Opinion

Dina Gilo-Whitaker: Colonialism leaves stain on Indian people





Dina Gilio-Whitaker shares an experience with Indian-on-Indian racism:
This week I had a personal experience that was simultaneously painful and shocking, involving betrayal and a peculiar form of racism that exists in Indian country. Thinking that as a writer this could be useful material—a teachable moment perhaps—I ask that you please indulge me for a moment while I recount with broad strokes what happened.

I had a friendship with someone that spanned 15 years. When we first met I was a friend to this man at a time when few friends were available, owing in part to the fact that he had just been released from a several year long prison sentence for a violent crime committed against his then wife. Many times over the years he has thanked me for my friendship and acknowledged my willingness to trust him at such a fragile and vulnerable time in his life. He prides himself on his full-blood Native heritage and the fact that he lives on his home reservation, but like for so many of our people drinking continually complicates his life.

It came to my attention that the man who I thought was a friend had spoken about me to someone else in a very disrespectful and potentially damaging way, not knowing it would get back to me. It demonstrated unequivocally that this person was not actually my friend. The betrayal was disappointing enough; but what was more astounding was his use of the word “breed” in describing me.

Get the Story:
Dina Gilio-Whitaker: The Ugliness of Indian-on-Indian Racism (Indian Country Today 2/13)