The articles we read for class today span across the topic of whiteness and American Indians.
I’ll begin with whiteness. The CAA art journal by a conglomeration of authors spoke very well to the invisibility of whiteness as a race. In Western, dominate culture, white doesn’t have to be and is not widely recognized as a race, rather it is an assumed baseline for the rest to be judged off of. While reading this article, I reflected on my own assumptions of whiteness. I realized that when I think of what is “standard” I think of what is Western. I assume the subject is white until otherwise noted. This is damaging because it allows racial stereotypes to hold quite a bit of power. If most white people assume a white standard and their subject is say, black, then every cultural black assumption is inserted into their character without even a word spoken. Blackness is then different from the innate ideal and either enhances or detracts, depending on what is wanted. This un-levels the societal playing field greatly and denormalizes the Other and marginalizes them to their differences. The question is, how do we get whites to recognize their whiteness?
Luna, an Native American artist, tested the desires of his white, American audience. He gained a great amount of attention when dressed in cultural attire, and everyone wanted a picture with him in his war gear rather than in khakis and a polo. In other words, people weren’t interested in Luna as a Native American (his experiences, humanity, etc.). They were interested in his appearance within a mystical war uniform, something that “othered” him. His CAA journal went through the realties of being an American Indian beyond dream catchers and colored beads. He begged the question that fits a wide variety of “others” which is, after learning the reality of being an “other,” do you still really want to be one? Whites have the privilege of being fascinated with another cultures reality. They trail-mix pick the pretty things and toss the rest. People within the confines of their race do not have the ability to escape their own being. Fascination with the Other is great if done respectfully but dehumanizing if romanticized.
Michaela Stock, Hope College 2020.