'But My Best Friend Is White': Racism as Satire

Terese Marie Mailhot

When there are too many white people at a venue, I get scared. Please don't judge me; my best friend is white (Hi, Rhonda!) I know some great white people, but it is you bad apples who ruin it for your ethnicity. Don't you see you're just playing into stereotypes with your hiking and snowboarding—your enthusiasm for turquoise and the hot new ethnic food that none of your white friends have tried yet. Can't you stop wearing cargo shorts? How many granola bars and cartons of coconut water could you possibly need to carry?

If you could only see that when you ask me to, “get over the past, it was a hundred years ago,” I wonder if you've ever actually been to a reservation, or considered the idea that they're just ghettos, a genocidal strategy.

If only you could see that when you ask me about the plights of being Indian, or if I was “spiritual,” or practiced “any of that stuff,” you really worried me, because I thought, 'man, these white people are so uncivilized.' I mean, where did they learn social tact or cultural respect? Who taught these people to wear sandals with their khakis?

I'm not sure why you guys, who want to be close to us, approach us like socio-cultural anthropologists, studying us in great detail, asking us questions, trying to, “understand.” Part of my role as a woman who wants to decolonize and subvert culture is to reject being known, identified, and managed. I mean, how has appealing to the better natures of white people helped my ancestors? We've tried discourse within settler colonial institutions and all that's done is further marginalize us. Let's face it, you guys are savages. Again, please don't judge me. My husband is white and a credit to his race.

Please stop telling us you don't see color, because it's a privilege to be oblivious and unaware of how people of color are judged and mistreated. Stop saying things like, “post race,” when I have never stopped being confronted with injustice. Do you know there's a thing called, “Starlight Tours?” It's when Indians are apprehended by police in winter, then driven out into the middle of nowhere to die. It's so common there's a name for it. I'm sure you're unaware of how a woman like me can be brutally raped and murdered, and that my murder will most likely go unsolved.

Let's talk about the greatest atrocities against me: You guys always walk through the door when I open it, assuming I'm opening the door for you. You also cut in line, I mean really I've only seen about four of you doing that, but you know what they say about roaches? If you see one there are a hundred more behind the wall.           

I'm not racist, but why are you so touchy about your rescue dogs when I suggest they might be suicidal? Have you tried vegan dog food? It's just cruel. What is your fascination with treating dogs better than the millions of hungry children in America? You have an affinity for something that holds you to be superior and trusts you to know what's good for it. Nevermind, I get it.

I know you white people have suffered a lot with your celiac disease, and it really worries me when I see you guys struggle at restaurants with no gluten-free option. Honestly, when my reservation named our softball team “The Slave Owners,” I thought you would be honored. Your image is a symbol of oppression and dominance, and trust me, we dominated last season. My son was a white speed walker for Halloween and he was adorable. He was paying homage to your perseverance and strength. I'm not a racist, really, I'm just saying what everyone is thinking. I'm helping you guys out. We've become so politically correct that we've lost our way to understanding. 

Terese Marie Mailhot is from Seabird Island, a place bound by the Mariah Slough and the Fraser River. She studies at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Her work, “Heart Berries,” can be found in Carve magazine, and her story, “House Party,” is forthcoming in Yellow Medicine Review.

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ReneeH's picture
I really enjoyed and you said a lot for Native/First Nation women out there and I'm sure there is even more you could say that we could relate to. When is this going to be shared on Facebook? I have a quote picked out for my loving non-native friends on FB.
RobynL's picture
Oh man, this was good to read today! Who says we're too sensitive and don't know how to laugh.... even through the truths.
Bob G.'s picture
Thanks for your article, Terese Marie. I found some real humor here mixed in with some not so nice things. PC'ness has created an environment where it's difficult to communicate with others, particularly folks of other cultures, etc. I did feel bad about the door-opening thing, though. My Mom would clip me silly for that behavior with anyone. Good luck ahead.
Bob G.