Tuesday, April 05, 2005

I Have a Confession to Make...

I was doing my daily blog browsing when I came upon Zombie's third installment of Ward Churchill's visit to San Francisco (hat tip: LGF). Zombie's account of Churchill at UC Berkeley put an interesting spin on his Indian heritage, or lack thereof.

The point Saito was trying to make is that the mere act of self-identifying as an Indian makes you an Indian. And anyone who tries to point this out is trying to "strip you of your identity." Because, you see, by then you're already an Indian, and thus have credibility. And white people, who know nothing about any of this, don't have credibility. Unless you're a white person who claims to be an Indian, in which case you have extra credibility. Thus the key to making the jump from white to Indian is to do it really fast when no one's paying attention, so that by the time you emerge into the public eye, you've already assumed the mantle of inviolable credibility.

Keep that commentary in mind as I spill the beans. I enrolled in one those computer technician courses at a vocational school in San Marcos, CA in 1988. The school was nothing like a Coleman or DeVry. It was strictly a low budget fly-by-night operation that went out of business under suspicious circumstances shortly after I completed the course.

Anyway, I was in the finance office applying for loans and grants to cover the $6000 tuition fees, but I only qualified for a $3700 student loan and a $1500 grant. I tell the finance lady that no, I have no friends, relatives, past employers or any other such persons who would give me the $800 needed to cover the differnce. That's when she pops the question, "You wouldn't happen to be Native American, would you?" Before I could answer, she continued, "There's a $2500 grant available for Native American students."

I looked at her with my clear blue eyes, scratched the five-o-clock shadow that formed on my chin by noon and said, "Yes, Pueblo." I started to go on with a little embellishment, but it wasn't necessary as she simply replied with a "Great!" and proceeded to process my financing.

Now I need to figure out whether it's the right time to resurrect my Indian-ness or if being Latino still offers the most benefit.

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