DiversityJobs.com

Native American quits soul-killing work; takes heart writing on Indian issues

What is your job title? How many years of experience do you have in that field?

I am currently a freelance writer and educator. I’ve been writing as a freelancer for about 9 years and volunteering in the local school district for about a year and a half.

How would you describe yourself using three adjectives only?

Multi – faceted; complex; free-spirited

What is your ethnicity and gender? What kinds of discrimination have you experienced?

I am a woman who considers herself multiethnic. My mother was Native American from the Colville Indian Reservation in Washington State and my father was first-generation Sicilian American.

Being a mixed blood native person comes with a kind of discrimination that most people don’t recognize. It has to do with having my authenticity as Native American person questioned on all fronts. Americans (and others) are conditioned to think that there is a model “Indian” person; someone who looks a certain way, or dresses a certain way or lives on a reservation. The fact is, the process of settler colonialism (what the United States is based on) was designed to eliminate Indians.

It’s done this in a multitude of ways, and one of those ways is to racialize native identity by measuring it in terms of blood quantum. This means that someone who is less than a “full blood Indian” is less than authentic as an Indian person. It’s a constant process of minimalization.

It’s the opposite of the one drop rule for black people-where one drop of black blood (historically) made you black by law. When you’re a mixed blood Indian there is a sense that you don’t fit fully in the Indian world or the white world. There’ve also been plenty times I’ve been called Pocahontas, too, in a pejorative sense.

Where you work, how well does your company do ‘equal opportunity’? Is management white and male? How are minorities perceived and treated?

I am self-employed, so that does not apply to me for the most part. However, I will say that I’ve been trying to get hired on in the school district in a paying job. The community where I live is predominately upper-middle-class white. I’ve applied numerous times for jobs that I’m very well qualified for and so far I’m not seeing a real commitment to diversity.

If you’ve experienced discrimination, in what ways have you responded and what response worked best?

In terms of the kind of discrimination I have described above, I have tried for decades to figure out a way to respond to it and I still haven’t figured out a good response! Most recently, I’ve written a blog post about it and referred people to that.
People don’t like to see themselves as discriminatory or in any way racist.

Discrimination can show up in so many subtle ways that people can’t even see in themselves. It’s sort of been a personal project for me to be able to figure out how to gently educate people in these issues. But it took me a long time just to come to terms with the fact that it was a type of discrimination that I was experiencing.

Going back to school and getting a degree in Native American studies was a huge help for me in this regard. There, because I went to school with many other native people, I was able to learn about this in an intellectual way but also understand the kinds of experiences other Indian people have had.

Would you describe what you do on a typical day? Are there any common myths you want to correct about what you do?

On an average day, I get up and get a cup of coffee and go to my computer and start looking for a job. I look for freelance writing jobs and I look for full-time permanent jobs. I’ve been doing this for over a year. I spend a huge portion of my day on the computer, not just looking for jobs but also fulfilling the jobs that I do have.

My main gig right now is writing for a website called About.com, which is owned by the New York Times. They have a new category (which is under the Education category) called Native American history and I was hired to be the topic writer there. I was pretty fortunate to be hired; it was a pretty intense vetting process and I had to compete against an unknown number of people.

But it is a great way for me to put my education to use and get paid for it (if minimally). I have to write eight articles a month and several blog posts to promote the articles as well. So I spend a good amount of time doing that. When I’m not doing that I’m surfing or dancing (I’m studying hula).

As far as myths, I don’t know what kind of myths there are about freelance writers but maybe one of them is that there is good money to be made. That hasn’t been my experience… The opposite is more likely true. Like all other industries, writing jobs are outsourced to developing nations where they can work at much cheaper rates. It seems to me the days of writing for a dollar a word are long gone.

On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What would it take to increase that rating?

There are advantages to freelancing, the obvious ones being the ability to work from home and have total control of your own time. So I would have to rate it as a five. What would increase it is if I had a steady stream of better paying jobs. Or if I could get a job more closely aligned to my education. But that’s pretty tough given where I live, not to mention the current state of the economy. I live in California where it’s been very hard hit and education jobs for people with ethnic studies backgrounds are pretty hard to come by, if not nonexistent.

Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?

Yes, and this is sort of the back story that I will tell.

I had a long career in the dental field as a dental assistant and office manager. It was a career I chose as a very young person while still in high school. I knew I didn’t want to go to college because I hated school but I also knew I needed some kind of job training and back in those days there was a program in the public schools that trained kids for certain kinds of somewhat menial professions. I chose the dental assistant program as the default career option. It worked for me for quite a while because I could always get a job, but it was pretty miserable work; very stressful and thankless. I did it for well over 15 years.

One of the reasons it was such a bad job is because dentists are notoriously bad to work for, at least they were back then. A little over 20 years ago I was working for one of those guys and I was so stressed out after three years of working for him that it was making me sick, physically. I was waking up in the morning with migraine headaches, making it really hard to function. I quit my job and I was fortunate enough to be able to collect disability for about a year. This bought me time, time to figure out a new path.  

In that time I learned how to do Native American beadwork and leather work, like my ancestors did. Long story short, I was able to turn it into a career. I got good enough at it and figured out how to make a business of it that I supported myself for over 10 years this way. I developed a modest but national level of recognition because I won many awards for my work in the most prestigious Native American art events in the country. It helped validate my tenuous sense of identity as a Native American woman, and it brought my mother pride as well.

I was also raising a son as a single mother for most of those years. It worked out well for me because I was traveling a lot in those days doing the art show circuit which took me all over the country. There were some years I was traveling 25 weekends or more; my son would go to his dad’s house on the weekends while I was out traveling and during the week I was able to be at home with him. But my son’s father passed away, leaving me a sole parent when he was nine years old. By then I had become very active in local Native American political issues and had begun writing articles in the local newspaper about some of those issues. Knowing I would have to have a degree in order to be taken seriously as a writer, and also being burned out from my career as an artist, I decided to move to New Mexico and go back to school. That’s when I entered Native American studies program at the University of New Mexico at 47 years of age.

I stayed in school for six straight years and got a master’s degree. While I was a senior I reconnected with an old love from my past and ended up marrying him when I was in grad school. My son and I moved to back to Southern California (where I was born and raised) to be with him. It’s been two years now, and about seven months since I graduated.

So that’s how I got to where I am now. My plan had been to stay in school for a PhD and then get out and teach Native American studies. But at some point it became clear to me that staying in school was not going to benefit me so for now I’ve decided not to go back. Never in my wildest streams did I imagine I would ever move back to Southern California and marry my lost love.

But here I am, happily married, and having to reinvent myself once again in less than ideal circumstances, career-wise. It’s been a real gift but at the same time I’ve had to make some big personal sacrifices. That’s what I’m trying to find my way through now.

Does this job move your heart, how so? If not, what would?

My About.com moves my heart, yes. And when I can find other writing jobs in Indian country (sometimes I write magazine articles for native publications) then I feel like I’m doing the work I’m supposed to be doing. But sometimes out of financial necessity I take jobs that I don’t really enjoy.

When I’m writing about native topics I feel like I have the power to change the way people understand history or dispel popular misconceptions about Native American people. It’s really gratifying to me when somebody I know reads my work and says “I didn’t know that and I really learned something.” I’ve always had an internal need to make a difference in the world in some way. Maybe it’s just impacting someone’s individual life for a moment; but now it’s more like wanting to make my mark in the world as an artist or a writer. An elder/teacher of mine once taught me that the goal of life was to leave a legacy. I suppose that’s what I am striving to do.

I was hired for one project recently that was funded by the Canadian government, for an organization that does work in the realm of mental health and addiction in Aboriginal communities. I had to write a literature review and report of my findings; it was an opportunity to insert a very indigenous perspective and draw on cutting-edge scholarly work in the field. It was very challenging but I felt like I was doing work that meant something.

I mentioned that I work in the local school district as a volunteer. What I do is act as an assistant to the district’s Indian education director, who has created a Native American museum that is a teaching tool for the teachers. We give tours to school kids and teach teachers about Native American culture and history. We are trying to set up a new exhibit that teaches about ecology and environmentalism from the Native American perspective, but raising the money for that has been a problem.

If we can ever raise the money, the goal was to create a paying position for which I would be the director. But that’s a lot easier said than done. It may be possible that I would fill the position of the Indian education director for the district if and when the current director retires, which she says will be doing in the next year or two. So I am kind of holding out for that possibility. It’s still only a part-time position it wouldn’t pay all that much, but it would help.

Why do you get up and go to work each day? Can you give an example of something that made you feel really good or proud?

Well, writing is very creative work and I’ve found that I need that creativity in my life. I thrive on it. I know what it’s like to do work that is soul-killing and I really don’t want to have to do that anymore if I can help it. So I get up in the morning, go downstairs to my computer, and begin another search for jobs and hope that this day will present something new, with some better financial potential. The only missing piece for me right now is a good paycheck! And in the meantime I enjoy the rewards of writing content for and enjoying surfing and dancing.

What did you learn the hard way in this job and what happened specifically that led up to this lesson?

I’d say that I’m still just trying to find the perfect career. I don’t know if that really exists, because I’ve been through several different career paths in my 50-some years. For me the path has been a process of growing and changing as a person and it is imperative that my career reflect who I am as that person. If I’ve learned anything the hard way, it is that there is no one perfect career or job that will last for my entire lifetime.

In some ways I wish that I could be the kind of person who could be satisfied with one career or job, but I think that is pretty unrealistic for most people these days. Plus, I’ve never been driven much by money. I’ve always been driven more by principle and the need to have a good balance between my personal life and my professional life.

How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?

I didn’t get out of college with the intent of being a full time freelance writer, although I have always wanted to continue to write, and write professionally. So even though it’s not ideal, I’m doing what I do now because there is a certain level of convenience. What I do for a living has to fit in with the rest of my life as a married person, living in the particular community I live in (which happens to be a pretty great place to live, but geographically difficult in several ways in terms of the ideal career for me).

I did a lot of research on the Internet about what it takes to make a living as a freelance writer. I stumbled into one thing that would lead to another thing and another thing. Now most of my work comes from Elance.com and occasional other sources but everything I do is Internet-based.

I don’t know that I would say that I would change anything. I could not have foreseen how my life would change and when life hands you opportunities you take them if you’re smart. Life handed me love unexpectedly and I took it even though it derailed my plans. It’s like John Lennon said, “life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”

That’s what happened to me. And it’s good, but I suppose I’m just sort of waiting for the final pieces of the puzzle to fall into place. And that would be the ideal job or career, or at least a little more consistent money.

How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance?

One of the beautiful things about what I do is that it’s very low stress (except for the fact that I feel I don’t make enough money). Being able to make my own schedule is awesome and I don’t have someone staring over my shoulder telling me what to do all the time. I love working at home and I have a lot of freedom to do other things. So I would say that I have a very comfortable and healthy work/life balance.

What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough and/or happy living within your means?

I have read a report which claims that freelance writers on average make between $29 and $59 per hour, but I have my doubts about that. Maybe I’m just doing something wrong. Sometimes I get jobs that give me that kind of margin, but more often than not I don’t.

If I wasn’t married and had to support myself on my own with what I’m currently doing, I would not be able to, especially where I live now. It scares me to think that with my education I’m making less money than I’ve ever made, but that’s the current reality for me.

What kind of challenges do you face and what makes you just want to quit?

My biggest challenge is that my education is not suited for where I live. It would be easier for me to get a job in Indian country if I was living in New Mexico or some other place where there are more Indians. But that would mean I would have to move and I’m not willing to do that. So I am forced to figure it out based on where I live now.

What makes me want to quit is discouragement. I fill out dozens of applications every month and it is very rare that I even get a response. But if I don’t try I certainly don’t have a chance.

What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?

As far as being a freelance writer, I think the more education you have the more credibility you have. Not only can you specialize in writing about your academic field, you also demonstrate that you have the ability to research which is a really important skill in writing pretty much anything. Obviously you have to have good writing skills. I often come across jobs that specify people with an English or journalism background.

Another really good skill to have is the understanding of SEO, which is search engine optimization. The more computer skills you have the better off you are as well.

What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?

I really started about nine years ago writing op-ed pieces and news stories for a community newspaper, for free. I was just thrilled to be published and that somebody thought what I had to say was worth printing. Once you begin establishing a body of published work you have something to refer to for potential clients. You have to have as well-rounded a portfolio as possible.

Internet based freelance writing is a really fast growing field right now. There are more and more new websites coming online that specialize in connecting freelancers with jobs. There are websites called content mills that are good places to start as a professional freelancer.

That’s what I did; I got hired on by Demand Media, which owns Ehow.com, Livestrong.com and others. I wrote articles for Ehow.com, which only pays about $15 per article but it’s a good way to get started writing professionally and gives you good experience working with an editor. Most of the freelancing sites and content mills are very low-paying jobs but it’s a good way to start.

Another thing I would tell a friend if they wanted to pursue a career as a freelance writer is to learn how to use a dictation program. I started having a lot of trouble with my wrists because I was typing so much and you can really damage them. But learning how to use a dictation program really saves you.

How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?

I don’t take much vacation time at all. I really don’t like to travel very much anymore because I spent so much time traveling for a living, and I hate dealing with airports. I live in a Southern California beach community which is the kind of place that people come to vacation. I spend a lot of time on the beach and in the ocean so I really don’t feel a whole lot of need to get away because I love where I live. I have a pretty laid-back lifestyle, I must say, so I really don’t feel the need to get away much.

If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?

Wildest dreams? What I’m doing now – only making a lot more money at it. I’d also like to be working in an academic or educational environment, maybe teaching part-time.

 

DiversityJobs.com

147 comments

  • I am not Native American, but I sympathize with the author about being multiethnic. I am part Black but because I don’t “look Black” no one accepts this part of my heritage. Because I am such a mix and have so many part somethings people sometimes get frustrated and say “oh you’re just everything!”, denying my ethnic heritages because it is “too complicated/confusing”.

  • I am Black and Native American along with white. Where I live people do not really dress like me or have my type of style in some ways and I always get stared at. Or When I went to high school I have long hair, but I look fully black people not knowing what other race I really am they ask is that your real hair.
    It is hard to get a job in the field that I want to work in because I am black I have applied to this company plenty of times in the areas I know I am qualified in over and over and over still never heared anything because when I walked in the company all I saw were whites I couldn’t even speak to the hiring manager.
    All I want is a good job that is going to hire me because I qualify not based on color or how much education I have. So I stoped looking for a job in the medical filed for awhile and turned to customer service or telemarketing, but I know I am much better than these job and I want to show my skills. I am not saying customer service or telemarketing jobs are not good becaue they are it has gotten me by so I can provide for my mom and sister and pay car note and insurance, but now I am unemployed.

  • I am a Puerto Rican 30 something. As I read the authors story, I could really relate to her experiences. Especially when she wrote of the subtle discrimination people face. It is never anything overt but its there and it lingers. Like the author, I feel like not much can be done to stop it from happening at the moment, but I try to change peoples opinions by my example. I try to live a good life showing others that I don’t fit that stereo type you have of me, my ethnicity, or gender.

    Sometimes I feel that most of the discrimination comes from my lack of knowledge in an area. For instance, I am finishing my bachelors degree in Anthropology, I am hoping to continue into my masters program and hopefully into a PhD. I am only a one of a handful of people who will have earned a bachelors in my family. I will be the first in my immediate family to attempt a Masters Program and only the second person in my family to have aspirations of completing a Phd. With so little examples to follow, I find myself at a disadvantage not knowing the process of applying, where to begin, and who to speak with in progressing forward.In these areas those who can take the opportunity to slight you they will. They can accomplish this just by making the process a little bit harder. Sometimes they just omit a piece of information that can be helpful. Most of the time the information comes out eventually and is casually dismissed as an oversight of the omission. It can be very discouraging. While this alone is enough to discourage many people, I find it only makes me more determined. I owe this determination to my family, I am very lucky to have their support. Although they may not have much knowledge to help in the process, their encouragement and positiveness keeps me strong on this up- hill climb.

  • I am an African American
    female and have experienced discrimination my entire life. I overcame obstacles
    by continuing to stay focused on my goals and keeping a positive attitude.
    Discrimination is a part of society that will always hinder relationship growth-
    one must rise above it and mentor others to ensure that discrimination is
    minimized. I personally have been employed with the same company over 18 years
    and witnessed diversity enhancements on the job. I plan to open my own business
    in the future and will have diversity training for my employees.

