My last name is Gagliardi.
Go ahead…look it up, I’ll wait.
*bakes some cookies*
It’s Italian for strong, brave, vigorous and audacious.
But I actually and proudly identify as Native American. I am a Person of Color.
No..No..let me explain!
First, allow me to show what Person of Color is, first from Wikipedia:
Person of color (plural: people of color; persons of color) is a term used primarily in the United States to describe any person who is not white.
That’s a little too broad. Here’s one from WriteWorld:
People of Color: Refers to anyone who is not white. A term of inclusion and solidarity referring to Blacks, Native Americans, Latinos, and Asians. This term is often preferable to other inclusive terms such as minority and nonwhite. While people of color are a minority in the United States, they are the majority of the world’s population. Use of the term minority, some claim, therefore obscures this global reality and in effect reinforces racist assumptions. To describe people as non-white is to use whiteness as the standard or norm against which all others are defined. The term people of color is a political statement. People may choose to identify themselves this way for reasons that include physical appearance, racial and/or cultural heritage, class, and political perspective. This is a debated term.
So there you go. I highlighted the important parts. Now for my part about how I’m Native American.
You see, I know that my dad’s side is Italian and Cherokee (or possibly Shawnee—that’s another post). My mom’s side is Native American, Germanic (and hebrew from there.) Irish and Italian.
Now you’d think I’d identify as Irish or Italian, right because I look tan/’olive’ (i hate that term) like Celto-Italian person, right?
Nope. I love researching my Native culture. I love reading the myths. I feel connected to those myths. I love reading about how Natives dressed, I base my own paganism around indiginous ideals—that we are all connected, nature is important and we need to take care of it, that type of thing.
Why am I bringing this up? I had a jackass on facebook telling me I was a phony. He then proceed to use a Kaiilia (from the Gor series of fiction) language word to call me a retard.
Well, I thought it was important to post something, to say something. I’ve been a bit of a doormat lately. I’ve let my emotions get the better of me. I’ve been trying not to say anything that could make people mad or me upset.
But I have to say something tonight. To not only misgender me (I am dual spirited, that is transgender), call me a ‘fat slob’ (yes, I am overweight. I’m not perfect. and i am trying to shed the pounds) but to say things like “you’re a wanna be native” or “you call yourself Cherokee?” is just damn insulting!
NO, I am NOT a wanna be. Yes, it’s true I do not know much about my heritage. That’s because my biological father and his family does not talk to me. They don’t acknowledge I exist except for 2-3 very short years of my life when I was taken off of my mom because she abused me and he wanted power over her again. Other than that, they don’t talk to me. I have no one on that side I can confide in or ask questions.
On my mom’s side, my grandfather is dead (I hope he is resting well.). My grandmother, aunt, aunt, and uncle don’t talk to us anymore because of a variety of reasons.
I want to learn about my culture, about my heritage. I google when I can, I read what I can. It’s not perfect but it’s a start. NO, that does NOT make me a wanna be. That makes me at best, like a toddler. And we all had to start somewhere.
As for the “you call yourself Cherokee?” No, I don’t. My blood. My heritage. My family. All of those things make me Cherokee. To insinuate that I am faking it, and that I am not what I claim is disgusting, bigotry, and hateful.
I won’t stand for it.
At the end of the day I am who I am. I am a Cherokee woman. If you don’t like it, tough. I am who I am that’s all that I am.