Apologies! Will post soon! (Also: Real = symbol, Fake = real.)
December 2, 2008
Wow, it’s been two weeks since I’ve posted. Damn. Well, I’m done with exams as of today, and am taking a bit of time off before really returning to the world of theory. Also the world of transphobia–I read far too much Americans for Truth About Homosexuality in researching for my second paper, some Janice Raymond, and in depth descriptions of transphobic police violence here, here, and here IN ADDITION to anti-Native violence in Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide and anti-Native transphobic violence in Transgender Warriors. Writing about violence and genocide, not recommended.
I will leave you with one weird insight I had while writing my second paper:
Andrea Smith, arguing against the notion that racism tries to keep people “‘tainted’ by Black or Indian blood” from becoming white, writes that that logic “fails to consider US policies of forced assimilation and forced whiteness on American Indians. …American Indians have been valued for the land base they occupy, so it is in the interest of dominant society to have as few people marked “Indian” as possible.” White people can gain access to resources/deny them to Native people through eliminating them physically, but also through identity stripping: “one of the more frequent slurs whites hurled when the Chippewa attempted to exercise their treaty-protected right to fish was that they had white parents, or that they were really white.” Far from indicating that the white people in question simply didn’t realize that the spearfishers were Chippewa, and would have readily granted the resources if they just saw that they were indeed Indian, it represents policing the bounds of the “real”—idealized, formalized—Indian while dismissing the “fake”—factual, embodied—Indian.Its use as a slur isn’t possible without both categories, any more than it would have been possible for the US Congress when, in 1956, it “recognized the Lumbee as Indian, but denied the tribe full status as a federally recognized Indian tribe.”11 This transposition of real and fake enables the construction of Native people as disappearing, in that it creates the conditions to recognize actual Native people while simultaneously dismissing their authenticity, constructing an authentic, “real” Indian inherently at least a hundred and fifty years in the past, so that the “fake” Indian, modern and in the present, is a sign of the “authentic” culture dying off, a ‘present absence.’
(quotes are from “Heteropatriarchy and the Three Pillars of White Supremacy: Rethinking Women of Color Organizing,” in INCITE’s Color of Violence, and the Lumbee Tribe Website.)
I was just struck that when people are contesting other people’s identities, “fake” actually refers to what’s real, and “real” refers to the symbolic. I’m sure you can see how that relates to trans stuff.
EDIT: (In case that sounds bizarre, when people say something like a “real Native American,” they mean someone who goes bare chested, wears feathers, and is deeply spiritual and wise. And dead. So factual, in the flesh Native people who aren’t like that “aren’t Indians”–to the point that one person checked the “Native American” box on a college form and the clerk at the desk erased it and checked “Caucasian” instead. Similarly, when people say “real woman,” they tend to think of a lot of things that symbolize ‘woman,’ and deny someone the symbolic status “woman” at the same time that they recognize them as a “fake” woman, that is, a woman in social terms, that is, what “woman” really refers to, a member of a particular social class. )
(also added two sentences onto the quote from my paper)