What responsibility do scholars and activists have to the communities they represent? Following recent ethnic fraud revelations, why have people paid so much attention to Rachel Dolezal and so little to Andrea Smith? Today host Karma Chavez spoke with professors Kim Tallbear and Robert Warrior to discuss the long history of “red face,” and the controversy that has emerged post-Dolezal about the Nobel-prize-nominated, supposedly native scholar, Andrea Smith.
Andrea Smith claimed for years she was member of the Cherokee Nation without having any true lineage. While it has been known for years, it has not gained any attention from national news outlets. Rachel Dolezal, former president of the NAACP in Spokane, Washington, received much media attention following the allegations she lied about her racial identity, identifying herself as black.
Indian Country published an open letter written by indigenous women scholars calling for an open discussion on the issue, saying ” We hope to elicit productive dialogues about deeply fraught and painful issues, and to suggest paths forward for continued and complex analysis of the roles identity plays in the work we do.” While Smith has alleged claimed to no longer identify at Cherokee, she still describes herself as a indigenous scholar, which the authors of the letter argue allows her to represent communities of which she does not belong.