Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What does "Hispanic" mean from an American Indigenous perspective?

image is from here
There is a discussion of Indigenism here, but to me it is too located in an understanding of Indigenism as part of a larger non-Indigenous spiritual movement. Correctly or not, I prefer to see Indigenism as its own phenomenon, defined on its own terms, not measured against anglo-, euro-, or white-centric concepts and politics: 

Race, ethnicity, culture, nation, country, regional affiliation, affiliations by language and ancestry, all factor into how people identify themselves, with the exception of some whites, who have this whole purity complex going on that often results in grim and gruesome atrocities like slavery, ghettoisation, and genocide.

In the U.S. the term "Hispanic" has many meanings and is considered respectful and disrespectful, depending on who you speak with. Depending on who you are. Depending on your privileges, raced power, and history of exclusion or destruction by Anglo-, European-, and/or white-identified people.

What seems obvious, is  that white-identified people will do their best to fuck over everyone else to promote a rather sick and predatory idea of their own supremacy. Currently, this is a distinctly Western European and North American phenomenon--with variations in the UK and Australia. A friend in Spain who identifies as Hispanic, who is of Eastern European, Dominican, and Puerto Rican heritage, has been informing me of how very different 'race' issues are in Spain compared to the U.S. I remember hearing from someone in Greece who also informed me he wasn't "white". (He was not Indigenous, Asian, Brown, or Black.) At the time, I found this to be a kind of privilege-denial typical of whites. But I'm increasingly realising that the race system we have here in the U.S. not only doesn't apply to other parts of the world, but it isn't appropriate to overlay our race-terms on people in other regions.

To give one example of how problematic it becomes to apply U.S. terms to the world, here in the U.S. "Black" is generally synonymous with "being of sub-Saharan African descent". But in Australia, "Black" may refer to the Indigenous or First People of Australia. And, needless to say, the Indigenous people of Australia are not from Africa.

"Brown" is a term that is increasingly used here by me to refer to people of many ethnicities, ancestries, nations, and regions. At this point, "Black and Brown", to me, refers to most everyone on Earth. It refers to the people who are the majority population. It is inclusive of people of African, Asian, and Indigenous Nations or continents. The first people of the Americas, for example, are brown people. They are not, in terms of hue of skin, "red". The term "red" is controversial, for good reason. "Redskins" in particular, is a term which physically disgusts me. I find it disgusting and repugnant that U.S. sports teams and the U.S. media still exploit this term and invisibilise past and current genocide by doing so. From Wikipedia, on "Redskin":

Historic use

The term was a myth used throughout the English-speaking world (and in equivalent transliterations in Europe) throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as a common term of reference for indigenous Americans. The term was once in common use, as evidenced in Western movies, but is now largely considered a pejorative and is seldom used publicly (aside from the football team - see below). As with any term perceived to be discriminatory, different individuals may hold differing opinions of the term's appropriateness.
The terms "Red People" and "Red Skinned" have also been used to refer to the people of the Indian sub-continent (Wells).

According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the term "redskin" came from the reddish skin color of some Native Americans, as in the terms red Indian and red man, and the OED cites instances of its usage in English dating back to the 17th century (and cites a use of red in reference to skin color from 1587). Multiple theories fight for prominence as to the true historical origin of the word 'redskin.' One theory, mentioned above, is that the term was meant as merely a physical indicator, similar to the words "white" and "black" for Caucasians and Africans, respectively. Another theory holds that it was first used by Native Americans during the 1800s as a way of distinguishing themselves from the ever-growing white population. An often mentioned third but not proven origin involves the bloody skins (red-skins) of Native people as "prizes," in which they would be scalped after battle and their skins bought and sold in local towns. To date there is no historical documentation or evidence to support this theory.
Many Indigenous people in the U.S. do identify positively and meaningfully with the term "Red". See, for example, this book by Vine Deloria Jr., God is Red: A Native View of Religion. I support any people who are struggling to survive white oppression and racist oppression, naming themselves/ourselves, and controlling and promoting their own programs and agendas for liberation.

