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Welcome to Your Authentic Experience – 9/23

Reading the short story, Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience, felt like something out of a Black Mirror episode. Not many assigned readings I have had in the past have actually captivated me like this one did, while also touching on a very relevant and serious topic in today’s society.

The plot of this story is told in a second person POV, which is an incredible tactic to make the reader internalize every emotion the main character is experiencing with the author constantly saying “you” while describe what the character is going through. The main character is Jesse Turnblatt, but goes by Jesse Trueblood instead to sound more “native” for the virtual reality company he works for. This company provides a virtual reality experience of live as a Native to rich white people. Jesse is an indigenios Native American but is forced to learn a type of fake realness the white people want that coincides with the Native live that Hollywood movies illustrate.

Jesse ultimately losing his job as he lets his guard down and describes his true life of a Native to a white man who claims he is Cherokee, but in reality only has one Cherokee relative, portrays the concept that America tends to only romanticize the Native culture that fits in their media-based stereotype, not any true culture told from actual Natives.

It is painful to read how Jesse accepts this appropriation of his culture, just so he can keep his job and support himself financially. Jesse experiences cognitive dissonance because he knows this isn’t the real him. The corporate world in America can truly make people lose their self-dignitity and self-identity simply for one to maintain their jobs.

This story also reminds me of the recent social movement to start banning offensive mascots from sports-teams and schools that appropriate Native American cultures, as well as other non-dominant cultures in America. It angers me to think about how Native American’s must have felt seeing sports teams like the Washington Redskins, and school mascots that resemble Native Americans (a recent example is Winchester High School in Massachussets replacing their Sachem mascot) appropriate their culture with no respect. There is a fine line between appreciating another culture and appropriating it, and I hope America learns the difference (and if you don’t know the difference then just don’t do it!!)

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One Comment

  1. Delaney Demaret Delaney Demaret

    One thing I find most interesting about the mascots debate is which teams have been deemed acceptable, and which not. As of right now, the Chicago Blackhawks have no intention of changing their brand, stating that they work in cooperation with the Blackhawk tribe. If a team/brand/organization’s begins with appropriation of Indigenous culture but then shifts to working to honor their namesake, does it make their history acceptable? Will this hold up or will societal standards evolve past this reasoning?

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