  • I’m also a Native American, and I can relate to your story. My mother is full-blood Native American belonging to both the Ho-Chunk Nation and Lower Sioux tribe. My father is Caucasian. When you talked about facing discrimination that people don’t realize, that really hit home with me. When I was a waitress, the most common question that I received from my tables would be “What are you?”. I knew they were referring to my race, but I thought that was a very interesting way to phrase it.

    Growing up, my siblings and I faced a lot of similar discrimination because we lived in a predominantly white neighborhood. People called me names like Pocahontas, and Corn. During an archery unit someone told my sister to “hit the bulls eye Squanto”. Even into adulthood, people ask if my family lives on a reservation. It’s incredible what comes out of educated adults’ mouths.

  • I can relate to the kind of discrimination you describe,
    about not being “authentic.” I am a white Hispanic.

    I first started encountering problems when I was a child
    filling out school forms. I would have to choose in between marking myself down
    as “White, not of Hispanic origin” and “Hispanic, not White.” Growing up
    speaking both languages, growing up in both American and Panamanian schools, I
    did not know how to respond. Which part of me should I deny?

    When I was working on the 2010 census I was so excited to
    see that race and ethnicity were listed separately, but was disheartened
    completing the census. Because race is self-identified, I could not simply fill
    out the form for the family I visited. I asked people for their race. Many
    people of Hispanic origin were upset that Hispanic was not listed as a race,
    and they did not know how to identify themselves on paper. This was hard for me
    because I am as fully Hispanic as any person who is browner than me. In fact,
    because Spanish was my first language and I had to learn English, I believe
    myself to be more “ethnic” than Hispanics I have met that have never spoken the
    language and have no connections to their home country. Still, I recognize
    their claim to the title and I wish they would recognize mine.

    I have had African-Americans tell me that they hate Hispanics,
    seeing my white skin and thinking I would not find their words offensive. I
    have experienced my white father and my white husband make jokes about “taco-benders”
    and “wet-backs.” I have had friends of several races be surprised that I don’t
    support this issue or that, thinking that my ethnic background should also
    define my politics.

    It has been so frustrating.

  • This goes to show that discrimination still exits subliminally in this society. We all may not see it, but it still happens.

  • I like the idea of a “freelance” occupation. Freedom to expound on existing talents without the inhibition of 9-5. It’s important for me to master my work and not have my work master me.

  • I 23 years old and I am a biracial american. I have felt discriminated against at times being called things like half-breed or even being alienated from my african american peers as they referred to me as “white” or just not like them. Then at the same time not feeling that I completely fit in with my white peers.

    I enjoyed this story because I experienced and shift in careers similar to this. I Worked a high stress job which eventually led to health problems and difficulty with school. Afraid to quit in fear that I would lose my apartment and lively hood with no money. With much resistance from family and friends, I finally decided to quit my stressful job and find something better-because I deserved better. With low self esteem throughout my life it was sometimes hard to believe that there could be something better for me out there.

    However, after many months of struggle and unemployment and thoughts that no one would hire me, I finally got back on my feet with two stress-less jobs that I love. I am also pursuing a career in the arts which before I avoided because of my lack of confidence in my talents and abilities. I think that self esteem issues caused by discrimination growing up leads to these types of unhappinesses in life- sticking with a job you hate because you don’t feel you deserve better or choosing a career you settled for just because you don’t think that you are good enough to do what you really enjoy.

  • I love that the women in the story is self employed and has very little stress in her life. She has here own schedule and that is really convenient when having a child.
    My work life is very scheduled but my school life is not so much. I love being able to do my homework at anytime before 2 am. Online school has taken the stress away from having a day to day schedule of going to school every day.
    I also like the part of finding the perfect career. It is hard to find the right job and the right people to hire you for what you are truly passionate about. I guess waiting to find the perfect career takes time and patience.

  • I am not a woman and I am not Native American. But I am Hispanic and I know what it is like to experience discrimination. Many people view Hispanics as “dirty and lazy.” It is quite sad. I myself am a very hard worker and I keep myself clean. Stereotypes and discrimination are very hurtful and should not occur. Discrimination is wrong.

  • As a Native American female I can relate to many points within this article. Although I have not worked in the work force as an adult, I share some of the same concerns. I’m currently in my second year of college and face the point on choosing a career. Should I choose a career that I know I will enjoy and love but know I will struggle to make ends met financially? Or do I choose a career that I know I won’t be happy doing but will pay the bills. Being able to support a family is one of my top goals but right beside it is my goal to do something I love to do. Because like Confucius said “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” So I hope in the future that the job I choose will pay me with the reward by feeding my soul even if it means that I won’t be able to splurge on the non-necessities in life.

  • i am also native american and this story is very inspirational to me, just to know that she went back and continued her education at the age of 47 this give me so much hope and courage to keep going forward with my education and to find a career that i both love and can afford to take care of my family on my own with.

  • I am also a Native American female of the Tohono O’odham Nation and her story hits home for most individuals who try and make it through life with many obstacles, including discrimination. I worked through my years after high school and when I decided to go to college it was very hard working full time, taking care of family, and trying to go to school. After twenty years I decided to give college another try and found that online school was the best option and so far I have earned an Associates degree, now working on my Bachelors degree.
    I was the first to graduate college in my family and worked hard through tough times, such as losing family members, dealing with family emergencies, being overwhelmed, and just the average procrasting but made it this far. Now looking to get back into the workforce is another challenge during these tough times and helping pay for college is becoming overwhelming as well.
    I feel the need to make a change in someone’s life after I made that change to continue to go to college. We all need a chance to prove that we can make a difference if we have a chance.

  • Although I am not a Native American, this article is truly inspirational. It makes me rethink the whole idea about discrimination. As an Asian in a White dominant school, I’ve been called “Jackie Chan” and “Chop Sticks.” Her choice of continuing her education is commendable and it has inspired me to do my best at my education.

  • I found your post very humbling, thank you for sharing. I also empathized directly with your background and your calling as a writer. I myself am of “mixed” blood – half of my family being white settlers from Europe and the other being Mexican-indigenous. I also follow my heart as a writer, particularly pursuing issues of race, identity, and social discrimination of ethnic minorities.

    What I love most of all, along with your drive and determination, is your way of transcending “soul-killing” work for that which moves you and, in turn, moves others.

  • I am an African American woman who understands what it feels
    like to face discrimination all your lifetime.
    Your story is so inspiring! I
    love how you took skills learned in your previous careers, and leveraged them (with
    the help of education) to get the career you wanted. Although you’re not rich, I know the
    priceless feeling of satisfaction you must feel by fighting racial stereotyping.

    I do struggle with many types of discrimination – from those
    who are not Black, as well as those who are!
    Many people do not speak about this– but many people of color discriminate
    against each other, even though others see them as all being Black (i.e.
    African, African American, Bahamian, etc.).

    I am using my background in human resources as I get my
    doctorate in adult education and leadership.
    I love using what I learn about how adults learn to better teach them
    about the importance of diversity and inclusion in my new career in management consulting
    (focusing on human capital)

  • I too can relate to this article being that I am also a “mixed blood” and face discrimination from both general society and individuals on the reservation. I have gone through experiences where I had to face not only discrimination of being an “Indian” but being part white. It has been a tough journey to make identification on both the reservation and gerneral society.
    Due to the fact that I do love my Indian people, I ultimatly want to serve the people of my reservation. There is always issues that need to be addressed amoungst my people, and in doing so I would like to grant write with skills that would bring in the funding we would need to set up an originazation that will help people become more independent (sovereign) as not only as individuals but as a Nation. With this, it needs to start with the healing of the 500 years of oppression and genoside. It has to start with the individual sovereignty then move toward a govrrnment concept of sovereign. This article will give me the idea of the obsticles of a writer and gives me an personalized outlook of the sacrifices I will be willing to make.

  • I recently had the opportunity to work with a professor of mine on an article he was writing about decolonizing methodologies for the humanities – essentially, we were working on addressing the sort of bias and discrimination that shows up in research, particularly when white/Caucasian academics are writing about minorities – especially indigenous or so-called “Third World” peoples. A lot of work is being done right now by Native, Indigenous, and Aboriginal writers and academics to push that envelope – to fight for research that respects them as people as well as their cultures, lands, and traditions.

    It was very exciting to be able to help with that and it was the first formal academic writing I had done. We wrote specifically about the pushback from Native communities in regards to the Occupy Wall Street movement (search for “Decolonize Wall Street” to get a look at some of what we were drawing from) but also about the experience of working to fight our own prejudices and biased cultural lenses – the effort to decolonize our own thinking and writing. I don’t think we’re there yet, but we definitely learned a lot and wanted to share what we’d learned with the rest of the academic community.

    I hope the future holds more equality for Native and Indigenous people in all areas, but particularly in my own field of academic research and writing. I fully intend to keep fighting for the rights of people categorized as Other to be heard and respected.

  • I can relate to this article because I have learned that a happy worker is a good worker and I have been passed over for promotions because I didn’t look the part.

  • I know how it feels when being discriminated only because of your color and ethnicity. You have such a good back round in writing and tell people rejected you because of your color. Now the world needs a workforce full of diversity. I read many patients story in occupation therapy that many therapist reject the therapy because their patient is living in a unsafe community. Status level, Color, background all need to stop in this world because one day people will work with all different kinds of people.

  • This article is an inspiration. It is a reminder to not give up on your dreams and that although the process may seem long, there is an award at the finish line. Being a Native American, you do feel the discrimination and one most important thing of all is there’s not enough support for your decisions. This article was a great reminder to myself to keep continuing my education.

  • Dina, Your story is inspirational! The many aspects of your life have brought you to where you are now, a woman of strength and integrity. You inspire me.

  • I am a Black woman who constantly feels discriminated against. People constantly say that We as Blacks need to stop saying that everything is or everyone is racist. Do I believe that everything is based upon race? Of course not! But does race still determine a lot of people’s view points? Yes! I live in a city that is considered a metropolitan city, therefore, more diverse. Maybe it is as far as the number of Blacks, Hispanics, Arabs, but we still do not lead the way in the business world. I am in the legal field and sometimes I feel as if I will never get an opportunity to do anything but become a police officer or correctional officer (those are praise worthy careers), but I want the opportunity to do more and it seems as if the limit as been met for Black females within the top white legal firms. I feel your struggles and concern.s

  • Your life sounds like a very wild train ride. I’m in my fourth year of college and can’t imagine where I would be if I had started on a career path right out of high school as you did. I am always looking towards the future, but I worry that I will stumble and fall when I get there. You seem to have had it a lot rougher, and you seem to have figured out just how to make life how you want it all on your own. You are a true inspiration.

  • You are a truely inspiring woman. I am also mixed race Native American. My mother is full Cherokee and was the first in that side of my family to move off of the Cherokee Nation Indian Reservation in Tahlequah. My father is a Hungarian Jew, and probably several other races; his side of my family has moved around a lot.

    I really like what you had to say about your career and that you have experienced soul-killing work. Though I have had different experiences from you, I have experienced been being called Pocahontas in that way and have been discriminated in the past by both my Native American family, for being too white, and by people in various jobs that I have had based on stereotypes about Native Americans.
    The most inspiring thing I take from this is that you would still do what you are doing now if you could “write your own ticket.” I am currently going to college to hopefully work in an art involved career that is also in an academic/educational environment. I really like that you know what you want to do and it is something you can truely be happy at.

  • I think that you are very brave to talk about how discrimination has impacted your life and how you have overcome it to move forward in your life is inspiring! I also admire how insightful you are regarding what works for you life. It is very brave to allow yourself to take a chance on love again and then uproot your life and that of your child’s to pursue it. As a racially mixed woman, I have also faced discrimination. Like you I am mixed with a lot of Native American from both parents who are also racially mixed. However, I am mixed with African American, Asian, and a little Irish/Scottish. I have always been treated like I am not quite “Black” enough by my Black family and I am ignored by my Native American family members, so I understand some of the pain you may have experienced. I am glad someone spoke about this issue. I think most Americans who have been in this country for generations do not understand that what is on the outside truly does not mean anything. So many of us are mixed with other races and nationalities that discrimination is pointless. Just because you look like one race does not mean you are not mixed with other races. I am sure if we shook most Americans family tree other races and nationalities would surely fall out of it!

  • Your story and experiences are truly inspirational as I too find it difficult sometimes to try and advance professionally, but then be cast aside or ignored in companies that boast equal opportunity. I am very happy you have found you niché with your writing and I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors! Cheers!

  • You
    have a great story to tell. I have taken notes on how I can become a writer and
    be in charge of what I write. Job satisfaction is very important to me.

    As
    you mention there are advantages to freelancing. Having total control would be
    important to me if I were a full-time writer. It is important to make time that
    does not involve outside world distractions in order to be a good writer.

    You
    definitely provide some great food for thought for an aspiring writer. I also
    live in California. I am pursuing my Bachelor’s degree to become a teacher. I
    do understand how difficult it will be once I am ready to work in my field.

    I
    can relate to you in that I have went from loving writing to trying to find a
    career in it to then applying my skills of teaching writing to students.

    I
    like that you mention that you did not know what you wanted to do, but you made
    a choice to work in the dentistry field. I too took a job right out of high
    school in fear that I would be left behind.

    Not
    everyone should know what he or she wants to do with the rest of their life by
    age 17. What does everyone think further? Great topic!

  • What an amazing story. As said below it was very inspirational. As a person who is struggling with school and wanting to be a writer herself I found this very helpful. I felt as though I related with the story. It was almost like my future life was being told within this article. I too feel as though I am going through life stressing out and not doing what I love to do. I am going to school majoring in Public Health, as I go in it I feel like, “yes, it can help people but is it what I really want?” I loved how you quoted Mr. Lennon. It really struck a cord for me, I really hope that I fall into a career I love to do. Thank you for sharing your story. It has opened my eyes.

  • This story is probably one of the very few inspirational stories I’ve read in quite awhile. I hardly ever come across another Native American who wants to help benefit our people. It’s crazy how similar her dreams are with mine. No matter how small the effort or impact on the Native community, she is willing to help her people. She sought a higher education while keeping true to her native side. This is something I find amazing. As a Native American, this is exactly what I want to do someday. I’m currently in college and I also have the dream to help my people in some manner in hopes to create a sort of unity among the different nations.

    She also went with something she loves doing. For the most part, I hear people pursuing careers in what would pay a lot of money and not something they are truly passionate about. I really like this story.

  • Thank you for sharing this story. I find it truly motivating for me, as an African American male, to
    push myself even harder towards my dreams and goals.

  • There are many aspects of your story that I completely agree with. I am a 22 year old Native American (Navajo) student studying hydrology. First off, I know that I want to go back and help my tribe (and all tribes) with water litigation and management, but I know that it’s not what I want to do for the rest of my life. There are many other professions I believe I am meant to involve myself in so I agree that there is not one sole career people are going to do for the rest of their lives. I also connected with you when you said you are not driven by making money (although in our world today it is something we need to survive, unfortunately), because I have the same mentality. For me personally, I could care less about making money because God has always provided for me as a student, and when I am doing his will I have nothing to worry about. The reward of making a contribution to Indian Country is a reward in itself. The reason I bring up my faith is because I’m sure you have faith that a job opportunity will arise, and it seems like it has with your job working with Demand Media.

    In the beginning of your story it really struck a chord when you mentioned you faced simply claiming mixed-blood heritage. Personally, I cannot relate to having mixed heritage but it still bothers me when people try to stereotype Native peoples as to looking a certain way. I have been assumed to Chinese or Korean simply due to my appearance but I brush it off because people may not have been around Natives before. Since I go to a predominantly Caucasian school, I have heard stories of cultural insensitivity toward Indigenous individuals and this caused me to step up and break the stereotypes that come along with being Native. It is inspiring to hear of your involvement with your local school district and exposing students to Native American history, because it is often minimal in school curriculum or not even present.

    I admire the fact you went back to school to pursue Native American studies and reconnect with your Native heritage. It’s always inspiring to hear the education journey of American Indian students, and yours delivered. As a student in a large school I feel it is my duty to provide a Native point of view, and your collaboration with the project funded by the Canadian government instills the idea that Indian Country is still a force to be reckoned with. Native people have the amazing characteristic to adapt and it is awesome to see that you are in Southern California giving your full effort in finding a job. ALSO, kudos for the John Lennon quote; he is definitely a role model of mine. Lastly, I wish you the best of luck in the future as a writer and may our Creator bless you in all your endeavors.