White supremacy is not the only form of race supremacy in the world, but I'd argue it is the most globalised and genocidal. While in other regions of the world there are racist ideologies not organised around a notion of whiteness, it appears to me to be the case that nowhere in the world are white people facing genocide or endangered collectively due to racism. (Unless, perhaps by white racism and white supremacist genocidal practices which may kill everyone on Earth.)

"Whiteness", to me, is unequivocally and undeniably the most vicious 'race'. Manufactured and consolidated by Western European men, it was formed and promoted as some kind of ethnic/blood Truth. It is a racial identity that comes with an obsession with "purity". I am also finding that among white activists, there is a kind of enforcement or collective anxiety about political purity. Always problematic for us whites, this matter of impurity. And we'll go on and on mass murdering Black and Brown people who are not willing to become "white" or "european-identified" in one way or another. And even when they do, we want them dead, or working for us, or we want what exists inside the parcels of earth that is their homeland.

I really like this video. On YouTube it is titled:

Do American Indians Look "Hispanic" or Do "Hispanics" Look American Indian?


Dark Daughta said...

"To give one example of how problematic it becomes to apply U.S. terms to the world, here in the U.S. "Black" is generally synonymous with "being of sub-Saharan African descent". But in Australia, "Black" may refer to the Indigenous or First People of Australia. And, needless to say, the Indigenous people of Australia are not from Africa." oh but they are. take another look at the map of this planet. i understand that just as there is a reason why people who live around the mediterranean, whether they're on the african side or the european side look the same (they encountered each other, moved around and...errr..did that other thing human beings tend to do that leads to having children), and much as i understand why people in the northern regions of south asia, closer to the flat interior regions where so much travel and intermingling went on for thousands of years look so light and why there are estonians who have high cheek bones and eyes with very little epicanthic folds and why there are russians who look so asian and why ethiopians and somalians and many east africans have such light, curly hair after generations of encountering middle eastern peoples who lived nearby and who also came to visit on a regular basis...i get why some people who live in south asian regions and pacific islander regions who share a body of water with southern africa look in african. there are historically documented interminglings and travel that happened in those parts, voyages back and forth. them defining as "black" in a black consciousness sort of way is very different than them having been defined as black by racist white people who just wanted to find a way to categorize them. but they are mixed race, of at least partial decent. no rocket science needed. it's just geography, demographics and the reality of human migration...and fucking. :)

Dark Daughta said...

:) do native people look like hispanics or hispanics look like natives? heh. :) of course hispanics look like natives because they're a mestizo people who are related to native peoples all over the amerikkkas. many spanish speaking people in amerikkka, central amerikkka, the caribbean and in the northern and mid regions of south amerikkka are also related to afrikkkan peoples. i think that culture is different from ethnicity, is different from political identity, is different from social location even as they are all intermingled in our minds in sometimes very arbitrary, sometimes not very arbitrary ways. we are all mestizo peoples, even people who define as white. we live on a planet where cultural and biological intermingling has been facilitated by water, land and more recently air travel for thousands of years. some (much) of this intermingling has happened via imperialist colonization at the point of a sword, knife, whip, gun, tank engine. much of the intermingling as come in the form of rape, trauma, fear, hurt. we turn away from it, pretend the horror of just how the isemination, dna exchange occured did not happen...but it did. we turn away, go into denial, soothe nightmares...forget...what is staring us in the face...what our faces and bodies tell us, the memories that are carried in the flesh. legacies of domination, rape, forced breeding, purposeful genetic assimilation is here in our bodies. what to do with these herstories is what many of us have been struggling to foreground, examine and profoundly understand. i think the conversations are exciting even if the places they started are gruesome. but i'm like that - gruesome just makes me want to take a closer look, not turn away quaking with fear, loathing and a general sense of discomfort.

Johnny said...

Being a "white man" and also a traveler(knacker, pikey, thinker gypsy), I am a daily victim of the so called superior white man.

Julian Real said...

Hi Johnny,

I hope you work with people to take down his Empire and otherwise dethrone him.