Fascism in the Aboriginal Community
Today I went with a friend to the friendship centre in town. Friendship Centre, it sounds so warm and fuzzy, like a big Plush Indian is giving away hugs. Actually it was nice, got some free chow in my tummy, listened to a bunch of Aboriginal women debate with each other about who was preparing what food. Went to the bathroom and saw a little round sticker that read “Stop Racism.”
It’s an interesting thing, we want to stop racism from white folks, but so rarely do we look at our own communities and see the racism within.
Once in high school a friend passed me a joint, first time I ever put my lips to smokeable substances that weren’t ceremonial. I passed it back and she said “You nigger-lipped it!” I was speechless. For one thing, I had known this friend since the tender age of two, when we were both in Kakesate Daycare together, learning how to count in Cree. But this wasn’t the limit of her racism, she also had several choice words about Asian people, none of which I care to repeat, except to say that it was a mockery of Asian languages.
The reason I bring this up is that later on this evening (my date got postponed) I was channel surfing at a friend’s pad and there was news about the most recent school shooting at the Red Lake Indian Reservation. They say the shooter was a regular on Neo-Nazi websites, and expressed hatred towards Aboriginals who were not full-blooded. One might consider it a fluke, one errant Aboriginal boy with the means to express his hatred violently. However, if you ask any light skinned Aboriginal such as moi, this kind of hatred is deeply ingrained in our communities.
Canadians may remember David Ahenakew’s praise for the Nazi party back in 2002, and the shockwaves which rocked the country. Yes Virginia, there really are fascist Aboriginals.
I think the natural question is why. Why would a minority of Colour group be attracted to the dogma of an Aryan race? Why would oppressed people who have suffered (and still are suffering) genocide, like the granddaddy of all Genocidal leaders?
I think the interest in fascism stems from this idea of a disappearing (rather than continually evolving) race, and this desire to keep the race pure. It’s written in the legislation around being Aboriginal, and it’s something our leaders often spout without thinking of the consequences. The purity of the race. We have heard this phrase before. There are Aboriginals who really want to basically evict those of us who don’t measure up via blood quantum. We’re considered genetic traitors.
The irony of this is that in terms of cross-cultural alliances, Aboriginals and Jewish people have a lot of common ground, and have formed strong bonds. I’ve found myself feeling at home with Jewish friends as easily as with my Aboriginal friends. We both have horror stories woven through our ancestors plights, and we both like to eat. We’ve both been re-located and put through institutions to kill us and/or our cultural practices. And yet Hitler liked Aboriginals. He liked the idea of a pure race, a noble savage, fighting to keep our homeland, just as he thought he was doing.
As an Aboriginal community, let us not ignore this one school shooting as a rogue youth with some bad internet influences. Let’s take this opportunity to really, I mean SERIOUSLY, take stock of the lack of respect for cultural diversity, the racism towards other minority groups, and our own self-loathing of mixed race members of our communities. It’s time to admit that Aboriginals can be racists too.