I got all the white genes.

picture015Cayla Olson,
Duluth, MN.

I have always felt that I had to qualify my racial identity with those six words. I am part native, my mother being Ojibwe and French, and my father being Oneida and Irish. We lived on my mom’s home reservation, and it was never any mystery to me as to what made me different from everyone else (that mattered- we have a large population of white land-owners, which makes for an interesting racial climate, but that is another story for another day). The way that I look, the face that I see every time I look in the mirror is an enormous source of pain for me. Sometimes, it is so easy for me to get caught up in how unfair my hand was. I was raised learning the traditions, being taught Ojibwe by my grandparents, and feeling like a native through and through. No other part of my heritage will ever be as strong as my Ojibwe roots, but I cannot own that part of myself, truly, because I have light skin and hair. I have not been living at home for almost four years now, and most of the time, I do my best to not talk about myself much. It’s easier to be just pass as a white girl and hate myself for it.

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One Response to "I got all the white genes."
  1. barry irving says:

    ..wow, do you realize how much limbo you just expressed???

    …White is a Race based Political / Social Construct…no one White Race. Geography defines racial groups and their indigenousness. White is not genetic, it is linguistic and intellectual. Irish, Swedish, French?…two European National, White racial groups and one mixed “White” group…from my professional and social experiences.

    …I don’t look like my “original” African ancestor, but I know my Tree. I also practice my culture professionally….I started learning right at home and went further as an adult from Home Folk Culture to Professional Artist / Educator / Performer. It’s not about how I look – it’s about my personal evolution in a traditional path.

    …seemingly most Native Americans where I live look European. They, like us are new world people. If you look at history, you see clearly that people mix. We’re not ( all ) supposed to look like the original. Our Grand Parents and Great Grand Parents were about assimilation. We are about today’s Diaspora Culture. There is a whole population of mixed people today, who identify across America’s major ethnic groups. Some of them are just American. The rest are a mix of hyphenated national identities. These are all supported by the U.S. Constitution.

    …If you are in touch with your root and it is a part of your every day ritual then you have nothing to question about your authenticity. America is a hybrid culture with a hybrid language…that makes living a dual cultural perspective difficult!

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