of race would not appear on such paperwork because they would be irrelevant. Warren, per her own previous self-identification, evidently felt that her experience for her entire childhood and young adulthood, as well as part of her middle age, was commensurate with that of a non-minority. After she acquired tenure at Harvard, the school began claiming her as a Native American in Department of Labor diversity statistics. The administrator responsible for compiling those statistics said he always allowed employees to self-identify. Since the purpose of these reports is the encourage multiculturalism in academia, why is is unreasonable to ask, Okay, well how did Warren add to the heterogeneity at Cambridge on the basis of her nominal Cherokee roots? So far, Professor Warren has said that she has "high cheekbones. . . like all the Indians do." Evidently, Warren feels that external signifiers of race are important as long as they conform to stereotypes that benefit her. Harvard Law promoted her as a "woman of color" who reflected the fact that they did not have a dearth of faculty diversity; since she facilitated and condoned this position, questions about ideas she herself introduced into the public arena (and continues to disseminate into the political discourse via comments like the "first Native Senator from Massachusetts") are inevitable and appropriate. Thus far, she has demonstrated no understanding of Cherokee customs, traditions, history, culture, or contemporary tribal affairs, and her lineage remains unsubstantiated. So, again, how is she effectively Native American per any possible criteria? I'm unsure how you concluded "lump all people of European background" together, because that's essentially my point: the idea Warren is promoting, in which one can suddenly say, I'm a "woman of color," absent any cultural conditions, is deleterious not only to the Cherokees, but also to all other Native American tribes because mainstream America has demonstrated a propensity to view indigeneous peoples are one large homogeneous group rather than as discrete and unique yet historically interrelated communities. Ergo, the notion that both you and Warren are promoting, in which anyone can maximize their connection to a non-existent heritage, will likely impact Natives regardless of their specific tribal origins. And you didn't really address a foundational question that this saga precipitates: Warren maintains that she is "proud" of her hypothetical roots, but is refusing to speak to Native American news outlets like the one you're reading, and maligning Cherokee women who travel to Boston to speak with her, so how is that consistent with her advancement of herself as an unabashed Indian woman or with her assertions that she will be an advocated for the ignored and marginalized in the Senate? She can't even bother to engage with those who find her conduct and philosophies contradictory to liberal tenets, so how is she going to effectively represent an entire state in Congress? Furthermore, per the formulation of "high cheekbones," do you believe that it would be unproblematic for Mitt Romney to advertise himself as the first Hispanic President? He has "black hair," a feature commonly ascribed to Latinos, and his father was born in Mexico. So, in Warren's model, there should be nothing strange about an individual of any race claiming any other ethnicity as long as there is some reductive physical characteristic to substantiate their misguided logic.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012 - 00:12