My Minority Status Off The Reservation
The first thing that came to mind when I recently found out I may be Native American is to whether this meant I could get comped at an Indian casino.
The second thing I thought about is whether I’d want the 2,000 angry emails that would accompany a column that pokes fun at race. And while there’ll always be a few easily-offended readers out there, they should take caution. As a person of color, I’m operating under the assumption that any criticism of me represents nothing more than thinly-veiled racism. (You should probably search your soul for the root causes.)
I discovered my newfound ethnicity the other night, when it was revealed that my grandpa’s grandma was likely Indian. And by “Indian” I mean “Native American” Indian as opposed to the Indian you think of when you call tech support and need a complicated question answered by someone who learned English last Friday.
The documentation is a little sketchy, but she was believed to be an Algonquin Indian who married my French-Canadian great-great grandpa. Her name was “Eugenie,” — which I found to be somewhat disappointing. I had assumed her name would be something majestic, like “Running Elk” or “Soaring Eagle.” I would have settled for “Squatting Gopher.”
Nevertheless, good old Great-Great Grandma Eugenie has verified my status as an oppressed minority, and I couldn’t be happier. I’m like the happiest oppressed minority ever.
Why? Well for one, I can now run for the senate in Massachusetts. I can also milk the affirmative action teat to get hired on at places like Harvard or C.U. Granted, being 1/32nd Native American is not much, but it’s 1/32nd more than Elizabeth Warren and Ward Churchill combined.
For another, the joke book is now wide open. My minority status grants me comedic impunity. Just ask my wife. She’s already tired of seeing me walk in with a six pack of beer, and calling it “firewater.” She gets upset when she asks me to take out the trash and I tell her that the white man has been oppressing my people for years. She’s particularly adamant in her refusal to call me “Chief.”
The point is that my Indian blood allows me to tell offensive jokes now without the tiresome charges of racism being thrown around. I have lots of good jokes too. If I can find some black and Jewish ancestors, I’ll be set.
I’m also glad to have a new interesting box to mark on those “State Your Ethnicity” sections you always see on things like government documents and applications for in-store credit. I’ve always hated that section. Somehow we’ve gotten to the point in America where a company needs to know the pigmentation of your skin before they’ll let you finance a dishwasher. I’m not sure why. I think there’s like a special discount for Eskimos or something.
That’s why on loan applications and warranty forms and such, I always check the box that says, “African-American.” That way if I get bad service, I can just accuse them of racism while threatening to sic Al Sharpton on them. It tends to get a company’s attention. You can say I’m unethical, but at least the Sears Appliance department always returns my calls.
As a new Native American, I searched around on some websites to see what kind of free government goodies I could score…er,...I mean, to see how past injustices could be rectified. Unfortunately, I learned you have to have detailed proof and documentation to be officially recognized as a tribal member. I’m proud to embrace my newfound heritage, but not if it involves three copies and a notary.
What I am going to visit the nearest Indian casino and ask if rooms are free, — you know, for us family members. Then I’ll hit up the restaurant, tell the hostess I’m Native American, and demand a nice table.
She better not ask me if I have reservations.