I have been a reader of ICT for a long time and I have had the opportunity to explore the website. This is why I feel comfortable saying that that there is a lack of quality articles about Black Natives and the issues that pertain to us.
When I first saw the article “Is Chris Brown Native American?”, I assumed that there was a purpose for the question mark. I assumed that I would be reading an article about why Chris Brown thinks he might have Native American heritage or why someone else thinks this might be true. We’re at a time and a place in the pan-Native community where Black Natives face almost constant suspicion and ridicule when they claim their heritage. More than Natives who have White heritage, we are asked to prove the legitimacy of heritage. Our family stories are dismissed with accusations of Blood Myths and us being Pretendians because folks either are ignorant of our shared histories or want to distance themselves from Blackness. So, for Chris Brown to have just learned the specific tribe that his family, which is remarkable given the challenges Black folks and Black Natives have in doing this, I cringe when I see that question mark. It’s unnecessary and it casts the story under a shadow of uncertainty and suspicion. This tone continues throughout the article:
Brown was born in Tappahannock, Virginia, which is not inconsistent with the tribal affiliation he has, apparently, just learned of.
the thing that offended me was that they said Brown’s stated tribe was “consistent” with where he is from. Now knowing it is ICT, I’m triple offended by that statement because you’d think they had never heard of “relocation” by which many people are born across the country from their tribe’s reservations.
So if Brown’s family hadn’t been from a place that seemed ‘consistent’ with his heritage, then what? What then? Does that make his claim automatically unreliable? While I may be no fan of Chris Brown, his does not be disrespected in this manner. Nor do any other Black Natives. Why do we need other folks, Native or Non-Native, to validate us? It seems particularly outrageous to need this kind of ‘fact checking’ when Brown merely shared a revelation - he didn’t exactly start speaking for Native folks. This article gave me serious flashbacks to the article that was posted on ICT in January about Beyonce and her heritage.:
The “Native American” in Beyonce’s makeup (pun unavoidable) comes from he mother’s Creole heritage which, according to widely circulated profiles, includes American Indian. …. This L’Oreal commercial adds another dimension to a popular theory that Beyonce doesn’t want to identify as black. The video has inspired hundreds of comments at the blog Bossip. Most of the Bossip commenters see an ulterior motive behind Beyonce’s cataloguing of her heritage — how should Indians feel?
While no comments were left on the ICT website, discussion about that article, particularly this excerpt above took place on Tumblr. I invite you to examine one thread of critiques that were offered by Tumblr Natives that felt that this article missed the mark.
Finally, there is no need to tag this article with Rihanna’s name. That only adds an element of sensationalism that is unnecessary and is disrespectful to her. Domestic violence is a serious issue in the Native community and I’m disappointed that ICT didn’t extend their sensitivity to Rihanna.
It’s because I’m a reader and supporter of ICT that I want more from the network.