THE FORGOTTEN ONES

nativaIn America, racial cohesion and racial injustice is mostly a conversation about the binary racial relationship between African Americans and Caucasians. And in recent times, that conversation has evolved to include Hispanics who has become an ever-growing ethnicity and political force. But African Americans who came from Africa, Caucasians who came from Europe, and Hispanics who migrated from Mexico and South America, are all visitors to America. Before we all came, Indians or Native Americans, the true owners of the land, have been living here. And if there are people who reserves the right to call themselves true Americans, it is Native Americans.

But take a look around America’s society today and you will find it very hard to see a visible population or representation of Native Americans in America’s scheme of things. They are not represented in Hollywood. In the 50 governor mansions across the country, none of the principal occupant is a native. They are confined to reservations as if they are leprosy that should be kept at bay in order to prevent it from infecting the larger American society. And for a president whose election embodies evolution in racial relationship in America, you will think that the Obama who appointed two women to the Supreme Court and who the country went rainbow under his watch, will at the least appoint one Indian to his cabinet. But that is not to be.

I have come across so many smart native Americans. They are educated, entrepreneurship run in their blood, and they embody America’s values. And just like every other American, they love this country and have the intellectual capacity to serve in the highest echelon of the military, as state governors, as college presidents, as business leaders, and of course as the president of the United States. It beats my imagination why this country is not of a necessity tapping into the pool of talents these ethnic group presents to further its greatness. It does beat my imagination.

A month ago I met Lucius who is a Native American. I have a knack for placing people’s ethnicity and/or nationality by their looks and names. So when I shook his hand and told him I suspect he’s a native, he almost broke down in tears in ecstasy. Most folks tell him he’s Hispanic. I was the only one since he relocated to Houston to correctly place his ethnicity on first sighting. And that made him glad. Anyways, we got into a conversation, political of course. And he narrated sadly the plight of Native Americans in their own country. He told a sad story of how most reservations where his people are living are in sorry state of development. According to him, most reservations are like a third world country where there is no healthcare and poverty is widespread. I asked him why that is so. And if he has an explanation on why his people are so discriminated in their own land. And he had no plausible answer.

I will research more on why the visitors since the arrival of Christopher Columbus have chased away the landowners, and rather than re-integrate them into American society after taking over their land and its vast resources – to demonstrate the cohesion and true federalism America preaches to Iraq – we quarantine them in reservations. And unashamedly keep them away from America’s public life. And for all its worth, that is wrong.

Discrimination and racial prejudice by Caucasians against African Americans have been part of U.S. political discourse since 1776. But the discrimination both races show towards the rightful owners of the land receives only lip service in the mainstream media and U.S. national political discourse. It warrants a national conversation and the time to have that conversation to right this wrong is now.

Let the debate continue…

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