I am not a fucking “Cherokee Princess.”

My red cheeks and light skin tell the world I am as Irish as my mother.
But my skin carries an olive tone not found in the rest of my family.
My hair falls differently.
My cheekbones higher and wider.
My eyes a faint almond shape.
Genes whispering stories of long forgotten ancestors

Questions asked over and over to me in school.
“What tribe are you?”
While I seek, still, to understand the nature of the drum beat in my blood and why it was one day in high school that a guy told me to come back over, he’d scalp me.

Yet, I do not claim tribal privilege.
I do not seek to align myself in a way that dishonors the dead while exploiting the living.
I fear approaching you.
I fear your reaction.
I fear saying, “My father did not know and we did not search and so he withheld my blood, my past, my hope, my history.
I have heritage, but no culture.”

I fear saying “teach me.”

So I hang back
I study.
I speak passionately for equal rights.
I talk of my Cherokee self to those close
Yet when I am with you
Say nothing.

I do not want you to roll your eyes.
I fear your rejection.
I do not want to be one of
Them who want status.
I only want to know my past.

Are we so different?

~Shauna Brock, April 2011

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