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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