My mother has screamed at me for calling myself white.
She locks eyes with me and lowers her voice to a volume that I truly, scientifically believe only indigenous mothers can reach she lets me fucking have it
I gave you ribbon dresses,
I showed you how the earth works,
I made you the best goddamn fry bread you’ve ever eaten,
And you call yourself white? You erase me, my mother tells me.
But my mother doesn’t understand that when people look at me the only thing in their heads is a theme song that sounds like...
Scoobity doo scoobity bow, she is fuckin white!
I am swimming through internalized racism and externalized appropriation
Dripping with mixed guilt
when I realize that the first time I felt truly native was not after they gave me my name or after I started to learned my language
It was after I dyed my hair black.
Shameful as it is
I could finally look in the mirror and see my mema, my mother, Iposi, Ishki.
Cheekbones high, hair jet black, eyes full of pride- I didn’t have that.
Instead I found myself apologizing for my college scholarships
Explaining my lineage to people like I was giving them a report for a middle school social studies class
Giving in and telling people the quantum of my blood when it became clear that just telling them I am a daughter of my tribe would not suffice.
I want my mother to understand
It’s not enough for me to go to the pow wows.
It’s not enough for me to learn the language.
When my skin- bred through the assimilation they force fed us- is too white now.
They bleached my culture away, and I’ve come out of the wash whiter than intended.
Except when my mother looks at me, she sees her mother
She sees sacrifice and growth and access to a future she didn’t have.
What your skin lacks in pigment it makes up for in stories, my mother tells me.
It’s not your job to reflect what they think you should look like, my mother tells me.
Our people walked the trail of tears so you don’t owe anyone shit, my mother tells me.
But my mother doesn’t understand that she married a white man and made a white baby.
That I walk through the world as a white baby. Carrying the learned trauma of centuries of oppression and assimilation I may be- but still a white baby.
It doesn’t matter, my mother tells me.
The blood of the matriarch is what defines you, my mother tells me.
I made you, my mother tells me.
Got my father’s eyes
And my father’s nose
And my father’s skin
And my father’s privilege
And i’m growing into it
Learning how to use it
So I can be the daughter my mother wants me to be.