What This White Passing Mixed Kid Wants You to Know:
Yes, I am aware of how pale I am.
Yes, I know my blonde hair and blue eyes are deceiving.
Yes, I see you all squint your eyes at me when you find out I'm mixed. I imagine you're trying to look through some sort of tunnel to all of my ancestors.
Yes, I am so privileged.
Yes, I'm ashamed of myself sometimes.
No, I wasn't told as a child that I'm mixed.
No, I don't know the culture of the tribe.
No, I honestly don't know what to say to my family and friends of color when they see news stories about people who look like them being murdered. Back when I was seeing news of Mike Brown, a kid my own age, shot dead in the streets of Ferguson and left there, I cried and worried for them, but I knew anything I said would be an empty sympathy. I knew I would never be targeted by an officer. I knew I wouldn't have to worry about fitting a description. I know I'll never have to use a nickname on resumes or take on a different persona over the phone or spend hours at a salon chemically changing the way my hair grows from my head. I know I'll never be randomly searched or be humiliated by being followed in a store. I'll never have to worry about living the same lives my family on the reservations do. I can slip through colored cracks and it makes me feel so guilty.
I am proud to be half Native, but I feel a sick kind of relief that I will never experience the blatant racism my family does.
I grew up with a society that never told me I was lesser than, and as a result, never made me feel afraid to do or say things others either wouldn't or couldn't.
When I went to Ferguson in the aftermath of Mike Brown's death, an officer walked over to the crowd I was standing with and told them to scatter or else they'd end up worse off than him. An actual thing someone said in 2014 and I was shocked (I really truly was not prepared for the 2016 presidential election). I could tell everyone around me wanted to say something, but the fear of the officer following through was too great.
After a moment of stunned silence, I yelled at the officer to fuck off, that we had every right to be where we were, that if he didn't like it, he shouldn't stand by as his colleague gets away with murder.
He looked truly taken aback, but I knew that he wouldn't do anything about it, I knew that my skin color made me less threatening in his eyes.
The day after the election, there was a march here in my hometown to let those around us know that we weren't backing down. One of the signs I saw there said plainly "White people are the worst," carried by a white man. When he was stopped for a picture by someone around us, he said that he made the sign because it needed to be said.
It was him saying that that made me realize that being white passing is something I can use to my advantage to educate those around me.
I know that when I'm with a white friend and they say something problematic, they're more inclined to listen to me when I call them out on it; white people don't discard me as trying to play a victim like they so often do with non-passing people of color. When my cousins on the reservation talk with me about how the current political happenings affect them, I take what they say and use it to strengthen my arguments.
I am white passing and I have the privilege to be there for the people in my life who have been most disenfranchised and disregarded.