  • I most certainly can connect with you on the level of being a mother and going back to school later on in life. With four little ones running around and a husband teaching and coaching full time on the reservation, life is very stressful sometimes. I have high hopes of joining him there permanently though; slowing down my life and working as an effective teacher and role model in the community. Although my husband and children are enrolled tribal members, I am not. I worry that it will be a huge adjustment for me and that I will make a lot of mistakes, but my experience thus far has been fantastic. The Tohono O’odham people are loving and kindhearted. They have a world of respect for my husband and soon I hope they will feel the same about me. Here’s to my dream job! Good luck with yours!

  • I can certainly relate to this woman’s experience. Although I am only a senior in high school, I have faced many variations of discrimination as well. I am an African-American female, and I struggle with the fact that I am excluded from the African-American community in my school because I do not conform to the stereotype of a typical Black girl(i.e. loud, obnoxious, and ghetto.) However, I find that since I excel in school, I am praised by the faculty at my school(I go to a very diverse school, but most of the people with upper level positions are white) as being the “exception.” I am unsure how to feel about that since I know they mean it in a positive way, but the fact that my race is looked at in such a negative light is disappointing and saddening. My parents always pushed me to become either a lawyer or engineer, but seeing the racial disparity in all aspects of my life, and considering my love of science, I am pursuing a health science major, and I hope to go on to become an epidemiologist, and in addition to my work in finding the causes of certain disease, do field work and treat people in third-world countries, as well as close the gap in healthcare (between the poor-and predominantly Black and Hispanic- and the rich.)

  • It is very touching to read your story a lot of the time I think we feel alone as individuals when it comes to discrimination. I recently relocated and I am American indian I called the only indian clinic I could find in the area to see if I could get in as a patient I was turned down because I was not from thier tribe, I felt discriminated aginst. Where I come from it dosn’t matter what tribe your from as long as you belong to a tribe.
    I am 32 years old and I have two kids since they were born we have constantly faced a long line of people that have made sarcastic comments about the color of our skin, hair, and eyes. I have had numerous people including doctors tell me there is no way either my children or I am an indian. After a while you start to take offense to the comments but it only pushes me to accomplish more and to be better at anything I strive to do in life.

  • I am inspired by this story. I am African-American and I can relate to the alienation that you experienced from your own culture and white middle class America.

  • This is a very inspiring story. I’m part Colville Indian and part Spokane Indian, so I completely understand where you are coming from when you talk about being discriminated against or looked down on for not having full blood. Its amazing how upset our people are about being discriminated against, yet they discriminate against anyone who isn’t their own in the same way. It is incredibly inspirational to hear that you have gone on to do so many great things with your life, get a better education and that you are continuing to pursue doing what you love every day. So often people give up when its hard or when they face adversity because of who they are and where they come from, but you didn’t and that is amazing!

  • Your story inspired me because of the fact that you are
    Native American and you had a career in the dental field but realized that didn’t
    satisfy you so you went out to achieve your happiness and goals in life. I too
    am Native Indian, Lipan Apache from Texas, and Mexican. I have never been accepted
    by either race because I am American and I only speak English. I am not happy
    with my current employment and to better myself I am going to school to achieve
    the same goals.

    I can relate to you in regards of working in the Bookkeeping
    field I find when I go on Interviews I find that all the workers are white
    ladies so when I walk in they are all staring at me. They ladies will question
    my experience and family life and when I answer them, they seem quite surprise
    that I am pretty intelligent.

  • I can relate to the hardships associated with achieving success coming from a native, hispanic background. As
    a Latina woman, I have seen poverty in my family and understood the struggle of
    moving to America in search of a better life. My ethnicity, comprised of Cuban,
    Puerto Rican, and Taino Indian blood has shaped me into a woman who understands
    the importance of education and striving for her ambitions. In addition, because
    my parents never took AP classes or the SAT and did not apply to selective
    colleges, I have grown to be very independent and self-motivated in achieving
    my goals. Though I have faced many hardships in my education, I feel blessed and proud that my effort has paid off.

  • Like many of the other commenters here, I too was inspired and reassured by this story. What resonated with me most was the writer’s line, “This means that someone who is less than a “full blood Indian” is less than authentic as an Indian person. It’s a constant process of minimalization.” As the daughter of a bi-racial couple (my father is Filipino, my mother is caucasian), I have also felt a sense of isolation that being a child of two cultures brings. I felt alienated by my Filipino family for not being “Filipino enough,” but my Filipino looks and features estranged me from caucasian culture.

    Like the writer, I struggled to find ways to authenticate my Filipino voice and find a way to connect to my ancestors. As my B.F.A capstone project for my undergraduate degree, I attempted to write a novella about my experience. For days I started and stopped, stopped and started, and wound up with eight pages of meandering text and plotlines. I felt stilted—worse, I felt as though I was an imposter, telling someone else’s story. It didn’t help that my fellow students (all of them white), frequently teased me by inferring I wasn’t “official” enough to write as a Filipino. Though it burned to do it, I gave up. I chose a different topic for my final project; when the semester finished and everyone else celebrated their achievement, I felt a deep sense of dissatisfaction.

    It wasn’t until I was able to visit the Philippines with my lola (grandmother), three years after
    that failed attempt, that I began to feel as though I fit in. Walking the village streets with her, and hearing her stories strengthened my own voice, and made me take ownership of my roots.

    I think bi-racial writers have big obstacles to overcome in terms of being taken seriously as a writer who writes on behalf of a people, whether that topic be history or personal experience. Reading a success story like this, especially given the level of personal fulfillment this writer reports, gives me hope that we are moving towards knocking those obstacles down, and empowering a new generation that grows more diverse every day.

  • Your story really caught my attention and I am intrigued by it. I am African-American and I can relate to the hard times that you have faced. Life is not always made easy but you have certainly maintained a positive attitude during your downs. You made the best of everything and it seems that everything turned out good in the end for you.

  • Wonderful story, very inspirational. I’m of Latino descent, Puerto Rican specifically, but I don’t know enough about my culture or history to really have any pride in that side of myself. The aspect of your story I found most moving was your story about escaping from your life as a dental assistant and starting your journey towards a career that’s both fulfilling and one that you enjoy. I hope you can find a better, full-time position soon to put your education to use, but it’s still an inspiration to know that dead end jobs don’t last forever and it’s never too late to turn things around.

  • I found this story very touching. I think it speaks to many people including myself who wake up every day trying to find the perfect career that will not only provide for our families but will also feed our souls, and our intellectual curiousity. Some of us get a college degree that will allow us the ability to change people’s lives for the better but unfortunately find that those jobs are limited. I was faced with some of the same obstacles as the writer illustrates here. It really does take a lot of strength to not feel discouraged and press on. I think another important lesson here is the importance of using our education to decrease or eliminate discrimination in our country. As a person who was raised with the values, customs and traditions of two countries, it is difficult sometimes to come to terms with both without feeling like your identity is being compromised. I think the writer was able to successfully use the channel of writing to foster a deeper understanding of herself and her culture for the benefit of all of us.

  • Reading this interview, I was inspired by the tenacity of the beautiful, intelligent mix-heritage woman struggling to convey her story and fulfill her dreams within a country she was in raised and promised such seemingly frivolous ideas as personal and professional fulfillment. Or even, dare I say it, happiness.

    As a first-generation Brazilian immigrant and first generation college student in this country, my first impulse reading this story was to situate her story and my own within the context of race and the suffered consequences of being ascribed to the fancy scholarly wastebasket of “otherness”. To add legitimacy to my bold accusations, I turn directly to Critical Race Theory scholarship and beg an open mind of my audience as I proceed to explain the debauchery of self-negation, the never-ending demands of authenticity and
    the restraints on creativity those relegated to the status of “otherness” must endure.

    This woman’s story echoed my own with the need to legitimize my Brazilianness despite my having lived in this country for more than half my life. It made me think back to how I intellectually worked through James Johnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored man—a book that shook the foundational basis upon which I grew my image of personal potential for success and attainment of happiness within the United States as a Brazilian woman with contested continents upon which to call home. Specifically, it made me question where my loyalties lie: whether it is to my personal fulfillment, my creative development, and myself or to contribute to the growing Latino movement my Brazilian ethnicity gets slapped onto as a second thought despite my experience with racism? Must the burden of a race and ethnicity fall upon my shoulders or can I bypass this issue entirely and leave this on-and-off repugnantly ignorant country? If only it were so simple.

    For those unfamiliar, James Johnson crafts a story that contests the American Dream and race relations in the United States using a bi-racial narrator who is the byproduct of illegitimate sexual relations between a black woman and a rich southern white man. The boy himself grows up in the north, and the novel explains his coming into his racialized consciousness: the understanding of how white America saw him despite
    impeccably white pigmentation and plethora of talents and endless creativity. He too, ultimately faces the question of whether to risk destitution and the very real physical dangers of lynching in order to uplift his race, or whether to lay this subject to rest and chase after his own dreams by rejecting this externally-imposed burden wherever he felt most personally fulfilled irrespective of his race.

    My question, then, is the following: why must an individual forsake her creative potential and advocate for her equality prior to the acceptance and proper remuneration for the art she produces? How was the Civil Rights Movement of the ‘60s seen, really, if any work I produce must be seen through the lens of a working-class, female Brazilian immigrant raised in the United States rather than an individual whose art speaks beyond racialized intellectual borders, not to mention the endless list of other imposed minority statuses that make me unfailingly “other”? In case anyone was wondering, I am more than samba, a big butt, racial miscegenation or a girl with a propensity to enjoy the little things in life.

    To the amazing woman who found her native-americanism minimalized and got a degree to combat its belittlement, who has found peace in pursuing equality through freelance writing and love in the arms of an individual who respects her intellectual and existential necessity to continue fighting for and against the label she has inevitably been given, my sincerest congratulations and a very serious thank you for sharing. Although you do not know me, your (however much abridged) story fills me with a certain je ne sais quoi that I dare not in turn belittle through word choice. I believe our stories speak to each other through experience in a predominantly white system, not necessarily through language, but through a creative itch guided by observant eyes and a sensitive, open mind. Your story fills me with physical fervor.

    Lastly, I would like to add that on “the position of the advanced element of the colored race” Johnson
    ultimately maintains that “the blacks who carry the entire weight of the race question” are the ones who, “out of a chaos of ignorance and poverty…have evolved a social life of which they need not be ashamed”. For that, I believe sharing your story as a partially native-american woman scrambling to understand her position in society through literature and education, while openly refusing to compromise her lifestyle in southern California where she feels she belongs, you send an incredibly powerful message to what it means to be
    bi-racial and own one’s identity. Again, thank you for your tenacity and for sharing your creativity with the world. I wish you happiness and higher pay per freelance assignment!

  • I loved this post. I am biracial (black and white), born and raised in the midwest. Although my race and ethnicity are not so uncommon anymore, I, along with friends, find myself trying to fit into some disillusioned archetype of what it means to be black, while also having been raised in a predominantly white area of the city. I have been told that I ‘talk white’, ‘act white’, and I even listen to ‘white’ music. I initially struggled with this and attempted to define myself in opposition to my stereotype, embracing being the exception to the so-called rule. I later came to realize that every society has created social structures and, looking at such structures along with a critical historical view, I saw that my own struggles were not unique, rather they were in fact the rule. As the writer mentioned, we do not like to think of ourselves as racist or discriminatory, but because these things are so institutionalized, we are often blind to our own prejudice. As a graduate student in a TESL program, my future goals include traveling around the world and working in indigenous communities, teaching English as a way to empower the people to be knowledgeable as to what is happening around the world, within their community, and to be able to fight against oppression and prejudice. I would love to work freelance for communities whenever I can. This story is truly an inspiration.

  • This post was very interesting and informative of the multi-cultural point of view. I am also a mixed, half-Chinese and the other half is English, Welsh and Native American. I connected with this story due to her experiences regarding race and the demands of being “pure-blood.” It’s surprising to be from a ethnically mixed area (Bay Area in California) and yet people are still concerned about if you’re “Asian enough.”

    This story applies to more then just writers, it applies to just about any multi-cultural individual in the United States. I love how she has changed her mind about her career so many times and she’s embraced her Native American culture through all her struggles. I’m never going to be completely Chinese or “white” or Native American, I’m just simply me. This post reminds me that I can only be myself and you can’t let anyone else judge me for that.

    I hope that other readers, bi-racial or not, will be able to understand how stereotypes of cultures can be ever hurtful and you shouldn’t assume anything. The United States has these stereotypes about every types of race and culture. I think it’s time to address these stereotypes and educating others on how to have these opinions but not to express them in a hurtful way. I hope this woman’s story continues to be shared and she accomplishes her goals in becoming an educator.

  • I am not bi-racial, and I do have some proven Native American blood, but it was only my great, great Grandmother. My reason for reading this life story and my reason for liking it was not because I could relate to the racial problems she has faced, but because I can relate to her need to express herself and her yearning to find work that best satisfies that need.

    Much like her, creativity is something that I too “thrive” on. I am only a college freshman, but with everyone around me haggling me about choosing a major and deciding a career choice before “it is too late”, has brought me to a troubling dilemma. One that is related closely to her problem and the dilemma that many face today– the dilemma of whether or not to go on and do something that earns the big buck, but is “soul-killing” and mentally draining in process, or whether or not to follow a passion that fills the deeper corners of one’s being with a sense of purpose (instead of just filling the deep corners of one’s pocket).

    Hearing how well she is doing, and how happy she still is, despite encountering a few financial problems and a lack of incoming of sufficient funds, really moved me to pursue a major that would satisfy my creative self.

  • My grandmother is Cherokee and Creo and grandfather african american. My grandmother recently passed away and no one knows about out Indian side. I am currently trying to register into the Cherokee tribe, but there are some loops holes I’m afraid I can’t conquer.

    You have to show proof that you are related to someone that is already enrolled into the tribe. The worst feeling is knowing that you are something that you can not prove. This article is very inspiring.

  • I enjoyed this post, mainly because I relate to her being a native american, Choctaw to be exact. But knowing she pushed aside all the hate from people to do a career her ancestors have been doing, inspires me. I used to be playfully teased about having Indian heritage, them either being racist remarks or people trying to be funny. But she can push aside all the criticism and work for herself on her own time. I also loved at how the end she stated she wanted to teach, because I am after my teaching degree in English right now. I’m glad I read this, she is one of the few people who make me proud of my heritage.

  • As a Caucasian male, I cannot claim to truly understand the writer’s struggles or the events she went through. However, I hope that doesn’t make me appear cold and uncaring as her story relieved and inspired me much more than anything I’ve read in a very long time.

    I’d also like to add that I wish to personally and sincerely empathize with the Native American community and wish to so many degrees that I could personally make amends for all the European Settler’s did and fix the situation so many now face.

    This article has inspired me and I am nothing short of awed by the author.

  • This topic is interesting to me. I am mixed with many races and being not as “pure” of a race makes someone feel lesser than they really are. This lady is my hero to continue her studies and find a place in her life. A freelancer is a cool job because of the flexibility and opportunities she can do. I want to be a freelancer and soon earn a full-time job as a graphic designer.

  • I found this article very interesting. I believe in some ways, the more our cultures strives to diversify, the more we leave some people behind. Theoretically it would seem the best of all worlds when people of mixed races create a new generation. These people have chosen to overlook differences and focus on characteristics that draw them to a person, regardless of their race.

    Unfortunately in our flawed society, people of multi-racial ancestry seem to face more obstacles. This author characterized it as being “less than authentic.” What a strange thing we have done – to make a person feel less because they don’t fit into the mold that we place. In many ways, I think our stereotypes are just evolving rather than vanishing.

  • This story is both interesting and inspirational. Personally, I can relate to this writer in many aspects. Unfortunately, I do not live in an area that mostly consists upper-middle class whites but I did attend an all girls private catholic school in high school that mostly consisted of upper class whites so the feeling of being discriminated was mutual. Although I did not have the money to attend the school, I was fortunate to have a sponsor to help me out with the tuition. This did not lesson the struggles of being categorized and scrutinized based of my race.

  • I really enjoyed reading this interview. I too am Native American and it is difficult when your mixed. My father is Native and my mother is white. This made it hard to fit in at school because I wasn’t white enough for some and the Hispanic girls that looked like me still weren’t my ethnicity. Living off of the reservation made it hard to connect culturally to my roots as a child. Only recently have I been able to rekindle that and make it grow. I’ve been able to work on my pottery and expand myself in the arts of my people.

