Dear Aunt Sophie,
I hate Bill O’Reilly. He’s gone and f***ed me out of my identity and my livelihood. He and his exaggerated western, Judeo-Christian ideas of honesty and integrity. What an a**h***.
Single-handedly he’s seen to it that I’ll never again be followed around by adoring undergraduates. By now I’m sure you’ve seen that great clip of me coming out of a building with a very pretty little chippie at my left shoulder with a clip-board. (Didn’t my hair look sensational?) She obviously adores me. She’s writing down my every word. Couldn’t that low-life O’Reilly have thought for a minute that a guy might enjoy this? Might even cultivate it? How could he just go and pull the plug on me?
Ok, so I’m an almost-Indian. You see, when I was a boy I thought Indians were cool, what with the scalping and all that, and when we played I always wanted to be the Indian. The other kids would make fun of me because I was the biggest kid on the block and they thought only the little dorky kids should be Indians. So I agreed to be a cowboy, but at great personal cost. I never could get into the whole oppression thing.
But that’s neither here nor there. You’ve never tried running an ethnic studies department or you’d know how hard it is. You’re expected to have felt the lash of oppression, to have it imprinted in your bone marrow. No white-bread vanilla kind of guy with the last name of a British f***ing prime minister has any cred in those circumstances.
Until three weeks ago I had a good life. I still have it to some extent, but the double-dealing Eurocentrists that run my institution are going to pressure me to leave. I can just feel it. Deceitful white men that they are, they’re plotting to get rid of me. They can’t push me out openly because I have tenure, but they’ll make my life miserable. They’ll give me less and less to do until I don’t have any classes to teach. You know how they do it. And it’s all his fault, that long, scrawny paleface big mouth SOB.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with being a near-Indian. After all most people don’t even come close. But the problem is I’ve made my entire career on being one and now that I’ve had to admit I’m pretty much like everybody else things are looking bleak. I’ve had a couple of speaking engagements cancelled, well, maybe not exactly because of my pedigree, it might have had something to do with that remark about little Eichmanns, but having to admit I’m 99.99% boring European certainly didn’t help. I suppose next thing I’ll have to get my hair cut.
They’re all snickering behind my back. With my highly developed quasi-Indian sense of hearing, I can tell. I can hear it.
How can I salvage my position?
Once an Indian
Being a non-Indian isn’t that bad. Most of us manage to get used to it while still eating our three squares a day and enjoying the occasional marshmallow around a campfire. You might be able to rehabilitate your image by saying you meant you were really a Hindu Indian, but one who’s planning to come back in his next life as a Cherokee. You could explain that when you were in college you smoked some bad peyote and ever since you’ve always gotten your Indians mixed up. Might help. At least it should resonate with your retinue.
Your problem is with those very few people in the college business who didn’t lose their minds in the 60’s. They still think a Comanche is a Comanche is a Comanche. For them it’s pretty obvious - if your father had had a long trunk and a longer memory you’d be an elephant, and if he’d been a Mohawk, well, I guess you’re still sharp enough to fill in the blanks. Let’s just say you wouldn’t be in quite the awkward position you’re in today.
But don’t despair. There are many ways to scalp a cat, even a quintessentially 60’s kind of cat like you. If your family forest can’t produce any Indians, you should ransack it for a black ancestor. Failing that, root around for any Anglo-named Hispanic relatives. In the end, if you can’t find any acceptable forbears there’s always the option of changing your sex, oops, gender. It won’t help you in the ethnic studies department, but you can always start a transgender studies program where there will be no question that you’re the real thing.
O’Reilly couldn’t have pulled the bearskin out from under your moccasins without considerable help from you. Next time you invent a persona make sure it doesn’t speak with forked tongue.