In the wake of last night's debate debacle, where Scott Brown continued to sling his ignorant views on Native identity, I'm sharing this message written by Patrick Sauer, a freelance writer based in Brooklyn. You can find this story and others on the blog "As You Can See" I'm Not A Native American. (Also, see the UPDATE after the jump.)
Dear Senator Brown,
I want to show you a picture.
These are my nephews. Amos is in front, older brother Waylon is in back. They're fun kids, I think you'd like them. If either of your daughters ever decides to have a child, these dudes are the kind you want. They're lively, spirited, rambunctious, and they have just enough of our family's Irish ancestry to be the quintessential Massachusetts natives.
Let me show you another picture.
That's my youngest brother, Daniel. You've probably figured out he's Amos and Waylon's Dad. I think you'd like Dan as well. He's a man's man, makes his own sausage, catches his own fish, grows his own vegetables, and of course, drives his own pickup truck. He's also a diehard Red Sox fan who once said that the day they won the 2004 World Series was "the greatest day of his life." (He was already married by then.)
This should perk your ears up, Senator. Dan's also a Bay State small business owner. He was formerly a rising star in the high stakes New York City restaurant racket, tutored under Tom Colicchio in fact, but as is wont to happen, he fell in love with a local girl and now he and wife Wenonah own 7a Foods. For my biased money, he makes the best sandwiches on Martha's Vineyard. They had to scrimp and save, work other jobs, and yes, cut through ribbons of red tape, but they're doing it. Dan is more or less the living embodiment of the small business owners you've pledged to fight for.
He's a lefty, but a reasonable one, and last summer he paid you a high compliment saying, "Scott Brown's alright. He's more or less a Democrat." Tell you what, Senator, you drop in on 7a Foods to talk shop with Dan and the sandwiches are on me. I'm currently partial to the "Liz Lemon," hot housemade pastrami, turkey, swiss, coleslaw, Russian dressing and potato chips on rye. Trust me, Senator. You want to go to there.
I have a few more pictures to show you.
I love this one. Look at those little guys, the camouflage just spells trouble. Can you imagine anyone having anything awful to say to my awesome fair-haired nephews? No?
How about now?
Oh, I should note that Amos and Waylon aren't playing dress-up. Family friend Ona Ignacio nailed a perfect description of Amos and Waylon on Facebook.
"Wild Blonde Indians!"
You see that man peeking out in the bottom left-hand corner? That's their grandfather, Jeffrey Madison, full-blooded descendent of the Wampanoag Tribe of Aquinnah. I'm sure you're familiar with the tribe, Senator Brown, considering their people have been on Martha's Vineyard for 10,000 years. You've at least heard of the legendary Amos Smalley, right? He's the tribal bad-ass who harpooned a 90-foot Great White Whale. The same majestic creature that's believed to be the inspiration for a Massachusetts writer by the name of Melville.
Just a couple more photos, Senator. Please, indulge me. There might be votes in it.
Oh hey, look, there's mom! Nonie isn't quite as pale-faced as her kids, is she Senator? Darker skin, knottier hair, but damn if that DNA didn't fall on the Celtic-y, English-y, Alsace-Lorraine-y side of the color spectrum. Genetics are a funny thing.
You now what's not so humorous, though, Senator Brown? Race-baiting. Pure ugly unadulterated those people are getting away with something pandering.
I thought about my nephews when those hilarious Massholes turned one of your campaign rallies into an Atlanta Braves game, circa 1995. Staffers of yours to boot? I wonder what my nephews, let alone their mother (To paraphrase Damon Wayans, Nonie don't play!), would have thought if they'd happened upon the rally. Well, Amos is his Dad's son, so he would have been oblivious. Although he might have started punching backward-hat guy in the balls just for the fun of it. Kid's got a lot of Justin in him.
Waylon, on the other hand, would have known exactly what the vibe was. He's his Mother's son, precocious, sensitive, super perceptive, and often too-smart-for-his-own-good. Just how is Nonie suppose to explain the glee your people are taking in mocking Waylon's blood relatives? As a loving parent, can you offer any advice? Have you ever had to have a conversation like that, Senator Brown? I just hope Waylon doesn't dial it up on YouTube because at five, he already knows how to use an iPad. Doesn't miss a trick, that one.
Whether my family is going to vote for you or not (SPOILER ALERT: They're not), they are Massachusetts residents. Same as the mouth-breathers equating Native American taunts and "Yankees Suck!" They're your constituents and they're Indians. Proud Indians whom I've yet to see unleash any tomahawk chops or war whoops, unlike say, the people on your payroll.
This picture is from an actual Wampanoag pow-wow. If you get re-elected, maybe you could pay a visit in 2013?
I was going to let this thing drop, Senator Brown. I live in Brooklyn, I have no dog in this political fight. And I was willing to accept that you won't tolerate that racist nonsense form your campaign workers, except then this morning, this ad was linked to on my Twitter feed. What the hell? Just because there's no war paint or headdresses doesn't mean you're not pushing the same troglodytic buttons. I'm sure you'd claim that the new ad is about Elizabeth Warren being a "liar," but at the same time, you'll be ignoring what she lied about? Subtext is the text. Otherwise, you'd be attacking her policy ideas. There is no evidence Warren gained anything through her mistaken Cherokee heritage, so could you please accept her Occam's Razor explanation and drop the bigoted Go Go Gophers bit?
And if you won't, could you please explain your reasons for demonizing Native Massachusetts Americans to this family, Senator Brown? Or maybe you can't see what you're doing.
Patrick Sauer is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn (Credits include ESPN, Fast Company, Deadspin, Inc. NSFWCORP.com., Biographile and many other websites and magazines.)
UPDATE (5:25 PM EST): Thank you so much to everyone for the support of Patrick's story and my post from earlier this week. We want to keep the momentum going for the topic of mixed-blood Native identity, and force it into the media debate here in Massachusetts.
To that end, we need your help -- if you or anyone you know has a similar story to ours, please refer them to our blog, "As You Can See," I'm Not A Native American. You don't have to be as eloquent as Patrick, but telling one's story in one's genuine voice has a power all its own. And pictures help, but they are not necessary!
You don't have to be from Massachusetts (though before Nov. 6, it doesn't hurt!) because our message is not just to Scott Brown, but to all the good-hearted Americans who, only because they haven't been exposed to it, don't understand how complex the relationship between Native identity and skin color is in the 21st century.
But whatever the case, please tell your friends and family about the site, and link it to your social media if you are comfortable doing so. The farther this message spreads, the more likely it is we can have a real impact on people's understanding of the ignorance of Scott Brown's attitude towards ethnic identity in advance of next month's election.
Thank you again, fellow Kossacks! You've made me very glad I took the leap and starting speaking out.