Gyasi Ross: It's gonna be awhile before the first Native president

Gyasi Ross. Photo from Facebook

A member of Congress posted a rhetorical yet important question during the final meeting of the Native American Council at the Democratic National Convention: When will there be a Native American president? Gyasi Ross (Blackfeet) the editor at large for Indian Country Today, offers his take on the issue:
Simply stated, the mainstream largely does not care or cannot relate to Native pain or outrage. The mainstream ignores the structural and institutional barriers, for example, that allow Native women to be raped at a rate exponentially higher than other women. It likewise ignores those same structural barriers that forbid Native nations from prosecuting outsiders who peddle drugs and/or murder our people. Those same structures then, adding insult to injury, refuse to utilize its own resources to prosecute those bad actors, allowing them to prey upon our communities with impunity.

But nobody mentions that outside of our communities. If they do mention our communities, they mention the poverty without explaining how those barriers help to create and sustain that economic poverty.

As shown above, there is a perception that Natives cannot partake in these larger conversations. As we discussed, there is a lack of empathy or understanding about our communities. When those two things are combined with the mathematical fact that Natives are a tiny percentage of the population, it doesn’t bode well for a Native rising to be President anytime soon. At some point, it’s a humanity question as it was for women, black folks, Latino/as, etc.; are Natives reflective enough of America generally to sometimes not be considered “Native” and instead just “human?”

Can a Native person represent America? Stupid question. OF COURSE. The truth is, Natives are the story of America and are more America than America. Natives are America’s dental record and thumbprint and spinal cord. You cannot intelligently tell the story of America without Native people being one of the main characters. Yet, it seems like mainstream America is a ways away from recognizing that truth.

Get the Story:
Gyasi Ross: When Will There Be a Native American President? [Part 1] ‘Sigh,’ It’s Gonna Be Awhile (Indian Country Today 7/27)

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