    I’m in college and working very hard on my education. I too desire my PhD and hope that that doesn’t change. Yet I’m free spirited and speak my mind freely, sometimes this gets me into trouble but without this feeling of freedom I feel trapped in this world. It makes so proud of myself to be in school, doing what I love and becoming something my people too will be proud of.

    This article touched me personally because I feel I can relate so well to it. Trying to be a Native in a white man’s world is challenging enough but to do it away from the reservation and your people makes it that much harder. One time, at my first week of the job I’m currently at, I was in the break room having lunch when a girl asked me “What I was?” I looked up to notice that all the African-Americans were sitting together at a table, the Hispanic at another, the whites at another and then me all by myself. I couldn’t help but laugh. Yet I’m very proud of my distinction and heritage from others. I feel it’s well rounded me as a person and helped me to get along with others no matter what we look like or where we come from.

  • I enjoyed reading the article above and learned a few things that I never realized or had put together such as the blood amounts for races, she is totally right and how stupid is that? Though I do have Cherokee-Choctaw blood in my veins, I also have Irish, Scottish, French and a German background name so call me Heinz 57, free-spirited and that never fit in anywhere, I can relate. I mostly relate to the fact that I am also an older woman that is continuing my own education that has let me grow even more with knowledge, faith, strength, and confidence realizing that yes, I can do this and doing it well! My hat is off to the young lady above and I do hope and know that she will succeed, thank you for sharing an important part of your life.

  • Being an Arab-Egyptian, born and raised in America I was discriminated against throughout middle and high school, even occurs now being in my third year in college. Growing up I was isolated and confused. I was raised with two strict Arab parents, we spoke the language and kept up with traditions. I never made friends until 11th grade because I always dressed, and spoke differently then the other “American” students. I never felt like I fit in until I visited Israel. It was like I found other people who understood me, people that never judged me because they look and speak the same as I do! But even my family had names for my sisters and I for having been born in the states, speaking Arabic with an American accent.

    I did not want to come home becuase I felt a strong connection being with other arabs. I understood who I was and where I came from. When I came back to the states I fell back to being ashamed of who I was the kids through racial slurs at me and tortured me to the point wher eI questioned my existance and why my parents had me. I struggled being an Arab-American female.

    I fought back and now I am going to school for my bachelors degree in Social Work because I want to help those find their strength and use their voice to fight back, I want to empower those who struggled like I had.

    I really enjoyed this article. I can relate to the stuggles.

  • I loved what you had to say.
    By saying so much with so few words the article really pinpoints the truth without wasting time beating around the bush. People are often times close minded with no consideration of the feelings of others.
    Being Native American myself, the one question I am asked, nearly on a daily basis, is “what are you?” People do not take well to my response of, “A human being,” claiming it’s rude and uncalled for. However I’ve found it a lot easier to answer those who ask me what my ethnic background is, or where my family is from. I don’t look Native American, or white, or mixed, or anything else for that matter. Apparently my appearance has always been something that slightly bothers other people, due to this I’ve always been a little self-conscious.
    It’s nice to see I’m not the only one whose had these experiences, and is willing to speak for themselves. It’s very empowering.

  • This story really impressed me. The sacrifices you made to follow your dreams are amazing. I have a small amount of Native American in my family tree. My great-grandmother was half Choctaw. I have had people call me a liar when I mention it because they think that I look too white. I think your attitude about the way that you have been treated is inspiring.

  • I enjoyed how she conveyed her struggle of being a woman and a minority. I relate to her struggles as a woman and a minority because I am also in the same boat. She was very inspirational shedding light on her issues in the professional world and how she is always constantly working to overcome them. She is a wonderful example of a strong woman that is chasing her dreams and raising her family.

  • I enjoyed reading this post. Im black and I live in central California. I grew up around white people, I like skateboarding and I sound white when I talk. I have family in Los Angeles and they think I’m white washed. I know I’m black and I don’t act the way I act on purpose, it’s just the way I am. Iv’e still been called nigger more times than I can count. So it’s not like the way I am benefits me on either sides. If anything, I have felt alienated and alone for the entirety of my 19 years of existence. As Earl sweatshirt would say, “too white for the black kids, and too black for the white” My best friend is black at least, he is one of the only black people that I call my friend. But, even he is selective in who he will let see me hanging out with him. Many times I have contemplated why I am still friends with him.

    Reasons why I am still his friend are:
    a) He was the first friend I ever had
    b) Our families have always known each other
    c) His little brother and sister are awesome
    d) He is the only other black person I hang out with outside my family, and if I didn’t have him I would look like a racist person to my own race. No bueno

    Now, have white friends too. I don’t really care if someone is racist, it’s their loss and I don’t have to hang out with them. My mother is nice to all my white friends and works with white people. But if Helter Skelter ever arrived she would be first in line to sign up for the black people army. Yeah, she’s one of those old school black ladies that has experienced true discrimination, and her advice to me about white people has always been to never trust them. Pretty messed up, but then there’s my dad. He is albino black and partial Native American. That means, my dad is the flipped version of me. White on the outside, black on the inside. He doesn’t care about race, he’s neutral about everything. I figure he just kept his mouth shut his whole life and passed for white. LUCKY GUY. When you mix a silent double agent like my pops with a could-be Black Panther advocate like my mom, you get me; a skeptical ass mutt. But I’m fine with that.

    As far as working a dull job goes, I have had my fair share of dull jobs. My first job was at Marshalls in my hometown, Lompoc, California. I racked clothes and hated my life until I left for college. I now attend California College of the arts where I study graphic design and glass-blowing. I don’t know what I want to do with my life, but I know that if I am in a studio or office on a computer for more than 6 hours a day, I’m hatin life once again. So, I figure a freelance job is the way for me so I can do what I like to do, I see myself trying to balance out free time and work for the rest of my life. In that sense, I feel that I also relate to the writer.

    Oh yeah, during the summer I was a teacher’s assistant for a summer program that taught 8th grade kids! I look like I’m 15, no joke. So as you can imagine I got little to no respect from these kids who thought I was nothing but a few years older than they were! I made it out alive, only to work during the school year as an ETS. ETS stands for educational technology service, which means that my job was to assist teachers and students with problems they had with technology on campus, mainly computers. As I stated before, I cannot sit in front of a screen daily and remain a happy person. But that was a large portion of my job. Luckily, there was lots of wiping windows and picking up trash for me to do also. The only reason why I complain about this job is that I signed up for a graphic design job. Graphic design is my specialty. I can make posters like nothing. All my white friends at the school, who came from the same high school as me, and are studying graphic design just as I am, got graphic design jobs for the school. I try not to jump the gun when pulling the race card, but I think there is a huge possibility that I was discriminated against.

    The writer inspires me to percevere through any hardships I encounter through life, and to always stay true to myself no matter what I have to sacrifice.

    • It is always amazing to see one step out and take a leap to improve all of humanity. The world continues to have constant struggles that can often overwhelm us. But what are we to do about it? This author is truly an inspiration and a perfect role model for Native communities and for all of those who have faced adversity by stepping out and working on the problem!

  • I was gravitated and drawn to this passionate story. I am multi-racial and understand the authors emotions on society’s discrimination against anyone who is not fully Caucasian. My family has struggled with being called out by many others about our heritage but, try to not let that stop any goals we may want to achieve. While reading the story I felt a connection with the writer and felt all the emotions she’s had her whole life growing up in one story. She truly is inspiring and makes me believe that anything I want to accomplish is possible because I am still a human regardless of my race.

  • This story is great in many ways. So often do we confuse our social norms with what society embeds in us through extraneous day to day activities. I can reassure you that this is one of many success stories that are both heart warming and motivational to our people. Its nice to know that our people are getting our there and understanding the importances of education and how crucial it can be for us from generations to come. But what dilemmas we face as people is failing to recognize each other as individuals through the subjective lenses people may perceive to one another, especially Native Americans.

    This particular quote however i found quite interesting. The author states “This means that someone who is less than a “full blood Indian” is less than authentic as an Indian person. It’s a constant process of minimization” From being half Native American and Half Hispanic, i have had my encounters with people from all over Indian country just because of the way i look. I travel and dance at powwows all across the country and even in Canada. But i have not stopped just because of what people think. I let my dancing to my talking and tend elsewhere with people that matter to me. But that only occurred to me when i was growing up and occasionally occurs when my friends like to heckle me which i had learned to laugh at now.

    Lastly, the discriminations that are done by our people are detrimental and have no positive gain. We are only hindering ourselves and that jeopardizes our chances of growing together as people in fear of what the public opinion thinks. I am fortunate that i am Native American and embrace it with fully authority by expressing to my campus, organizations, and my family. I will continue to implement this necessary effort in order to increase the social capital of Native American Understanding and to provide extensive and thoughtful recognition for those who are currently in the same situation as i am. Thank you for provided us with this wonderful story.

  • I cannot express the amount of connection I felt with this story. As a Mexican, I feel a great sense of connection with the Northern Native American community. Just like Native Americans, the majority of Mexicans have indigenous blood, yet this is often undermined by the American community. I have a great love for the Native peoples of Latin America, and even though there is no documentation (There is no such thing in Mexico, that indicates people’s blood quantum) to indicate that I am also Native, I know for a fact that the blood runs in my veins. I was also able to relate with the author as a person. She mentions that she is “complex; free-spirited” and like her, I feel that my personality is the same way. Like the author I was very restless, and still are, which has made me want to fill my mind with wisdom. Because of this, I have learned the history of Mexican-Americans, something which forever changed my life. Having learned about the injustices done to the Mexican American, the Native American, Asian American, African American and other “minority” communities over time, helped me in making a decision about the career path I want to pursue. Like the author who mentions her job moves her heart as a writer, I want my job to move my heart as a civil lawyer who is available to the community. Although the English language has always been somewhat of a challenge to me, because it is not my first language, I want to become a better writer and like the author have a side career writing about everything I have learned.

    Although the author herself is multi-racial, her story perfectly depicts the struggles of Native Americans. The decisions done by Euro-Americans, by creating blood quantums, have caused separation between the Native community. The author mentions that someone who is less than a “full-blooded Indian” is also less than authentic as an Indian person. Using blood quantum to determine her Nativeness would undermine her life work of being a writer who represents the Native American community.

  • When I read this story I realized that this is how I have
    felt most of my life. These were the feelings I have had in my life but
    expressed in the words of another. She
    captured my feelings perfectly. I can relate to how she felt when she said that
    she didn’t feel like she didn’t really fit in with the Indian community or with
    the “white” people. In my life I’ve
    dealt with this problem also known as culture clash. I may not be bi-racial but
    I am a Mexican who has lived in the United States her entire life, and still I
    sometimes feel like I don’t fit in the place I call home.

    I have always wanted to cling to my cultural background but
    at the same time I want to fit in with the people in the country. I have had problems balancing both of my
    cultures: the Mexican culture and the American culture. When I visit my family
    in Mexico I sometimes don’t feel like I fit in because they think I’m too
    American, and I have been called “white-washed” from people here. It doesn’t
    offend me but it makes me feel like less of a Mexican; a failure. I feel like I
    have disappointed my heritage and my family. However, I want to fit in the
    United States.

    I have seen how Hispanics have been treated, what has been
    said about them, there’s no escaping this ugly truth. I have been a victim of
    discrimination and I have been stereotyped. Once I went to go run errands with
    my mom and my younger sister. We stopped at this place to get my other little
    sister’s clarinet fixed the man who worked there was much older and he was a
    bit prejudiced. He wanted to make small talk and one of the comments he made to
    me and my sister was “You girls are probably not thinking of going to college.”
    I told him I was but he didn’t hear me. I was confused but I understood that he
    saw that we were Mexican and thought that because of this he didn’t think we
    wanted to go to college. That made my mom mad but she just ignored him, because
    with people like that that’s all we can do is ignore them. In Middle School I remember having to be a
    translator for a new girl in school who came from Mexico. When we were standing
    in the lunch line, some boys behind us were saying stuff to the girl saying, “Why
    don’t you go back to where you came from,” and “Speak English this is America.”
    This made me both sad and mad. This is America the land of the free, and the
    Melting Pot Nation. Why can’t we just accept one another as human beings and
    respect each other’s cultures? Why must we point out each other’s
    differences? Everyone is different but
    that doesn’t mean we should treat them differently.

    I want to show others just like this lady did that just because
    someone else is of a different cultural background or race doesn’t mean they
    can’t succeed in the United States. I want
    to prove that I can have the same opportunities as others if I work hard and if
    I’m given the chance.

    Remember that everyone is above all a human being. If we just view people as a human instead of
    treating them according to their appearance, than I believe this world would be
    a better place.

  • As both a writer and minority woman, I identify. The inspirational peak of this interview has to do with the decision to abandon a job for the money and take a new route for the heart. To deny money for truth is a gutsy thing to do, and I completely
    resonate with this woman having left a well-paying job to become a
    journalist. Her desire to make an impact in her readers’ world and inform them – us – of what we may have never understood stands aligned to my desire to be a journalist. More specifically, when she says this: “It’s really gratifying to me when somebody I know reads my work and says ‘I didn’t know that and I really learned something.’ I’ve always had an
    internal need to make a difference in the world in some way.”

    As writers, our intrinsic natures are to have our work read and give understanding to those who took the time to read through the story. What we compile as far as research, interviews and experience truly matters to the inner workings of the story. There is so much that goes into an article, blog post or excerpt! It feels as though this woman fueled her passion through cultural experiences, as I am fueled by the incessant need to stir the pot for readers to take a moment and read a story I spent blood, sweat and tears on. It is in these moments when we hit the apple key and “S” after 30 plus edits that we see a glimpse of our personality, history and emotion. She cares, so she works doing what she loves. I care for the world to be an informed place so I will give my 110 percent to make that happen.

  • In our generation, it is human nature to judge and bring up stereotypes based on their appearance. That could be race, gender, or how they spoke. Her will to endure all the obstacles she faced inspired me . I am Asian, and I am frequently receive many comments against my culture. Due to this, I have not been close with my culture. It made me forget my own culture. After reading this, I find no reason to be ashamed of my own race.

  • Like the rest of the commenters, many can relate to the author in many different levels. As for
    me I am half African American half Turkish. A previous commenter (Gabrielle S), used her own
    family as an example of what the author said: “This means that someone who is less than a
    “full blood Indian” is less than authentic as an Indian person.”

    As for me growing up in a bi-racial household in a predominantly Caucasian area, I
    often found myself confused about my own individuality. Constantly being called
    “white boy” due to how articulate I was and my lighter than normal complexion,
    I was a common target for classmates. Countless nights I would contemplate my background and who I was. All the opinions from outside parties shadowed my own mind. I began to think I was
    something I was not.

    Throughout high school I gradually found myself and had a major epiphany. Overcoming
    stereotypes embedded in society from previous decades is mentally tough. Once
    you truly find yourself and know your background. Outside influences and
    opinions are nothing. This author experienced something many people go through
    daily. It is amazing that I stumbled upon this story I can relate to so well. Just exhilarating.

  • I truly connected with the author, especially when she mentioned the stigma attached to people with mixed-blood ethnic groups. As a mixed blood member of the Seminole tribe, I was always questioned as to how I could be part of a tribe if I do not live in a teepee on a reservation, smoke pipes, so on and so forth. I could not tell if I was more offended that they did not know that Native Americans live in many other dwellings besides teepees, or that they just could not accept that people do not have to “look the part,” in order to identify with their heritage.

    This is part of the reason as to why I went from teaching at neighborhood schools, to teaching at international schools. Most teachers, students and parents embrace this type of diversity and genuinely inquire about who you are and where you came from. Diversity is celebrated and appreciated.

    Most recently, I discovered “The Hapa Project,” by artist, Kip Fulbeck. The project is a multiracial identity project where people identify their ethnicity or identity in their own words. The project promotes awareness of the many multiracial and multiethnic individuals in the world. It was inspiring to watch my students take part in this project. I feel as though it not only helped to uncover who they were as children, but also to show each other who they are as people. I go back and look at the many individuals who took part in this project for inspiration.

    Thank you to the author for explaining the trials and tribulations she and many other people endure for the sake of being who they are.

  • I was moved by this story and feel as though I can really relate to the writer. I grew up as an Iranian-American in Virginia and Maryland, and consider myself muti-ethnic as well. I felt the same sense of discrimination from others, mostly out of misunderstanding or an inability for others to relate, especially after the events of 9/11.

