Cultural Native Pride Vs. White Racial Pride
I wrote this blog article in response to many comments I read online in response to the Inquisition interview I did about the Black Metal band Inquisition. I am now posting this article because of similar responses I have heard about the Braves use of racist mascot.
The concept of race is complex and often confuses people. Often people do not know how to discern the difference between race, ethnicity and culture. We have learned from science that race is a social construction. Research has proven that the phenotypes of the human body i.e. eye color, hair color, skin color are not determinants of a person’s intelligence, behavior, nor criminality. A person’s skin color is not guide the reason for their behavior. Language and culture influence a person’s worldview and behavior, along with other biological determinants, which of course have nothing to do with color of skin.
The concept of race and the practice of racialization often result in racism. There are more similarities between people than there are differences. Race is only as important as a particular society emphasizes it to be.
Before the Americas were ‘discovered’ the indigenous peoples referred to the land base of North and South America as Turtle Island. There were as many indigenous cultures as there were languages. There were complex societies and governance systems in place. People were seen as people. Colonization has resulted in divisiveness amongst peoples and land. Indigenous cultural revitalization movements have formed a collective voice that takes pride in beautiful and resilient relationships with land, language and people. This revitalization is sometimes referred to as Native Pride.
Native Pride is a social movement of healing indigenous cultures, after a legacy of atrocity perpetrated by a white supremacist regime. The indigenous cultural revitalization and healing movement has a strong and prominent position, as it should. Canada should have pride in this fact. First Nations’ identity has proven to be a resilient spirit that is not restricted by time, space, or by colonization. Native Pride is not about hate.
The history of Canada has proven to be entrenched in a racist worldview. The Canadian federal government is still racist, and because of that racist laws still exist. The evidence is seen in the treatment of First Nations peoples, which is justified through legislation i.e. Indian Act.
The Indian Act has resulted in the decimation of indigenous peoples, land, culture and language. Colonization has resulted in genocidal atrocities committed against indigenous peoples. The Indian Act justified the imposition of racist laws that banned cultural practices i.e. prohibition of language, cultural ceremonies, indigenous governance. Assimilation programs, like the residential schools, were put into action. The plan of the federal government was to exterminate indigenous ways of being. The racist law and worldview of the colonial government intended to exterminate indigenous cultures, if not it would likely have exterminated indigenous peoples similarly to the USA. The justification for racism was based in a combination of religion, science and law.
In part, the belief system that inspired systemic genocide was called manifest destiny. This racist belief structure had roots within racist science, religion and politics. It was a belief that the inferior race of ‘savages’ was to be civilized and converted to Christianity. This perverse interpretation of religious doctrine and faith fuelled the decimation of the First Peoples of Turtle Island.
Since the late 1800s, Canada has continued on with the legacy of a racist agenda that has resulted in the murder and torture of tens of thousands of indigenous children in residential schools. The indigenous population was never ‘conquered’ in Canada. The Canadian government entered into Treaty Agreements with many First Nations, with some exceptions. The Canadian Government has continuously disregarded historic treaties with First Nations peoples. First Nations peoples are the only group in Canada who are consistently threatened by the Canadian Government with military force. The Federal Government often functions as if it is a consistent enemy of the indigenous peoples. Systemic racism is still in motion and so is day-to-day racism.
The Indian Act of Canada determines Indian Status (citizenship) by means of what we call blood quantum, which is actually a socially constructed mathematical formula that measures Indian-ness based in a de-bunked science from the era of manifest destiny. This mathematical formula that is still in place and is at its core extremely racist and by definition is Apartheid. If any other legislation were introduced that mathematically measured someone’s race it would be surely be squashed as a violation of Human Rights. Native-ness or indigeniety is not measured by blood quantum.
Native Pride has emerged out of the imposed colonial campaign that launched genocide against the indigenous peoples on Turtle Island, which was initiated by Europeans. Indigenous identity and education is rooted within the cultural teachings found in the language and ceremonies that connect peoples with the land. It was not until just over 50 years ago that had changed when complex changes were made to the Indian Act. Between 1952 and 1985 these changes included lifting prohibition of cultural practices, right to vote and other Constitutional issues. In the 1970s the indigenous healing movement emerged and was made accessible to the larger population, after remaining an underground social movement due to the legislative prohibitions. Cultural revitalization, after an era of oppression, became central to Native Pride.
