The Importance of Conversations

Last night, I had the opportunity to talk with Rebecca Nagle, writer, activist, and creator of the This Land podcast as part of Purdue University’s semester-long initiative on “Pursuing Racial Justice Together.” Everyone knows how much I love this podcast and I encourage everyone to listen to it. Tribal sovereignty is a complex issue that our own federal government doesn’t always understand , and This Land captures that complexity and makes it easy to understand. It’s one of the few podcast series I’ve listened to multiple times.

Needless to say, when the Division of Diversity and Inclusion reached out and asked me to moderate this talk, I was thrilled. Not only because I really enjoy her work, but because the opportunity to talk to other Indigenous folks around these issues is so infrequent. There are fewer than five Indigenous faculty on campus and none of them do work in my area. The ability to be in community with folks who understand, who get the underlying dynamics of colonization and racialization, who share a common history, is so vital. Particularly for those of us who spend most of our time in predominately white spaces.

The moderator set-up was interesting–I was in a studio, there were lights, I was wearing a mic, no one told me you could see I was wearing jeans–and because I wasn’t sure what I looked like on camera, I didn’t take as many notes as I wanted to. Which is too bad because Rebecca said some incredible things.

One point she made that I did jot down was “white supremacy defines itself to its own benefit.” Historically we know this to be true–one needs to look no further than Supreme Court cases that determined who is and is not “white.” And in our modern-era, white supremacy is defined in new ways, particularly through educational access and equity. Still thinking through the implications of this, so this is definitely a future conversation I need to have…

And go listen to the podcast if you haven’t yet!

(back to every Monday posting next week).

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