    I too am a writer who always dreamed of making a career out of this passion, I need creativity in my day-to-day activity in the same way the writer states. Having worked for the past three years in information technology and consulting, I have felt the way in which a job can strip you of your creativity and imaginative thinking. And so I have chosen to make a career out of teaching students, and am currently studying at the Teachers College of Columbia University to obtain an MA in Secondary English Education. I agree that it is intensely difficult to find a fair-paying job in both writing and teaching, especially with the climate of the job market today, and for this reason I empathized with the writer.

    I was affected deeply when reading, “An elder/teacher of mine once taught me that the goal of life was to leave a legacy. I suppose that’s what I am striving to do,” as it struck a chord with me. From working in an industry where I didn’t feel as though I was making any positive change in the world, I’ve learned just how important it is to me to do so. I now act as a mentor to a college freshman who comes from a low-income community and has struggled her whole life to receive a quality education and find her path to success. I can’t wait to help dozens of students in this same vain once I become a licensed teacher.

    I wish the writer the best of luck in her future endeavors, and thank her for such an inspiring piece!

  • Reading this interview really made me think about my current situation. When she quoted John Lennon “Life is what happens when you are busy making plans,” I couldn’t help but feel a connection to what she was saying. I came from a single parent immigrant household and growing up there was always so much pressure put on me to succeed. When I finally came to college and decided to major in Public Relations because I was absolutely horrified of the prospect of graduating and not finding my perfect career and not making my mother and siblings proud. I would spend hours sitting on my computer as a kid planning my future and now that I was in college I wan’t sure where to start.

    Lists and schedules have always been my comfort but I learned that the harder I tried to make things bend to my plans, the harder it became for me to adjust. Like her I had to learn to bend with the tides of life and spend time actually enjoying my college experience instead of wasting it all doing nothing but wait for tomorrow. Once I stopped trying to micromanage my life and actually started trying to enjoy my experience, I noticed how many opportunities were around me that before I have overlooked due to my constant tunnel vision. It is truly inspirational to hear someone who was like me but managed to find a career that both made them feel happy and competent. I get that sometimes money may be an issue but I have learned that sometimes to get to where you want to go, you have to ride out the rough times and endure. You can’t control everything and trying to can only make a person miserable and stressed.

  • I learned from my parents that being stuck in a job that brings you zero satisfaction can be physically and emotionally draining. If there is a path that leads to a fulfilling career, why not take it? It seems that my parents are definitely not alone in their career struggles, but it is truly inspiring when the lucky few are able to break out of that rut and start a new life with a new profession that brings them satisfaction and joy.

    The writer of this story made a point to emphasize that making a difference in the world and helping people learn new pieces of information is really important. Unfortunately though, money is a huge necessity in our society and it is hard to find a satisfying job that can fulfill both of these needs. Most people are therefore forced into making the money that is needed to live life instead of doing something that can possibly help our culture and shape the future.

    Many people have discouraged me from getting my degree in anthropology. From Yahoo! articles saying it is one of the worst majors to obtain, to my aunts and uncles laughing at my lack of future career options, I have not been overly motivated to continue in the direction I’m headed in. But thanks to the brave few that have made such decisions to follow their passion and not succumb to the money-grubbing way of the world have showed me that being happy and possibly poor is better than being miserable and rich.

  • I was very inspired by the above story. It gives me hope and reassurance, often times I feel that I can’t answer the question, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” I too have had several different careers and a few have not matched my educational background. I’m currently enrolled into a Graduate program and hope with this degree that I can truly find myself. I also relate to the writer’s story in a few aspects, I’m a single mother, mixed background (native american and caucasian), and I sometimes feel that I’m doing soul-killing work. Thank you for the inspiration.

  • I am very much moved by the story. I am an America Born Chinese, grown up in New England, I often feel disconnected at school and isolated…I was straggling to find my identity and voice

  • I always love hearing the perspective from people who chose between their passion and the “safe” job. I deal with internal struggle since my education and my career is in theater arts. I am currently a Business Manager for a performing arts school and constantly am asked about the wiseness of choosing a job in the arts versus “go to law school” – dad. I relate to this author other ways: I am half Puerto Rican and half Cuban and I was raised in a suburban town with mostly middle class white peers. I was nodding my head to the part where the author describes having to “gently educate” people in a way that won’t make them feel defensive, but also explains why something they said is problematic to say to a minority. It’s not only my white friends who I would feel this way about; I relate to the author saying you feel as if you don’t fully belong in either world. My Hispanic friends would often express my differences compared to them because I was “raised white”, meaning I went to a different type of school than them, wasn’t raised bilingual (had to learn Spanish on my own), and didn’t have the same interests as them.

    Although the author acknowledges that freelance writing doesn’t make as much money as she would like, she seems to be very happy and confident. With her Masters in a field that she feels passionately about, she has vast knowledge on something that feeds her soul. When you choose your passion, I believe you can reach your goals. You just have to realistic about them, be extremely knowledgeable about your field/economy, etc and work harder than others. But, it can happen.

  • I enjoyed reading this story because I do not feel so alone in my journey. As a mixed woman of Piscataway Conoy,
    Rappahannock, Iroquois, African American and German descent, I am looked at as
    the spokesperson for the “Black” community. At my school, people look at me and see a “Black ” person. They do not see the a woman of a diverse family. I am looked at as a inferior individual because I am a minority. Often times when I speak, people are surprised that I have clear diction, speak “proper” English and remain poised at all times. Over the past few years, I have been reconnecting with my American Indian side because I desire to know more. My mother has been tracing my family’s origin. Learning about my family origin has sparked some sense of pride and helped improve my confidence. Knowing who I am and where my family has been helps me to clearing understand my present and my future.
    As a woman studying politics, desiring to become an attorney then a politics, I know my career will not be easy. As a minority woman there is an intersectionality I experience between the who characteristics. I am not just a woman or not just mixed I am both. Often I am treated as such, looked down upon for coming from a rough neighborhood although I had a humble and modest upbringing.The intersectionality between my race and gender makes me a target for marginalization from whites men, white women and even black men. Minority women are viewed as at the bottom of the food chain. Our equality is contingent upon our race and gender more than any other group. The intersectionality of gender and race influence our careers, private lives, and treatment we received from others. To many being a minority women means I deserve less than satisfactory and equal treatment. I am not judged for being human, my abilities or my ethics. I am judges for characteristics I cannot control. With that being said, I am not ashamed of myself or my diversity. I am proud to be me, proud to overcome prejudice, proud to stand strong and proud to have made it this far.

  • Although I am ethnically Lebanese, I can relate to your story in that I struggle with identifying as a Lebanese-American. Juggling two cultures under one identity has been very difficult for me throughout my life. When visiting in Lebanon, my foreign accent and mixed up syllables in my speech highlighted my Americanness. In America, I have my own culture, language, and food, having been brought up by immigrant, Lebanese parents.

    I have felt as though I am navigating between two identities, not fully welcome or comfortable in each. I have worked to connect to my parents and my heritage through my studies. However, joining my university’s Lebanese student club has allowed me to make friends with people just like me, and has helped me to better understand myself and my place within both cultures. Reading your story shows me that we should not feel alienated, but should embrace our diversity and celebrate our connections to various cultures.

  • This story is an inspiring example of how working hard can pay off for your career, and how doing something you live can pay off for your happiness.

    Although I’m still in college, I also had a pivotal moment in my life when I decided to follow what I love instead of just what makes money. I love art- expressing myself creatively has been an important part of who I am since I was a kid. But I also am passionate about caring for the environment, so when I entered college I was torn. I went into Environmental Science and Fine Arts, hoping I could double major or integrate them somehow. I was disappointed when I learned that there was no way to pursue both fields unless I wanted to stay longer and graduate with two degrees. I was also disheartened by my difficult math and science classes, which I enjoyed but took away a lot of time from my art.

    Eventually I was worried my passions weren’t going to ever work together, and I considered giving up on my art degree. This was my important moment- thankfully, I decided to focus on art and look for other ways of integrating with environmental studies. My commitment payed off when I discovered two programs at my school that changed my life: Art & Ecology, a concentration in the fine arts program that allowed me to make art that addressed social, political, and environmental issues, and Sustainability Studies, a minor that allowed me to study science and social studies relevant to sustainability alongside my art degree. I am so glad that I’m still following my dreams, because I’m happy, and I’ve had a lot of amazing opportunities because of it.

    When I read this story, I was reminded of my own story, and it’s really good to know that there are others I can relate to- it’s inspiring and makes me feel even better about my decisions.

    Interestingly, I can also relate to the author’s experience with discrimination and feelings of isolation. I am biracial-I have Native American and European American heritage. Although I am a “registered indian,” I grew up away from my tribe’s reservation, and although my parents and grandma taught me all about my heritage, it’s been hard sometimes to feel a connection to my own people. This has been harder for me because while I have a medium-brown complexion, my people are from the North, and we’re much fairer than Native Americans of the southwest, which is where I grew up. Like the author, as a young adult I was teased and told I wasn’t “native enough” because I didn’t grow up on the rez or have dark skin. This has been difficult at times, but reading this story inspires me to be proud of my heritage, and to help others do the same.

    • I am first generation from Mexico. I am an educator, and I am inspired by your perseverance! I work with minority children and families, and I strive to instill in all of my students that they should seek out opportunities and persevere to gain economic opportunities and social justice.

  • I find it inspiring that the writer saw what her job as a dental assistant was doing to her and decided to forge a different path. Anyone who has worked a stressful job knows that, at the end of the day, the effort doesn’t feel worth the pay. One of the reasons that I felt motivated to go to college was because I couldn’t handle being treated rudely by retail customers who assumed that you’re an idiot simply because you’re working at a grocery store to save up for school. It’s reassuring to see that even though the income for freelance writing isn’t steady, the freedom that the writer experiences is better than working a job they hate.

    This story is also inspiring because the author is overcoming racism and oppression to achieve her goals. Despite not earning much money at the moment, she is persevering to try and build a better future for herself and other freelance writers. I enjoyed reading this article because it exposed me to several ideas that I had never thought about. Is it better to do something you enjoy or something that earns you a lot of money? I think the better choice is to do what fulfills your life, rather than what fills your bank account.

  • Reading this story brought up many relatable experiences I have confronted at different points in my life. The first is being perceived as a stereotype and to be greeted with surprise because you do not fit the description of that particular stereotype. I am German, African American, and Puerto Rican and I grew up on the island of St. Croix. I moved to the states in 2006, but continue to return for a visit to see my family once a year. My look is unique so many times I get asked, “what are you?” Usually I answer with “human,” but if someone asks me specifically what my ethnicity is I will answer. Usually people are surprised and will make a comment about why they didn’t think I was this race or that race, which the reason is usually is a stereotype. When I mention where I grew up, they tell me how good my English is and how well I speak. (St. Croix is a U.S. territory). They are also surprised that I grew up in a house and a school that weren’t thatched huts. As mentioned in the interview, the best response to ignorant comments is education.

    Another similar scenario I have experienced, and I’m sure many others have as well, is leaving a job that I didn’t like. I was in advertising sales for many years and sales wasn’t for me. I hated cold calling and selling products that I didn’t believe in to make a living. I decided that I wanted to go back to school and to get a job doing something I loved. For my journey I have chosen Dental Hygiene, which ironically is the same field that the writer left in order to pursue her passion of writing. Dental Hygiene is something I am passionate about and am excited to pursue something I am excited about.

    It is brave in this economy, where there are 3 people for every 1 open job, to quit a comfortable job and be willing to put yourself at temporary discomfort to pursue something you love.

  • I can complete relate to this story. I am bi-racial with a Native father and a Native/Caucasian mother. I am lighter skinned and my features are a bit more on the Irish side. That didn’t stop me from being teased for being Native when I was growing up. I am proud of my culture and who I am. I took that pride with me to college where I was a member of a multicultural sorority. I was shocked and dismayed when my ethnic identity was denied by people who I called sisters. They assumed that since I was not raised on a reservation and I have lighter skin that I must be white. They didn’t understand the colonization that has forced us to assimilate with the majority or die out. Saying that to a Native woman, trying to decide her ethnic identity for her is a form of modern colonialism. Not to mention that our skin comes in a rainbow of colors…..so to speak. Having light skin does not mean you are not Native. Its incredibly sad that these women thought this way but its a sad side effect of how our education system works. We’re not taught about Native people outside of a special paragraph and occasionally our our short chapter. We’re spoken of as a long gone and now forgotten people. We, as a people, can change that. I plan to change that through both education and by caring for my people as a healthcare provider. That way I can others reach their full potential.

  • This story really caught my attention because I too am Native American. Although I am only a quarter-blood, I look more white than anything. I sympathize with you about being in the middle, and not really fitting in with either side. I went to an all Native American school in elementary for several years, and they were great until the last 3 years that I went. I was bullied, physically and emotionally and I thought that I would never get out.
    Fortunately, I made a decision which probably saved my life, and I switched to a public school where I learned a great deal more. I actually thought about my life in long terms and wanted to go to college. I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a major until my senior year, but for me just making it to my high school graduation was a great feeling, because I had succeeded.
    I am inspired by your will to make something more for yourself and to use your Native American heritage to help others. Thank you.

  • As a black woman, I definitely understand your struggle in searching for jobs in predominantly white areas. I’ll have interviews where I’ve been told that every answer given is exactly what they’re looking for, leading me to think I’m a shoo-in for the job, but then when I don’t get it, there’s always that nagging thought, “Is it because I’m black?” It’s hard to not think this when so many places have little to no diversity. I grew up in a predominantly white suburb, so I often heard “oh you’re not even black” because I didn’t fit the perceived stereotypes. This left me with a terrible internal struggle; if I ‘acted white,’ why wasn’t I always accepted in spaces with white people, and vice versa, since I am black, why didn’t I fit in to most spaces with black people. While I am not bi-racial, I can empathize with the struggle to find a part of you to identify with.

  • Reading this story I find that I share a similar life experience. I was born in Mexico but raised in the United
    States since I was 10 years old. I consider myself to be Mexican however some say, including some members from my family (they are all Mexican born and raised) that I am not really Mexican because I have been living in the United States for many years. This is a contradiction because here in the U.S. I am not considered a real American. Therefore, I have concluded that I am neither Mexican or American I am a mixture of both cultures or like you can call it, a Chicana. Like the person from this story I still have not figured out a good response or figured a way to respond to some of the discrimination I get because of this. I consider myself “neither from here, nor from there” in reference to the US and Mexico. As a mixture
    of cultures from both countries I feel that being Chicana represents the struggle of being accepted into the Anglo-dominated society of the United States, while maintaining the cultural sense developed as a Latino-cultured, US-born Mexican child. I have learned to overcome this struggle of maintaining my cultural sense by joining groups of young men and women who have the same experience as I do and that are not ashamed to voice out their culture and take pride in it.

    I also relate a lot to her answer when it comes to finding the perfect career. Going through several different jobs can be a process of growing and this is what happened to me a few years ago when I decided to make a career shift, from the business field to the field of healthcare. This process definitely made me grow and change as a person helping me to discover the career path I want to undertake for now that perfectly matches my personal and professional core values.

  • From reading this article, I was reminded of the various stigmas I’ve had throughout my academic career in relation to my ethnicity and career path. One major struggle was my identity as a mixed-race hispanic student amongst my peers. Another was the worry of finding a career that not only is a good investment of my education, but one that is financially stable and able to make a stable living with. The arts and humanities are generally looked down upon by more capitalistic fields because they don’t generate the same level of income. A freelance career could also be considered as so along such professions.

    My mother’s side of the family is from Ponce, Puerto Rico, whilst my father’s side is from Mexico. My parents generally grew up speaking minimal Spanish, so they chose not to teach my brothers and I. Growing up as a kid to my teen and early adult years, I was often questioned about my ethnicity due to how light my skin color was. Many times people were skeptical that I was Hispanic because I never spoke Spanish and my skin wasn’t as brown as others. With ethnicity and race, there is always the stigma of fitting within a certain criteria of identity. This is one of the themes of this article I found I could relate to.

    Finding a career path that is both fulfilling and economically satisfactory has been a big concern throughout my later years in college. I chose to study a field that suited my interests, which is Fine Arts. Originally I wanted to become an illustrator, but found that the annual salary of such careers are not enough to make a stable living out of. According to the bureau of labor statistics, the salary of a fine artist is almost equivalent to that of a minimum wage job. Though art has always been a passion of mine, I am very concerned about maintaining a stable job with a livable salary. In regards to so, I decided to look into other options where I could apply my interests in a way that would help make a living. Now I am also studying to become a secondary school teacher to not only foster creativity through my own passion, but would be enough to live a healthy and comfortable life.

