Most people recognize the word “DNA” from its biological meaning: genetic makeup that dictates physical features like eye color or freckles. In politics, DNA means more – it allows one to say phrases or make claims that other arrangements of DNA don’t.
Recently, Senator Elizabeth Warren released a video proving her claim to be “part” Native American. The topic of her ancestry has been in debate since President Trump’s campaign, during which he began calling the senator “Pocahontas” to mock her ancestral claim and pledged $1 million to charity for genetic proof if she produced evidence of the claim. With the release of her genetic test, there is, without a doubt, proof that Senator Elizabeth Warren is .01% to 1.6% Native American.
What does this mean? It means that Warren can publically claim to be “part” Native American and no one can question it. It also means that President Trump promised to pay a sum of money to charity, which he denies.
The real question is, does it matter? Being “part” Native American does not change my opinion on Warren whatsoever. Being some fraction of a percent Native American certainly does NOT make Warren a person of color whatsoever. Unlike the full blooded Native Americans, past and present, Warren has not experienced any form of discrimination or racism due to her heritage. She has not endured the pain of wearing a label that restricts her to stereotypes. In fact, it appears that Warren is using her claim to this ancestry to further her political agenda and as part of a platform to run in the 2020 presidential election. If she won, would she be considered the first female AND Native American President in U.S. history? Absolutely not.
Warren’s claim to a Native American heritage made me see her as just another privileged, power-hungry politician using minorities as a way to further her own agenda. What is most disgraceful about this whole ordeal is that, with all the press this is receiving, no one seems to be focusing on the injustices currently happening to Native Americans. Just recently, a Texas judge struck down the Indian Child Welfare Act, a law that keeps Native American children with their families under tribal jurisdiction.
As the silent majority continues to rear its privileged head, the rate of hate crimes against minorities in the U.S. has steadily increased. From getting yelled at for speaking a foreign language to the deportation and imprisonment of immigrants, the abuses they endure have become unbearable. Politicians like Warren are just attempting to appear more relatable and likable, using fractions of minority DNA as the key rather than working to better the lives of a group to which they claim to belong.
Frank Peña is a third-year Journalism and Informatics major. He can be reached at email@example.com.