In Canada we often hear statements, from non-indigenous Canadians, that are demeaning and racist towards First Nations people. These comments echo the racism that indigenous peoples have suffered historically, and still experience today e.g.:
- Canada has compensated First Nations enough for the residential school stuff, when is enough, enough?
- First Nations’ receive plenty of special treatment e.g. free education and money, free hunting and fishing, and free houses on reserve lands.
- I am not my ancestors, I cannot and will not be held accountable for the bad things they did to First Nations peoples.
- If natives can have Native Pride why am I am I called a racist for having White Pride?
Canada offers all people freedom of expression with limitations, of course. The limits to free expression, or freedom of speech, end when we begin to promote violence and or genocide of identifiable groups. The Criminal Code of Canada does have a Hate Crimes section that ineffectively deals with these limitations to free speech. Under Section 13 of the Human Rights Act of Canada people had an alternative process to deal with hateful messages. However, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has recently repealed Section 13. Harper’s government stripped Canadians of this alternative process.
The right wing Conservatives, who had historic ties to several Canadian and American white supremacist terrorists, felt that hate crimes legislation was appropriate to deal with hate crimes and that Section 13 was unnecessary. According to Human Rights organizations and lawyer Richard Warman the decision to repeal Section 13 was a deficient direction that would surely be celebrated by right wing extremists and terrorists.
White supremacists, neo-Nazis and other right wing extremist types have been diligently attempting to water down and whitewash the racist movement in North America to what is sometimes referred to as ‘white nationalism.’ Another term utilized by this social movement is White Pride. In fact, the idea of White Pride as opposed to White Power is encouraged by some of the most dangerous white supremacists in North America and functions as the central motif of the Nazi-esque worldview. Some people ask:
“If First Nations can have Native Pride why can’t ‘whites’ have White Pride?”
White people have not, and do not, face systemic racism, oppression and genocide; in spite of what white supremacists and Nazi-types claim. White Pride is dogmatic disguising of extremist right wing ideology and is entrenched in the idea that white people are somehow facing oppression. In fact, white people are not facing oppression. However, we do live in a rapidly changing society due to globalization. This can result in the dominant ‘white’ society, feeling their privilege slowly slipping away.
Canadian society is experiencing a social growth spurt and as a result many ‘white’ people are uncomfortable with, and resistant to, the changes our society is experiencing. This trend of gripping onto white supremacist dogma, seemingly perpetrated by ‘white’ men, is likely unbeknownst to most due to a lack of critical thinking skills. Most people who believe they are not racist become entrenched in defensiveness when confronted on their subtle and inherent racist declarations.
Race was socially constructed as a way to divide people. Racialization does not empower anyone, except the dominant class that racially identifies and positions itself above others. In order for the dominant class to maintain its grip of power-over ‘other-ed’ groups it must resist and refuse to relinquish their dominion, power and social privilege.
White Pride is not about culture, because it has everything to do with race and power. There is no singular ‘white culture.’ Also, there is no singular Native culture but the European colonial government did apply white supremacist policy to most indigenous peoples. Native Pride is about the reconstitution and reclamation of cultural identity that was restricted through genocidal processes. Indigenous peoples have been forced to collectively respond to systemic racism and persecution. Native Pride is not about race and is a cultural revitalization social movement. Whereas, White Pride is rooted within white supremacy and or the discomfort with a decreasing amount of privilege that comes at the cost of injustices served unto indigenous peoples.
Any person, or group, that is deluded to believe White Pride is not racist needs to be challenged directly. Any person or organization that believes that ‘whites’ are experiencing oppression or racism do not understand what these concepts mean. Public conversations are necessary in order for social learning to be achieved. Public education and dialogue is essential in order to challenge these racist rationalizations.
Un-learning will only be achieved once we openly negotiate these conversations publicly. White Pride is inherently a racist realization. Native Pride is a path to reclamation of indigenous voice and vision, and is not based in racial assertions.