  • As a Chicano, there is a lot of pressure to be Mexican. My whole family looks down on some of my cousins who are full-blooded Mexican, but their Spanish isn’t at all very good. My family still loves them, but there is this sense that they have betrayed the rest of us. Unfortunately as happens to many Chicanos, my English is far better than my Spanish. It then creates this self-fulfilling prophecy in which I get so nervous about my Spanish that I end up tripping over every single word. My family forgives it, but others who know their Spanish better do look down on me at times. Depending on the context, it can be a good thing that I have a high level of English, but even that can be seen as pretentious, but with my family and friends, it has not been the case.

    As a writer, I believe that we have a responsibility to create diversity with the content we create. I appreciate how this writer has found a way for her writing to correct misconceptions people have about Native Americans. At the same time, she stressed how it is hard to make a living as a free lance writer. It is something I hear a lot, and it is a little disheartening because being a freelance writer is something I can see myself doing in the future. I would love to go into journalism, to see my name published.

  • As a multi-ethnic woman, I identify with the author’s difficulty of finding her sense of self. My mother is caucasian and my father moved to the United States from Costa Rica when he was 29. Because my dad was struggling to learn English, we spoke almost entirely English at home. My parents spoke in Spanish to have private conversations and all I could understand were a handful of words. I felt a disconnect between myself and Costa Rica; the language, the people, and the culture felt far removed from my own experience.

    With five kids in our family, we could not afford to visit Costa Rica often. My only childhood visit was when I was 2 years old. When my Dad told stories of his life in Costa Rica, the only settings I could conjure in my mind to serve as a backdrop were my own surroundings in Kansas.

    In December, I returned home after living a year and a half in Costa Rica. Like the author, I felt a need to immerse myself in the culture to help me establish my identity, not for others but for myself. My time there was affecting. I got to know the people, the culture, and the language more intimately. In doing so, I also realized the many aspects of myself that came from this culture, no matter how remote it once felt to me.

    What I didn’t realize before were the many cultural aspects that I learned from my father that were Costa Rican. Living in Costa Rica, I recognized common behaviors and tendencies of the people that I also shared. Although it took living there to recognize these aspects of myself, they were always there whether I was aware of them or not. Like the author seemed to discover, I found that the idea some have of “authenticity” draws from stereotypes, and we can’t let those dictate how we see ourselves.

  • I can relate with the author wanting to set her own schedule and work on her own time. I love planing out my days and hate to have someone else do it for me! This article has really motivated me to pursue my journalism career and write about what I love and what inspires me, such as my culture and heritage!

  • I can relate to the author’s desire to set her own schedule and work on her own time! I love planning my days and hate when someone else determines my to do list. This article has really motivated me to pursue my journalism career and write about what I love and what inspires me, such as my culture and heritage! Love it!

  • I enjoyed this post because it shows someone doing what they love to do despite of the financial benefits or limitations that comes with it. Everyone’s ambition these days are driven by the monetary benefit and it is just a breath of fresh air to read about something different.

  • I really enjoyed this piece, and in many ways I feel i can relate. In one way; I am also a Native American women, however I am full blooded, but from two different tribes, I have also always lived on a reservation. What you said about the quantum blood, was refreshing to me, because I’ve always felt that way, so have many people, like those who have commented below, but rarly do we hear people say it. Thank you for that. I have a census card and the paper work showing i belong to my tribe, but due to my light skin complexion, i have always been treated differently, by those who feel i don’t look “native enough” or from non natives who like to ask if I’m a real “traditional native American”. I have discovered that discrimination comes in every shape and form.

    Another connection i made is what you shared about not making enough, I also went to college I got my BAS, and got several jobs that i was able to follow my passion in, but didn’t make a enough. The inspiration i got through your story is to keep moving forward, your expression allowed me to reflect on my story, to do what you love and keep moving forward. I will continue to get my education, to open more doors to spread my passion and to keep moving forward.

  • This story…I’m not sure if words are enough to describe how it makes me feel. Academically I do what is expected of me. I get good grades, I’ve picked the “right” major…but I know this path is not for me. I want to write! I want to talk about the social issues that become the greatest elephant in the room that there is! I want to encourage constructive conversation and make people think. But, where is the money in that? I love that this woman is already living her wildest dreams. Maybe it’s about time that I start living mine.

  • Reading the interesting points that stood out to me, not only because I am also a Native American woman, but because the specifics of a Native’s life can be the same throughout the different nations. Being identified by what Native people have been known for in the past, such as people who stand below every other ethnic group known to man-kind.

    Although as Native persons of this, what now called American Nation, we know as first settlers on this land is how to care for, treat, and live off of Mother Nature before all the material things were brought upon us.Now because we live in a different world as our ancestors, that does not mean we forget where we originated from, or who we are as a Native Nation.

    The new world brought upon us is not all bad, as said in the article, it brought us jobs that gave us the opportunity to experience the enterprises of life. But foremost it brought us education. In my family, you were required to get an education, not because we wanted to, but because we had to. If we wanted a good living life for ourselves and your future families, it was required. However, education is not only in the “white man’s world” but also in our own Native Heritage. It was our elders duty to teach us the Native American ways, thus our duty to teach our younger generations.

    This brings me back to the article to where she is working hard to get where she wants to be. No matter how hard it is to find a job, you find the inner strength given to you, to continue on your way to searching for the opportunities you deserve through the hard work put into your years of education. It may be hard at times, but praying and determination will get you far. It can take longer than expected, but it will be worth the time spent.

    Therefore, I would like to send a message to all people who walk this Earth given to us by the creator, we were all created equally. But it is also up to us to treat each other’s equally with respect, kindness, and love. No person should put down another, nor are they greater than another. Be happy with who you are, who you will become as a person, and most of all, do not forget where you come from. If you are not familiar with your traditions, heritage, or language, it is not too late to start. Don’t be shy to ask for help in learning the blessings you are given.

    But most of all, let’s work together to change the negative stereotypes and let people know we can be just as successful as any person on this planet.

  • I feel a sense of comradeship with individual being interviewed. I fled to the United States from Bosnia as a refugee of war when i was only eight years old, and while I have always self-identified as Bosnian, my education and upbringing have somewhat alienated me from the Bosnian community. When we came to the United States, my family settled in Indiana, a state with a very small Bosnian community and very little diversity. While I grew up speaking Bosnian in my home, eating Bosnian foods, and observing Bosnian customs, when we returned home after the conflict, I felt as if my upbringing in the U.S. had made me distinctly un-Bosnian. I was viewed as American because I spoke fluent English, wore American-style clothing, and watched American television programs. As a teenager, I developed a sense of shame for becoming Americanized and I felt that I had abandoned my culture and my ethnicity and that I did not belong anywhere. I could never truly be American, and it was impossible for me to be purely Bosnian.

    It was not until I was older that I realized what a unique situation I had been placed into. As an American, I had been gifted with a world class education and numerous opportunities to pursue my dreams, and as a native Bosnian I had experienced the events that helped to shape those dreams. When I decided to pursue a university degree I realized that unless I was working to pursue justice not only for my own people, but for people around the world, I would be miserable. Just like the author believes that work can kill the soul, it can also feed and nurture it, and that is what the legal field has done for me. What this story illustrated is the importance that love plays in a career choice. If you do not love what you do, no amount of money or success in your field will make you whole.

  • I appreciate your article. I am a half breed as they would call it up in my neck of the woods. I am half Yup’ik half Polish so I look more white than native and many people discredit my nativeness because of my skin color and the way I speak. I aspire to be a writer but just havent made the efforts to do so yet. I love to write poetry related to my upbringing with my alcoholic mother. I struggle with myself as a whole because I lost my language after I stopped taking it in school and I am having to teach myself the ways of my ancestors. Its difficult when you dont have good mentors, but I guess thats where the resiliency pops out and I keep pushing forth with learning it all on my own. After reading your story I know that anything is possible and if I change my mind further down the road its never to late to start doing something I love. Quyana!

  • It is always nice to encounter people who share similar experiences with your own. This is helpful because we can find a sense of community and strength with each other. I’m a full blooded Korean who was born in America. Because of this, I have spent the first 20 years of my life struggling between my Korean heritage and my American culture. I lived in a city with few other Koreans, never mind others who shared my predicament. Throughout this whole time, I never felt that I fit in. My parents were immigrants who spent most of my childhood speaking English in the house, to try and assimilate to living in the US. I didn’t learn much Korean and was often looked down upon for not knowing my native language. Even within my extended family who moved to the States, there was a communication barrier because I didn’t understand Korean culture. For example, I never seemed to interact with my elders in the right way. On the flip side, outside of the home, most people just saw/see me as being Asian as opposed to American. I was treated as an outsider.
    Growing up with this challenge was hard. Eventually though, I came to terms with it all. Being able to live in cities like New York City and Los Angeles, I met more and more people just like me. I was able to find my own identity and be at peace with the two sides of who I am. Because, this is what makes me the strong powerful and diverse person I am today.
    I was able to relate to the woman in this interview because I was able to overcome the factors holding me back, and I’ve been able to pursue, succeed, and achieve everything I have set out to do, because of the confidence I’ve developed and because of those whom I have had the opportunity to meet in my life. Those people shared in my struggles, and they shaped who I am today

  • This woman is an incredible role model for anyone trying to find their inner self and their place in life. These are words of wisdom for everyone, not just particularly those who are of different ethnicities.

    Since I could hold a pencil, I would constantly draw and paint. My connection to art was more than just a hobby. I would draw when I was stressed. I would paint to cheer myself up. I would draw to inspire others. Art would let me express feelings I was too fearful to express publicly and ideas that I felt others needed to know.

    What I admire most about this woman is the fact she hated what she was doing, so she changed it. That is true courage, and many people think that what she accomplished is impossible. For a long time, I stepped away from art. The homework from my classes and college applications crushed me like a wave. I had no time to even sit with a notepad and just doodle. Then, I had my first job. Let me tell you, it was the worst job ever, and for that I am grateful. At this job, I would do absolutely no work that was important or appreciated by anyone in the office. My coworkers were very negative and I barely had any work to do. I was getting paid to waste my summer sitting around waiting for a five minute project. Though that may sound like easy pay to some, I could not stand it.

    It was at this job a little voice came into my head and said “You do not want to do this forever.” The voice was right. I did not want to be plopped in a cubicle to repeatedly write reports and copy checks until I was 60. I became very depressed after having this epiphany, I was majoring in business and knew this was what I was getting myself into once I graduated. Then, the voice came back again, asking this: “So what are you going to do about it?”

    In an instant, the wheels began to turn in my head. I began to make time to draw and paint, my mood and mental health (after it was sucked out of this job) began to get better. I realized, whatever my job was, it had to have art in it. I would not be happy if my creative mind was utilized and exhausted at work. So, I researched and realized marketing with a minor in art would be the best compromise for what I want to do in life.

    I desire to become an entrepreneur, a graphic designer, or to be in management at a company and increase worker’s motivation and job enrichment with my talents in creativity. Though I won’t exactly be painting and drawing all the time, I will be inspiring others like I myself am a work of art. I know if I followed this path I would be happy and I would love my life. If there is any doubt I may have along the way, this woman is inspiration enough. She epitomizes the fact you alone have control of your life. If you are upset with how some aspects are working out, change it into situations that will make you happy.

    Truly, this woman is an example of how anyone can overcome ethnicity. I myself can relate to this woman’s struggles as a first generation American of Cuban descent. However, it is also important to realize she had a job she hated and as a result ended up creating a job that made her happy and made her life fruitful. If there is anything that should be taken away from this article, it is those two ideas.

  • This is what I have been looking for. Someone who is not ashamed of being Native American and educating others! The fact that money is still something that is an issue and there is always never enough, I hope that as a teacher I don’t struggle as much as I have been as a student in college.
    I enjoyed your story and inspires me to keep doing what I love and want to do, teaching! And the fact that you are doing your wildest dreams keeps me thinking about how I will feel when I am finally in a classroom setting and doing what I have been dreaming of doing since I was a young girl. Thank you for sharing!!!

  • Writing has been of the most transcendental and impacting professions for the past centuries. Just considering the profoundness that a book, a news story, a graphic novel, or a legal document has both in society and on personal levels indicates the effectiveness and value that the written word has. I greatly respect and admire the words of this writer for her bold choice in pursuing this career for the sake of passion and intellect instead of for economic gain, for through this she also contributes to the legacy of writing.

    I have a certain affinity to the ideas expressed by the unnamed writer of this profile, for I as well aspire to write for the entirety of my life. Particularly what has motivated me is my cultural background; I am a Latino Americano who immigrated from Colombia to the USA at a very young age, and establishing a solid identity with my roots has been a life-long effort; maintaining my language and culture proves to be challenging when my environment is everything but Colombia. In my pursuit of identity I developed a passion for language and how it implies cultural understanding. This has brought me to dive head-first into a double BA in linguistics and Latin American Studies also at the University of New Mexico. Nonetheless, I do not have a specific “dream job” as others may have, but I have a great passion for my studies that I plan to pair with investigative journalism skills to write and document the social realities of the human condition.

    Reading this profile reasserts my suspicions about a career in writing; it does not promise an economically steady future. Any writer will encounter many obstacles in modern society that may make their lives and aspirations seem like a mirage of a distant dream. However to maintain, develop, and evolve one’s creative stream of consciousness through writing is worth the effort and time. I am grateful for having read this piece, as I identify greatly with this woman’s life and am inspired to pursue writing for the sake of principal and the prolongation of consciousness.

  • While I was reading this article, I personally empathized with the interviewee’s sense of not “fitting in” until her studies in her late 40s. There is, indeed, this unsettling feeling one has – and I think, especially for women – that one’s train left the station and one didn’t know it, based on comparisons to other people at the same age and background. I can also share her angst at not having “financially achieved” (however that may be interpreted) compared to the rest of the world, and especially by one’s 50s.

    The silver lining here, IMHO, is that we women now can choose to be courageous and disregard familial and public opinion and do what’s in our own best interest. It’s recognizing and walking away from soul-killing work AND soul-killing relationships. It is what satisfies the soul that will count in the end, not how many overtime opportunities we missed (or how many clearance sales we missed, for that matter LOL). herein lies the importance of finding one’s own tribe, one’s own people and one’s own terms to live by.

    Thanks for sharing this thought-provoking article with the world.

  • I was drawn to this article because I am currently living on the Colville Reservation. Although I am not Native American, my expereinces here have provided my with motivation in my education and career choice.

    In August of 2014 I attended a Native American Conference titled “Coming Back to Our Center.” The subject of the conference was Native American-tailored healing from historical trauma and designing culturally specific public health interventions. The approach to the conference was traditional and I was the only non-Native in attendance. At first I was uneasy but quickly became comfortable as everyone welcomed me with an open heart.

    During the talking circle people discussed their personal struggles and the impact of historical and cultural trauma in their communities. During this moment I thought to myself “why is my heart feel like it’s going to pop out of my chest? Is it because I am nervous? No, that can’t be it. I have been in more nerve-racking
    situations.” I concluded that I had an epiphany, a rare eureka moment when I realized that my fellow Romani (a.k.a. Gypsy) communities in Europe have been struggling with the same trauma and conditions. I could see that the resolution of these issues is a key to our future prosperity. I needed to share this moment of realization with the talking circle and when I did I was incredibly relieved.

    Now I am returning to school to get a masters in public policy to incorporate inter-generational, cultural, childhood, and contemporary trauma into the social policy and programs for disadvantaged youth.

  • I think that all mixed race people experience similar identity issues. I myself am a Caucasian and African American biracial female college student. In my life I have faced the struggle of not fitting into either racial group. Growing up I have had sets of Caucasian and African American friend groups. One time while hanging with a group of my African American friends I was asked the question of “why I talked white”. I was shocked when
    asked this and proceeded to ask what talking white means. I was given the sadden answer of it meaning talking “smart” and that “I was better than them”.It disgusts me that my group of friends saw the way I speak made me less African American.

