truly, some of the shit y’all put out is egregious. claiming you’re ‘mixed’ when y’all been white on both sides for over three generations.
ancestry =/= indigeneity. the blood myths that continue to pass around are reductive and white. they falsely equate indigeneity with some measure of descendancy as the single-most or only measure of our identities without even consulting our communities.
puerto rican =/= taino. puerto rico is a multiethnic nation and implying otherwise furthers erasure. and if you weren’t raised connected, how are some of you claiming indigeneity without connecting to the community, ancestry not withstanding? the ELA which transformed PR into a ‘commonwealth’ colony of the US, and Operación Serenidad which promoted propaganda of a disingenuous tripartite model of ancestry/heritage (african, taino, and spanish) furthered a nationalist pan-PRism solely for an imperialist and capitalist agenda. motivated especially in light of fears of Cuba during the cold war.
if the purpose and people behind these projects dont concern you, you should be concerned. the erasure and social, economic, and political damage to our communities following the 1950s is frankly immeasurable. and ideas like these have continued to hold PR in a standstill for decades while the rest of the Caribbean did more than just contemplate sovereignty.
it’s not a coincidence that whenever these types of ‘taino infodumps’ begin making rounds on tumblr that folks serendipitously discover their ancestry or indigeneity.
if you’re not taino, i need you to immediately stop posting about us. you need to stop posting videos, making art, making text posts about the language or cacique, and stop reblogging posts by non-taino. these are forms of media, and because of colonialism and our closed culture, these infodumps are always grossly inaccurate.
this is misrepresentation, and opens our culture and identities to consumption. stop trying to ‘discover’ us. this is colonialist.
Indigenous families will drop their cultures in order to fit into a white society and make it good for their kids and instead of criticizing white society, people criticize them instead.
They are trying to survive. The blame is not on them.
a pattern i continue seeing are folks decrying and victim-blaming their own families for difficult choices they make. lamenting they cannot fulfill fetishistic dreams of what they believe is connecting with their heritage. i am not talking about abuse, which makes conversations like these difficult to navigate. but ignoring the realities of the socioeconomic and geographic factors families as a whole are forced to navigate. families who assimilate or leave their ancestral lands choosing what they hope is best for them and theirs, ignoring that often times there is no agency inherent in these choices. focusing on loss when they choose life over death, health over poverty, a future over violence, trafficking, substance abuse, crime. these are your living ancestors and yet some of you have no respect.
[IMAGE: Twitter post from @suey_park: “Another reminder that representation is 1) a trap 2) not an end goal. Representation often means our cultures are made consumable.”]
while circumstances differ for unrecognized groups, who struggle with protecting sacred sites and artifacts, protecting ancestral lands, and seeking autonomy, Suey Park’s comments on the new ABC sitcom Fresh Off The Boat's misrepresentation, stereotyping, and erasure are important words to keep in mind. representation matters. but it is not the end goal. while we face erasure and assimilationism, there is also privilege in not struggling with many of the issues of hypervisibility that other Indigenous groups face (i.e. human trafficking, systematic widespread state kidnapping of children from homes, wanton appropriation and misuse of our lands due to indigeneity).
im tired of seeing posts whining about how ‘we do exist’. or how the taino are ‘always forgotten’ or ‘were the first enslaved’. that is incredibly antiblack, for starters, besides being active cultivation of trauma envy. the work of rebuilding communities should be focused on the community; not merely on individual desire to solve crises of identity. but these are the same people bringing us attention and trying to bring (hyper)visibility. this erasure is intimately tied to white tourism and fetishization. there are sufficient issues with fetishization of latinxs, as well as Natives, already and folks frequently internalize these ideas, even in the Caribbean. we really don’t need more folks trying to play ‘most NDN’. especially since these people are the ones doing the fetishizing.
does anyone ever think about how disrespectful it is for people to draw our ancestors as hypersexualized women with they tiddies out? particularly when Native women historically and presently continue to face extremely high levels sexual and physical violence?
“ I came up hear from Porto Rico two years next July and I did not know how to speak a word of English. I go to school here in Kennett Square and I work hard at school and get promoted twice a year. I feel sorry of the other Porto Ricans who don’t stay in the country. If I did not have a strong will I never would have stuck this long. I hope you will permit me to remain here until I graduate, then I will go home and teach my people the ways and customs of the northern people. ”
i refuse to ever comment on other Nations’ and peoples’ definitions of indigeneity, or their criteria for membership/determination of identity such as blood quantum, mtDNA, or descendancy. this is none of my business. i ask that others respect the same right for us and other indigenous peoples.
this blog is explicitly about the taino. when i make posts, do not mistake my writing as having some colonialist notion of universality or applicability. this is about our communities, and our identities as a people. it is our sovereign right to determine who we are as people, how we are viewed, and to interpret our race and indigeneity in North America and the Caribbean.