Choosing My Fights: When To Be The Angry Minority

Hello family and friends

I have been thinking lately. A lot. Thinking lots of things lately.

*I apologize in advance for the mess that is this blog post because my thoughts are jumbled that I cannot even form my thoughts into words but here I am. Trying anyways.

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

I am a sophomore at St. Norbert College. A place of education where I am often the only minority in the room. OFTEN the only Native American in the room. Now, I thought that I was accustomed to such places, but alas friends, I was not prepared.

A question that I ask most friends (when I am comfortable with them) is “what race did you think I was when we first meet?” I get responses such as: “Asian”, “definitely not white”, and “I don’t know Ruthie, I don’t remember”. No one friend has ever known me to be Native American just by looking at me. Which is fine- I’m okay with the way I look. But what I have gathered from my extensive research is that I appear to people as being racially ambiguous.

Racial ambiguity is something I’ve dealt with my whole life and there’s nothing that I can change about it. Okay fine. The one thing that I can’t change though is what people think about me. Or rather, what they don’t know about me.

And so, when I am in class, most people look at me and they may not know what to make of me. In multiple classes, we have discussed topics like racism, and a lot of the times- I’m the only minority. I feel obligated to speak up and speak my truth. I find myself trying to sugar coat everything I experience and I live in fear of looking like the “angry minority.”

I don’t want my classmates to think that the only thing about me is my racial background. However, due to the lack of diversity, no one else can speak from experience. I often feel as though it is my responsibility to teach those around me because no one else can. Every time I want to bring up a point in the class, I find myself thinking about how my classmates might react. If what I say might be offensive to them or if I’ll need to explain it more or if I’ll just single myself out more as “the minority”.

Not only in class- but anywhere in my life. For example, I personally don’t like being called an “Indian” by non-natives. How do I correct them politely? Or should I just shut up and accept it? Is it my responsibility to make them more cognizant of their words choices?

Can I be tired of correcting everyone?

I have a lot more complicated thoughts that are flowing around in my brain but this is where I’ll end. Perhaps I will make a series sharing the complex thoughts that are putting me into an identity crisis 🙂

Thanks for reading! and lemme know what yall think