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Cómo se YO momma?
Being brown skinned and obviously ethnic in appearance, I am often, almost daily in fact, presumed to be Latino. When I go out for Mexican food, the server almost always speaks Spanish to me. When I reply, "Sorry, no Spanish," I always get a look of near disgust. As if to say, "Well, excuuuuuse me." When I interview for jobs, they always ask, "You speak Spanish, right?" Uhm, no. If you had reviewed the job application for such details, you would have see that on the race box, if my race was unavailable, I checked the "other" box. Truth be known, most folks can't tell what the heck I am upon first glance. Then, to hear me speak, they are even more dumbfounded; 'cause bove all else, I am a kuntry gurl, but by accent only.
What are you?
¿Cómo se llama? = What is your name?
Cómo se YO momma? = What is your momma?
That is my own interpretation or translation of it. What IS your momma? Is she white? Black? Latino? What about your daddy? See for me, I go with the mother because I come from a matrilineal society of people. We are who we are because of our mothers. Not only due to the way they guide us, but because of the blood line that they give us. We inherit more than just an influence. We inherit part of her. Yes, we all have our father's genes and human nature allows for a human to be created from both. But a mother grows her child from within her. If you plant a seed in the ground, the fruit it bears is of that earth. Not of the water it took to grow it. Oranges come from Florida, not from rain.
This is who I am.
Who are my people? My people are Cherokee. Tsa-la-gi. ᏣᎳᎩ. I am ᏣᎳᎩ. If you were to see me, you would say, "Oh, ok. Now I can see it." High cheek bones. Brown skin. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But why is it that people like me are only easily identifiable in areas that we heavily populate? Because the race that once presided over this land is now a minority. We heavily populate areas due to the reservations. Once a noble and proud people we are now more associated with alcohol and casinos. But if you mention being Cherokee to anyone else, of course their great, great grandmother was Cherokee. Bet she was. I bet she was...
Let's clear this up.
It doesn't bother me that I am mistaken for Latino. It bothers me that I am mistaken for a race that is not even native to my land. It bothers me that we are presumed to be gone. Or worse, complacent and content in our little reservations. What happened to my people, happened. Just like the other horrid and despicable things that happened to minorities along the way to conjuring this country. Alright, no more beating a dead horse. On with it...
I rather like the fact that most people can't really tell what I am. Makes me a mystery. Exotic. But if you don't know, then please, PLEASE don't assume. It's offensive. I don't assume that you're from England because your white or from Africa because your black. And no, I don't expect everyone to be able to identify an American Indian upon first glance. Just don't start speaking Spanish to us. At least not to me. If you don't know, ask. Don't care? Me either.
My momma is Cherokee, of the Paint Clan. Aniwodi. Medicine people. I was born unto her, of her; therefore, I AM Aniwodi.
© 2014 SJohnson