    I also I am very inspired by this story for the fact that this women chose a career path that will make her happy versus staying a dental hygienist where she had study work. As I am getting further into my major I am
    faced with the issues of picking what I want to do with my major of psychology. I have options of making lots of money in the cognitive and business side of psychology or choosing something that I am passionate about, children psychology, and making considerably less. As stated before this story inspired me in the fact that I should do what I love. I want a job that feeds my soul and makes me want to get up in the morning with a smile on my face.

  • As I read this article, I thought back to what it was like for me as I was growing into adulthood. Being half Italian was an automatic label and made me essentially an outcast withing the Italian community. This even included members of my extended family.This struggle to find myself in a community that was not accepting of “half-breeds” drove me to attempt to find myself. I didn’t allow the lack of acceptance to deter me from being proud of my Italian heritage. During my quest, I started learning about the traditional foods and cooking styles that were from the cities my family came from. I discovered that the different regions had different ways that they would make their own sauces and what type of sauces were typically used. Through that discovery and development of the passion of cooking, I looked to the other ethnic backgrounds that I had come from. From ages 12 to 18 I learned how to not only cook meals from the countries I came from, but also many different countries. Through it all, I found not only the passion of cooking, but the gift that I had when it came to cooking.

  • I found this article very interesting, and I could personally relate to her in many different levels. For example, she stated how people would stereotype her as a Native American woman and question her authenticity for not being full Native American. As an Mexican American, I have faced many similar stereotypes. I am very fair skin with blue eyes, and light brown hair. My appearance has confused people because, when they think of someone being Mexican, they think of a person who has dark skin, dark eyes, and dark hair. When people discover that I am Mexican, the first two questions I get asked is “why are you so white?” and “how come you have blue eyes?” Furthermore, my parents did not speak to me in Spanish, and as a result I can only carry basic conversations in Spanish. People would also state that I am not a “real Mexican” because, I cannot speak Spanish. Although this is usually done in a jokingly matter, it is sometimes hurtful.
    Another aspect I really liked was how she transitioned from a job where she had no passion, to a job that she truly enjoys. Again, I have been in a similar situation where I kept a job because, of the money but I was completely miserable. I feel a lot of Americans or stuck in the same situation, where it is difficult to find a career that pays right and yet fulfilling.

  • I found this article very interesting, and I could personally relate to her in many different levels. For example, she stated how people would stereotype her as a Native American woman and question her authenticity for not being full Native American. As an Mexican American, I have faced many similar stereotypes. I am very fair skin with blue eyes, and light brown hair. My appearance has confused people because, when they think of someone being Mexican, they think of a person who has dark skin, dark eyes, and dark hair. When people discover that I am Mexican, the first two questions I get asked is “why are you so white?” and “how come you have blue eyes?” Furthermore, my parents did not speak to me in Spanish, and as a result I can only carry basic conversations in Spanish. People would also state that I am not a “real Mexican” because, I cannot speak Spanish. Although this is usually done in a jokingly matter, it is sometimes hurtful.

    Another aspect I really liked was how she transitioned from a job where she had no passion to a job that she truly enjoys. Again, I have been in a similar situation where I kept a job because, of the money but I was completely miserable. I feel a lot of Americans or stuck in the same situation, where it is difficult to find a career that pays right and yet fulfilling.

  • Growing up as a Hispanic girl in an area predominantly inhabited by Caucasians, I’ve always felt a sense of ostracization around my peers, small though it may have been at certain intervals of my life. This sense of not belonging extended not just to the people I went to school with, but also to my family, who can all speak rapid Spanish with each other easily, while my sister and I sit and watch and struggle to understand all the words flying out of their mouths. I can empathize easily with the experiences the author went through because they mirror my own; not fitting in and being a socially awkward person are all crutches I have had to deal with from a very young age.

    Also, the fact that the author chose to a career in writing struck a particular chord with me, since that is largely the profession I’ve been yearning to do since I was in fourth grade.

  • I enjoyed reading about your journey. In this day and time many people continue to struggle with discrimination and racism and as you said people do not like to believe or admit they are being discriminatory or racist. As a black woman with a dark complexion I have experienced racism in different ways from stereotyping to people not wanting to take food from me when I worked at a restaurant because I was black. I believe that education is the key. People need to understand and acknowledge our countries past as well as present.

    I also identify with your ability to educated others. I am currently a teacher. When teaching young children I always use a multicultural approach to show children that everyone’s culture is important. One thing I would do at Christmas was teach Christmas around the world and how different people in different countries celebrate at that time of year. This helped my students to appreciate the difference that each of our cultures have and have a respect for others cultures and customs.

    Again I enjoyed reading your article and hope you continue to write and educate others about Native American culture. I do not think our country knows enough about the different tribes and their cultural relevance. The schools should teach more about Native Americans in schools besides just at Thanksgiving.

  • I can sincerely relate to this incredible story. As a young African American (black) male I entered into the nursing profession as a registered nurse at the age of 24. I have consistently practiced in my craft for over 8 years. Subsequently, oftentimes I have been the only black man within my various units, and have been singled out by the staff as well as administration. I have been subjugated to racial slurs such as “nigger” on a regular basis unit I injured my back recently. Now, as I am in the recovery phase of my injury I am going back to school in order to obtain my masters degree and ideally open up my own private practice with the emphasis on oncology and pain control. Furthermore, I have met an awesome diverse set of classmates. Many of these colleagues are interested in assisting me in my endeavors and have expressed sincere heartfelt interest in cooperating with my goals.

  • I can relate to “soul-killing work”. I’ve worked for several years as a tech support specialist for various companies. I became disillusioned at my most recent job when during training we were informed that it’s okay if we don’t help our customers or give them correct information, and also not to expect help from our superiors AND if they did offer guidance it would likely be wrong. I enjoy helping people so this bit of nonsense didn’t inspire much confidence. I was (and am) also appalled at the number of people who don’t seem to take their personal security seriously, or rather, who don’t understand the way the internet works. For example, I spoke to a number of people who would become irate because I couldn’t change their passwords for them.I just…that sort of ignorance makes me sad.

    Since my goal is to help people, I decided to quit my soul-killing job and go back to school to pursue a BS in Information System Security with a focus on digital forensics. I want to help catch and prosecute people who perpetrate internet crimes to make the world a safer place for people who are addicted to technology and don’t know better.

  • I believe there are many aspects I can agree with on this story: my family is a mix of Yaqui, Irish, African, German and Spanish. There are aspects of growing up with biracial parents (seen as brown and white, respectively) that I felt the effects of where my brother who was whiter did not. It seems the correlation is that the darker the skin you have, the less people think of you, but at the same time, having a German last name doesn’t make you sound very Yaqui, and some Yaquis truly are adamant about families being torn apart by deportations and slavery and they would suggest that indeed, you must know more pain to truly be Yaqui. They may be right. My story as well is neither a particularly sad one or a happy one, but one that has had certain realities which are difficult to accept at times.

    Some of these realities have my complicit action that has furthered their proliferation, such as driving a vehicle. There are some stories there, at the realm between struggles and stories of ancient times. There are stories of a world that is still here, but a world that is being put to the test of deep biophysical stress through climate change and its long droughts and heat waves that have led to another country being bombed and emitting thousands of refugees who are dying in their attempts to further a better life (ie: Syria and their drought, then subsequent war). I currently think of these things because we are living in a place where thousands of people have died crossing the desert, at between 200-500 people every year. Furthermore, I too believe that we must somehow preserve the stories of ancient times, and I hope someday I may get the luck to speak with more people who still live in that world, which is why I have interest in further volunteering with No Mas Muertes doing migrant aid work in the desert:some of the elders of tribes are not doing well in their journeys across. I hope to find their stories as well, but it seems that sometimes, concrete is the only earth to walk on, and it is alive too… though it will not divulge the secrets of what was once under it.

  • Reading this article, I have learned so much from being a mixed-race person and dealing with issues. I am Asian-American and an aspiring writer. Even though I did not experience what you did, but this article motivates me to work hard and use my heritage to inspire people the way you did.

    For that, I say thank you.

  • As a Black woman in America, I identify with two marginalized groups. I was raised
    in a single parent household and I am a first generation college student. Since I am a minority, my pre-education experience has been both negative and positive. I can testify to her story, because I have personally dealt with not being educated on Black culture in regards to pre-colonized Africa. I have also dealt with the lack of educational advancement, because of my area. I grew up in all White area in Culver City, where I could not attend the school within my neighborhood, because I did not live in the “area”. I had to be on permit in order for me to attend that school. A lot of people do not attend the same school they grew up in because it is not a good school and lacks resources, this all results back to economics and socioeconomic status.

  • I identified significantly with this story. As an individual who grew up on the Colville Reservation and pursuing higher education, I have struggled significantly with administration. I have witnessed significant amounts of discrimination myself both on and off the reservation. Being one of maybe 200 self-identified Native students on my college campus, I personally feel under represented and unsafe. For a young person, these factors are vital for my own success. Being someone pursuing a degree in education, I feel much more likely to be given a position in a district on one of the reservations and more prepared to take the position versus a position not on.
    In short, once someone has started their journey, they are likely to find some sort of struggle. I, for one, have seen it. However, the struggle is what makes the journey so worth it. at least this is what I have experienced.

  • It’s always awing to read stories about women whom have taken the chance to live the way they want to. Even if it’s not to the full extent of their dreams. In this day and age, that’s all young people really aspire too, which in some ways is rather sad, but it’s always encouraging to see people that have made it that far. It gives hope to newer generations that maybe we can get that far and beyond. And what’s more, it’s the cause that she’s working towards that hits home quite profoundly.

    But the story itself is relateable on many levels. Being born to a Mexican mother and a Puerto Rican father identifying as latino was never really a question for me, however I grew up in an environment with little diversity until late middleschool/early highschool. It was strange to me that often the only source of discrimination I could identify in middle school often came from the latino community, because I didn’t act ‘latino enough’ for them. And while I could often understand why they said those things, at the same time, I was often confused by the matter. Why did I have to act like a stereotype in order to be ‘latino enough’. But it didn’t bother me much after that, I was proud to be the token latino-friend in my group of friends, I enjoyed the fact that I was often looked up to and that was always a proud moment for me.

  • As I was reading this, I realized just how strongly I identified with the author’s struggles of working in a field she was not truly passionate about. A women spending over fifteen years working at a job she does not enjoy initially seems intolerable and ridiculous to me–until I realized that could easily have been me, some years from now.

    All my life, I have been good at math. From multiplication tables in elementary school to calculus worksheets in high school, math has come very easily to me. Naturally, I assumed I would major in math, then find myself in a mathematically based career. Halfway through my first semester of college, I realized that just being good at something wasn’t enough. I liked math, sure, but I wasn’t in love with it. I’ve moved on to neuroscience now, where I feel I have found my true passion–my own version of Native American beadwork and leatherwork.

    Stories like these reaffirm me, reminding me that there is nothing wrong with abandoning math after thirteen years, as long as I’ve found my passion, like the author has.

  • As a education , I believe that we have a responsibility to create diversity with the content we create. I appreciate how the author has found a way for her writing to correct misconceptions people have about Native Americans. That is exactly what I want to do as a educator.

  • This is something I worry about as a Muslim woman wearing hijab. As I study my International Human Rights degree I find that my image will challenge my work. I feel like the education provided in the curriculum does not give people a global understanding on the issues with human rights. The theories, philosophy and history behind human rights gives a very western white and male perspective on this matter. This does not give understanding to those in minority groups and the issues we face as a minority.

    I think unless we change the underlying problems to our political, educational, and social systems there will not be a global intelligence for our future generations. I find it very troubling that even in my field of knowledge there are many people still missing the point of human rights and social justice. It is still being approached from a eurocentric white male knowledge.

    I know the human rights field as a Muslim woman with hijab I will face many obstacles. There is a lot of misunderstanding about the Islam and Muslims, and although some areas of the international world are more understanding about the religion than others, I generally would have to put extra effort into my work than many who do not have this discrimination against their faith. Also as a woman, I know there will be obstacles that I will face from all angles of the world. Wearing hijab does not give a chance for people to know me for my work, it automatically symbolizes that I am Muslim. Although I have a right and will to wear it on my own, I know others are not as accepting of this therefore it causes some discrimination from a distance, even though it should not.

    However with these obstacles I want more women like myself and the one interviewed above to not let this prevent them from being successful, and that it is okay to get out of our comfort zones just to educate more people about the minority groups around the nation and the world.

  • I very much relate to your story. Your title jumped out at me originally because I too am a Native American female. Additionally, as I kept reading, I saw how you are also of Italian (Sicilian, I know, not Italian, but similar!) descent, and that’s exactly what I am! I have never encountered another person with this descent, so it was great reading your story for that and a number of other reasons.

    I am in an industry, myself, that is heavily run by men. The food animal veterinary community has for so long been dominated by male veterinarians and producers that it is very hard for a female to be trusted, respected, and allowed the same status as a male with the same credentials. Although veterinary medicine is heavily female dominated, this is by vast majority in the small animal sector. The food animal veterinarians have been male, due to history, size, strength, and willingness of men to do the hard, outdoor work.

    For me, a five-foot-one young female veterinary student absolutely enthralled with working with cattle and small ruminants, I want nothing more than to be accepted as a credible doctor when I graduate with my DVM. Unfortunately, in my pre-veterinary education, I have had the first-hand experience of being pushed to the wayside while the men take over and it is very frustrating. Something as simple as flanking a calf to its side to tie its legs (to prevent it kicking you in the face) in order to give vaccines and an ear tag for identification is a job thrown at the 13 year old boys that are helping. The men want me to stand by with fresh needles for the syringes and new ear tags for refilling for the boys.

    I have personally just jumped right in there and tried to give it my best shot at showing them I am equal, and it works about half the time. Typically, it works best when these men have known and trusted female vets that work with them on their own animals, and they think back to how they must have been prior to their DVM degree.

    I really enjoyed reading your post about how you have learned to deal with this and not give up no matter how you are treated. I admire you and I hope you continue to inspire other people, young and old.

  • When I read about the discrimination that she faced throughout her life and in her career path, I was able to greatly sympathize with her, because in high school I was looked at as different because of my ethnic background and a general stigma came with that. When I was in tenth grade, my class learned about the cold war and the red scare that occurred during that time period. The students in my class gained a new mental view of Russians as these cruel individuals, and so those portrayals were projected onto me for a several years. Because of that though, I was able to see what it was like to be discriminated against, and now I am able to help others going through the same situation.

  • I identify with this author on many levels – we both have both been accused of not being “ethnic enough” by members of our own race, we both believe the job market is not diverse enough, and we both believe in doing work that is challenging but ultimately benefits our communities. I admire the author’s strong sense of self, she knows when a job is toxic and she knows when a job lifts her spirits. Although I am just beginning my academic career as a female African American graduate student in a field that is in great need of racial diversity, I hope that my professional opportunities when I graduate, will allow for the representation of ethnic diversity.

    I am a firm believer in the importance of high cultural diversity within colleges and universities. Diversity allows us to learn from our differences and experience the world in new and unfamiliar ways. The author experienced these benefits when she went back to school for her Native American Studies degree. She was amongst her peers and she said it helped her come to terms with previous discrimination she experienced.

    Through my personal involvement with programs like Strategies for Ecology Education, Diversity & Sustainability (SEEDS), I have demonstrated my commitment to diversity. SEEDS is a program of the Ecological Society of America. Its slogan is “diverse people for a diverse science.” A fellow student and I decided to establish a UC Berkeley chapter of SEEDS on our campus to diversify the field of ecology at Cal. We implemented a mentor program which consisted of graduate students mentoring undergrads who had an interest in their research. I participated in this mentorship and worked with a Ph.D. candidate for three years on paleoecology.

    All of us were able to share our school and life experiences with each other, bringing better understanding of alternate views. I want other members of underrepresented and lower income communities to know that they can reach their own academic potential with hard work and dedication. I thank this author for her words and her reassurance for other students of color like myself.

  • I identify with this author since we believe that the job market is not diverse enough, and I admire that she certain jobs can bring positivism to our lives, and other jobs can pull us down. As a Hispanic graduate student conducting scientific research, I am aware of the lack of diversity not only in the job market, but in academia as well. I just hope that posts like the one provider by the authors helps inspired other newer generations of undeserved groups to join programs in school or at work that help increased diversity. I think diversity in school and at work is fundamental for the future of our nation.

  • As a multi-racial woman, I often share a difficulty categorizing my identity. There are expectations set in place when you identify with a certain race. I am a quarter Mexican, but I don’t always pass – particularly in Southern Arizona where I attend college. My identity has often been questioned, as I lack the cultural background of my race. I have often been told that because I am only a quarter Hispanic that I have no right to consider myself Mexican.

