Top scholar on American Indians accused of faking Indian heritage

At a moment in history when academia’s words proclaim that “white privilege” rules our society, we see evidence in the behavior of academics that real privilege accrues to minorities that claim victimhood.

Ward Churchill, move over.  Another, more prominent professor teaching and writing about Native Americans is being widely accused of faking Indian heritage.  [Cough! Elizabeth Warren.]  Blake Neff of the Daily Caller News Foundation writes:

Andrea Smith, a professor of media and cultural studies at the University of California at Riverside, has started to draw attention in the wake of the Dolezal incident from those who say she has for years falsely claimed to have Cherokee blood. The case is arguably much more significant, though, because while Dolezal was a relatively undistinguished academic at Eastern Washington University, Smith is recognized as a significant scholar in her field. She routinely appears as a featured scholar at major events and has written books that were well-received by her colleagues (though others may question the broader worth of works like Conquest: Sexual Violence And American Indian Genocide).

Her career has largely been defined by her supposed American Indian identity. Besides her academic work, she also helped create the organization INCITE!, which describes itself as a collection of “radical feminists of color.” She’s also been active in the Indian group Women of All Red Nations (WARN).

But according to many, Smith’s Cherokee identity is a complete sham. Much of the attack on Smith is coming from an anonymous, but well-sourced, Tumblr blog, Andrea Smith Is Not A Cherokee. She has also been called out in The Daily Beast.

There was an era in American history when being white conferred privilege, compared to African-Americans and other minorities.  In that era, some light-skinned blacks “passed,” pretending to be white.  A heart-rending 1949 movie directed by Elia Kazan, titled Pinky, depicts the agony of a light-skinned black woman faking being white, once she falls in love with a white man and must decide whether or not to tell him.

Are there any cases of black people pretending to be white these days?  Does it confer any advantage in any major institutions?  Some, no doubt, will claim that black people are forced to “act white” in order to remain unmolested while shopping or interacting with police or in other situations.

But what does “acting white” really mean?  How about the teenagers pulled over for “driving while redneck” that Rosslyn Smith writes about today?  Impolite, raucous, threatening behavior under the guise of any ethnic or cultural heritage tends to evoke hostile responses.  The notion that blacks must be inauthentic in order to study hard, be polite and articulate, and otherwise meet society’s expectations for civil behavior is the most racist harmful idea imaginable.

The next time some academic spouts “white privilege” nonsense, ask that person to name people busted for pretending to be white.

At a moment in history when academia’s words proclaim that “white privilege” rules our society, we see evidence in the behavior of academics that real privilege accrues to minorities that claim victimhood.

Ward Churchill, move over.  Another, more prominent professor teaching and writing about Native Americans is being widely accused of faking Indian heritage.  [Cough! Elizabeth Warren.]  Blake Neff of the Daily Caller News Foundation writes:

Andrea Smith, a professor of media and cultural studies at the University of California at Riverside, has started to draw attention in the wake of the Dolezal incident from those who say she has for years falsely claimed to have Cherokee blood. The case is arguably much more significant, though, because while Dolezal was a relatively undistinguished academic at Eastern Washington University, Smith is recognized as a significant scholar in her field. She routinely appears as a featured scholar at major events and has written books that were well-received by her colleagues (though others may question the broader worth of works like Conquest: Sexual Violence And American Indian Genocide).

Her career has largely been defined by her supposed American Indian identity. Besides her academic work, she also helped create the organization INCITE!, which describes itself as a collection of “radical feminists of color.” She’s also been active in the Indian group Women of All Red Nations (WARN).

But according to many, Smith’s Cherokee identity is a complete sham. Much of the attack on Smith is coming from an anonymous, but well-sourced, Tumblr blog, Andrea Smith Is Not A Cherokee. She has also been called out in The Daily Beast.

There was an era in American history when being white conferred privilege, compared to African-Americans and other minorities.  In that era, some light-skinned blacks “passed,” pretending to be white.  A heart-rending 1949 movie directed by Elia Kazan, titled Pinky, depicts the agony of a light-skinned black woman faking being white, once she falls in love with a white man and must decide whether or not to tell him.

Are there any cases of black people pretending to be white these days?  Does it confer any advantage in any major institutions?  Some, no doubt, will claim that black people are forced to “act white” in order to remain unmolested while shopping or interacting with police or in other situations.

But what does “acting white” really mean?  How about the teenagers pulled over for “driving while redneck” that Rosslyn Smith writes about today?  Impolite, raucous, threatening behavior under the guise of any ethnic or cultural heritage tends to evoke hostile responses.  The notion that blacks must be inauthentic in order to study hard, be polite and articulate, and otherwise meet society’s expectations for civil behavior is the most racist harmful idea imaginable.

The next time some academic spouts “white privilege” nonsense, ask that person to name people busted for pretending to be white.