White Academics

Craven, Jim jcraven at clark.edu
Thu Jul 24 18:04:04 MDT 2003

In one of Loren's pieces he says: "back in the seventies
I was a 'colour-blind' Marxist which of course means that I
was a blind Marxist".

Well said I think.


Response Jim C: Beautifully put. I had not thought about that energy meeting
in Alberta for some time until it popped into my head while considering my
response to a previous missive. Had I come to that meeting wearing braids, a
ribbon shirt and regalia, that bureaucrat most certainly would have not sat
next to me or shared his question about "what do these fucking Indians want
and what are they 'whining' about?" He felt safe to share his virulent
racism--and at a meeting he knew would be attended by Indian activists. I
should add that he later asked me to watch his briefcase (open) while he
went to the can; of course I was more than happy to oblige ;-) and he would
have never made such a request had my "race" or allegiances been more

I'm not suggesting that white radicals beat themselves up over the sought
and unsought, overt and hidden advantages gained through membership in a
dominant group they did not choose to belong to; I am only suggesting that
we be aware that in a highly racist, sexist, class-biased, homophobic
system, social being does indeed shape consciousnees and knowledge/ignorance
about critical realities no matter how much we protest and attempt to
transcend some of the limits--and limiting aspects--of race, class,
ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation etc. And further it is also true, as
was previously alluded to by David Quarter, that membership in a particular
group does not confer some automatic "credentials" or "expertise" in terms
of automatic special awareness about the diverse histories, realities,
issues, sensibilities of that particular group. Being Indian by "blood" does
not confer some special insights about "Indianness" per se (we have our own
traitors, those fundamentally ignorant of the realities of Indian Country
etc) just as non-membership of a particular group does not automatically
confer lack of knowledge and awareness about some of the realities and
issues of the group of which one is not a member.

Jim C.

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