    Because of these microaggressions, I found it incredibly hard to identify myself in the university community. I was wary of Hispanic centers as I wasn’t sure that they would accept me. I speak Spanish, but it’s based in education, not home-life. The closest I’ve come to embracing the culture in my childhood was when my grandma made tortillas. Though aware of the culture, I felt separated.

    In my freshman year of college, I was cast in the Vagina Monologues, and I immediately connected with our director. She lived in Nogales, mere steps from the US-Mexico border, and she fit the cultural expectations I had longed to experience. She took me under her wing, and without judgement, recognized me as Hispanic. Through her, I began to receive the cultural connection I had long lacked.

    Today, she and I remain friends, and I am constantly learning about my heritage. As both multi-racial and a woman, I feel empowered to claim that identity, regardless of my blood.

  • Thank you. I enjoyed reading the responses to the interview. I hope the interviewee has successfully found a way to prosper as a writer and academic in her selected living location.

    One of the experiences I immediately related to was the response given to the type of internal and external discrimination experienced as a result of one’s own racial/ethnic background. I, too, am multiethnic. I am an African American Mexican American (Blaxican) woman born in California. My father is African American and my mother is a Chicana. I lost my father to the crack epidemic of the 1980s; and was raised by my maternal side and the streets of San Francisco.

    Discrimination these days is not always some blatant phenomenon. Similar to what has been stated, discrimination can be in the guise of internal microaggressions.

    Internalized hatred and racism pervaded my childhood and coming of age years. One of my aunts, who technically is a woman of color, called my brother and I “nigger babies.” The people who raised me assimilated themselves to the dominant culture and in turn lost themselves.

    I do not speak Spanish nor am I aware of Mexican culture because my native language and traditions were never taught to me. Furthermore, I was never “Black” enough; because I listened to punk rock and was not fully immersed in “Black culture” as well. Unfortunately, individuals from both minority groups have bullied me during my elementary and secondary years of schooling.

    Today, after years of healing, I protect myself from existing harm by forging my own authentic identity and selecting individuals I desire to have in my life. I create my family; and I navigate shark tanks of discrimination through community activist work as well as honoring my true self by journaling and poetry.

    Writing heals.

  • I can relate to having to deal with subtle shades of discrimination within myself as a minority (Asian American woman) and congratulate you on overcoming your biases through connecting with others, in education and writing. I find it interesting that “not fitting in” can still be on the back of your mind while you have created and have done amazing and impactful things more notably on educating others about the Native American culture. Thank you for your honesty and spirit of helping others without being driven by the allure of money and staying committed to the principal of balancing your professional and personal life. I too, try to work on this balance everyday and love how you are paving your own path in truth by not only becoming an advocate and empowering those experiencing discrimination, but by overcoming your own internal challenges by living more authentically each day.

  • Reading this interview was inspiring for me, I relate to her in so many ways. I also don’t belong to a community. I am Peruvian, but after living in the USA for so many years I feel disconnected from my Peruvian family, their lives, and their values. To them I am the “gringa,” and I don’t feel like I belong there anymore. On the other hand, in the USA I am still often seen as “exotic,” a term I don’t care for. Here I am the fun ethnic friend, and everyone wants my help on their Spanish homework.

    I don’t quite belong to either world, and I have experienced discrimination because people can’t really put me in box. I’ve been mistaken for Mexican a lot, also Italian, Middle Eastern and even as white. I understand that people often feel safe and comfortable among their own ethnicity, color, or language, but there are plenty of us who fill that lonely middle place in Venn Diagrams.

    I also totally understand prioritizing doing what she loves, and finding a work-life balance above making a lot of money. For me, being happy, feeling like I’m doing something important or impactful is more important than making a big check; but I know that sometimes bills have to be paid and you have to take on work you don’t find as meaningful. In my line of work I expect to do just that, working towards the day where I can be financially stable while doing what I love. There will be a lot of bumps on the road, but those goals are what make life worth living.

    Lastly, I want to thank her for sharing her story. It is not one of overnight fame and fortune, and she’s not a sad case looking for pity. She is a real woman, working hard, dealing with all the surprises that life throws at her. I have heard so many stories of people who get to medical school, or law school, or start a business and become successful and just do that for the rest of their lives. The older I get and the more I hear people’s stories the more I realize that life is a roller coaster, and there is no straight road to success for most of us.

    I believe it’s really important to hear stories like these, imperfect lives led by intelligent, and hardworking–though imperfect–people. Knowing that most people live lives full of ups and downs, interruptions, changed plans, and unexpected love can help us feel normal when we ourselves are going through the same thing. We shouldn’t feel like failures because the job right out of high school doesn’t make us rich and famous overnight. Life and happiness are journeys, not destinations, unlike what movies would have us believe. She is a great example of working for your dreams, as hard as it may be sometimes, and finding what makes your heart happy more than what fills up your wallet.

  • I appreciate her desire to explore the fixed ideas behind ethnicities and races, when in fact there is a lot of fluidity within a person’s identity. I enjoyed her honesty about her salary as sometimes I think people underestimate the difficulty in being able to commit to something you are passionate and still making a sustainable living. It a critique that needs to be made about many of the industries that are not valued enough anymore due to the advancement of technology. While it admirable to do something you love, it is sometimes important to a person’s well being to have a job that provides well enough to live off.

    I was also interested in journalism for a long time, before I decided I wanted to have career in communications, which incorporates journalism, but is a little broader. Having the ability to reach so many people and create discussions of discourse for other people to have is very meaningful to both of us. I also grapple with the misconceptions given to people with color, especially with people within the African diaspora. I desire to use and change media apparatuses to shift those ingrained ideas. A lot of these ideas can change if there are actual people who represent those communities giving varied and diverse perspectives on their identity and about their experiences. I want to work for media organizations that desire to promote and use the stories of marginalized people to create more understanding in communities and societies with a multitude of identities.

  • I truly understand this writer’s life. I’ve been a freelance writer for more than 20 years. Like her, I love the freedom it affords. Like her, I’m a single mother, which makes that freedom even more precious. Unlike her, I’ve managed to make a very good living at it, but only because, for most of the 20 years, I’ve worked for corporations. But like her, I’m working to do something that matters — and like her, that means manifesting my cultural self. I’m back in school earning a masters, a graduate certificate and considering a PhD. I know all too well the back and forth—security vs. freedom; safety vs. danger; doing what’s profitable vs. doing what’s personally important.

  • I originally picked this article because the author is Native American, which I also am, and also because of

    the soul-killing job part. After reading, I found there was much more here than I thought. One thing that

    stood out to me was the alienation felt by being part of two races. For me, I am Native American and

    African American, but the problem lies with my skin tone. I am very light skin. I was always too white for

    black kids, and too black for white kids. The other thing that made me think about myself was all the job

    searching. Doing something you want to do that also makes money. I don’t know exactly what career I

    want. I guess I have an idea, but even then, when people ask me what I want to do, I just say something

    business-like, since that’s my major. Like her I wanted to be a teacher also, but that’s a job that doesn’t

    seem to pay enough. I read one of the other articles, where the author said she could make 25,000 a year

    full time (not counting the summer months). That seems fine for one person, but it also seems like it might

    be cutting it a little close. So I chose business because I had thought of being a boss or something like that

    when I was younger and I’m sure I would get enough money from it. Hopefully I can find joy in it too. And

    hopefully I can get experience like this woman has, without being lost or changing jobs/careers so much. I

    just don’t want to graduate and think “what now?”. Then end up being 50 something, still with no clue.

  • This has been one of the most heartening pieces I have read in quite a while. I am a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. However, thanks to a variety of factors, my identity as a Native has always been called into question. your mention of the blood quota and the “ideal Indian” really struck a chord with me. Though I have experienced it all of my life, I had never been articulate the experience that you have so clearly identified in your own life. The experience of never belonging in either world (Caucasian of Choctaw) is something that has plagued my entire life.

    My grandmother, who was born and raised on and near the Choctaw reservation, always made it clear that to be successful is to be white. As a Native woman herself, growing up during WWII, she found her path to success by minimizing her public association with her heritage. As I have grown, I have seen how that experience still haunts her today. I do not want to suffer the same regrets, but often find myself making the very same decisions she made.

    To a certain extent, I do not think that neither myself, nor my grandmother, have actively acknowledged the role that discrimination has held in our lives. A clear memory comes into my mind. In 5th grade, every student in my class did a family heritage project, where we researched our culture and gave a class presentation dressed in the traditional garb of said culture. When I showed up to class, I was written off as a wanna-be and fake. No-one would acknowledge the heritage that I had been so proud to share with them. After that day, I learned just why my grandmother had denied her heritage and culture publicly.

    However, at the University of Arizona, I had the opportunity to belong to the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Consortium, a small group of underrepresented students whose goal was to participate in cutting edge research and further their goals in graduate school. For some reason, just as I was surprised at our own shared experiences, I was surprised at how similar I was to these other students. My situation is not unique. However tragic it is that we all had similar experiences, we all used these shared experiences to come together and make ourselves better people and better students because of it. It amazed me that no-one questioned my role as an underrepresented student or my validity as a Native female.

    Thanks to the opportunities provided by this program, I will be attending Stanford University as a student in the program for Master of Science in Laboratory Animal Science. I will have the opportunity to participate in research in their esteemed Comparative Medicine department. However, with a small cohort of other students, I can only hope that Stanford lives up to its reputation of inclusivity. Though I will be the only Native student in the program, I hope that I will not let myself hide my heritage and culture.

    I hope that one day, I can do as you do and enjoy my passions and be proud of the work I am doing while, at the same time honoring and embracing my culture. Though STEM fields are notoriously male dominated and Native members are few and far between, I hope to be able to carve a path for future females and Natives, so that they may know that it can be done and it can be done well. Just as this brave and proud woman has succeeded, I wish to as well.

  • Thank you for sharing this and giving an indigenous person the platform to share her experience as a person as well as a working indigenous woman in the United States.

    I really identified with the interviewee’s described internal need to make a difference in the world, to gently educate be it significantly or just for a moment. I can’t remember ever existing without that need. I truly believe that filmmaking found me. I’d always been passionate and curious about identity and how the world around us shapes who we are. But when Trayvon Martin was murdered in 2012, and his killer was not convicted in 2013 –I was changed.

    I was sitting in on my bed in my apartment in Beijing and all I could think was “They still don’t see us.” I went back to New York to pursue a career in film, where I could bring the humanness that I see to black, brown, and women bodies. Like your interviewee, I’m not expecting to change the world with my film. But I can only pray that my intentions meet the minds of those who see them. I believe in storytelling, I believe in it’s ability to make us feel and see. I am studying at NYU to learn how to tell a compelling visual story without leaving the complexities that identity (race, gender, sexual orientation, family structure, etc.) brings, behind.

    I am glad the interviewee has found pathways to empower her own identity and the identity of her people through her work. It’s not an easy road.

  • Thank you for sharing your story. It was a pleasure reading
    your responses to the interview.

    I am African American. The feud with team light skin and team
    dark skin has always been heartbreaking but also eye opening to me as a young African
    American woman. My discrimination came directly from family members because I
    lived in an all-black community where my skin tone was darker.
    I was often questioned if my father was actually my father or if my mother was
    actually my mother. Many family members were neglectful of me because I looked
    nothing like them. The discrimination followed as I grew up and began going to
    school and working I was often picked on for being a darker skin tone.

    I tried researching on how to lighten my skin and skin
    bleaching products. My mom soon found out that I was saving my money and researching
    on lighter skin tones and broke down crying in my arms. I was only 15 and
    beginning my time at a local high school. From that point on if it was not my
    skin that was discriminated against
    people found smaller things to discriminate me with that was influential or a
    staple in the black community such as my dislike of southern food,(because I was
    not allowed to dislike fried chicken or ramen) music (I related and found peace in Pop music
    and not rap or r&b) and the fact
    that I was as skinny as a rod (and not curvy as the famous Beyoncé). Defining my
    “blackness” was something I struggled with for over 20 years, it wasn’t until I
    attended Meredith College and NCSU that I had the opportunity to be exposed to
    a diverse black community of women have struggled with their skin tone and the African
    American culture as well.

    I took it upon myself
    to work on my self-esteem and help girls who were also struggling with their
    African American “authenticity” and this ultimately helped me find my voice as I
    work with victims of human trafficking through community outreach and awareness
    about the problem I am able to speak and write confidentially about the issue
    and discrimination that I faced in my past and the discrimination that we as
    African American women continue to face.

  • Being of another culture can lead you to understanding people or people that don’t want to learn about other cultures. Throughout my high school career I have experienced both. I am Mexican, and I have traveled all over the world learning to respect other cultures. Learning to respect the people that are not like me. However, it can be hard for other people to understand other cultures and that leads them to say rude comments that can truly affect someone even if they are just ‘joking’. And understanding her story made me realize that even though she has sometimes been discriminated she found comfort in writing which is a strength nobody will ever take away from her. And even though she was faced with many challenges growing up she still does what truly makes her happy. She accepts and protects her heritage because it belongs to her and nobody can make her believe other wise and that is very inspiring.

  • I want to thank you for sharing you experiences, identities, and challenges. I want to thank you for expressing your thoughts about how your identity as a mixed woman as come into play while in the workforce. This entire interview resonated with me on a personal level as I too am Native American. Your discussion of minimizing the Native experience with the blood quantum is very interesting and made me reflect on my own life and my experiences with my fellow Native Americans.

    I think, in addition to the workplace, the classroom can also be a place a lot of minorities feel left out, misrepresented, and underserved. When it comes to the Native population, many students deal with discrimination based upon the American education system’s standards for social studies education. I am very passionate about education reform on the topic of Native American history and how this education has played a role in the continued discrimination against Native peoples. I found that students were coming to college not even knowing that Natives were still alive and believed that Natives were what their primary schools taught them to be: history. Issues like this don’t just stop with the graduation of high school or college, but are carried into the workforce and can affect millions.

    This discrimination being intwined in children’s education has helped create the extremely polarized social climate that is present in the United States. I think that your career path would have been much easier and faced with less hardships if education was improved across the United States. I also think that you are a trailblazer and want to thank you for taking your time to be an inspiration for not only your fellow Native Americans, but also to people who battle with self-doubt and describe themselves as free-spirited.

  • Thank you for being so honest about your experiences. In my short time on this planet, I too have been trying to find a way to respond to discrimination in a way that turns it in to a learning experience. I also admire your courage, it takes a lot to pursue a passion when a stable job is temptation. I remember calling my father during my first semester of college and telling him that I was changing my major from drama to medicine because I wanted to be able to take of the family but he told me to do what I love and that our family would always be taken care of.
    I sometimes thinks about what it would be like if I had decided to become a lawyer or something else more repetitive but I think my experience would’ve been much like yours. I don’t think I could sleep at night if I decided to chase money instead of doing what enriches my life because we only get one life (depending on your beliefs).
    I also relate to your segment about having more education makes you more credible. I am a writer for one of New York University’s many school papers and I try to make sure that all of my sources are credible and that I myself am also being truthful and properly educated about what I am writing about.

  • It’s unbelievable how much I can relate to this article. I grew up in a racial diverse community and because it was so diverse there didn’t seem to be a need to teach about other cultures in school. It was a like a bitter sweet. People grew knowing very little about other culture despite the fact they we were a very diverse community. I guess the community believed we would teach one another. I remember when I was middle school a few of my friends were scared of getting deported because they were in the U.S. illegally and suddenly, every Hispanic became labeled as Mexican or illegal. Which was ironically funny because in my family, I do not speak Spanish fluently nor do I write it or read it, however, I do understand it perfectly, so for some of my family members I am not considered Hispanic. And, because I was not born in Honduras or in El Salvador, I am considered neither. As I grew older, I have to learn to proper stand up for who I am and who my people are. I am Hispanic. I am Honduran. I am Salvadoran. I am not Mexican. I am not Illegal. And just because a few are Illegal doesn’t not label all as illegals.

Find Jobs



WORK SMART

What would it be like to stop feeling blindsided by the job search process? To know what the person reading your resume you is thinking? To wake up feeling thrilled to be working for the company you want to work for? You can do it with our new book 'WORK SMART - How to Land a Job at a Great Company and Get Promoted'. Click here to get WORK SMART now.

Tell Us!

Have an interesting career story to tell about beating the odds? We’d love to hear it!

Find Jobs