When White Entitlement Grants Minority Access

Keka Araújo
5 min readFeb 11, 2019

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According to the Washington Post, Sen. Elizabeth Warren listed herself as an American Indian on her Texas Bar registration card in 1986. If that’s not white entitlement, what is?

It has been revealed that Warren does have Native American ancestry. Her great-great-great-grandmother, O.C. Sarah Smith is said to have either been full Native American or half and that would mean she does have some indigenous DNA. However, the amount of Native American ancestry would be relatively minute in the grand scheme of Warren actually being able to identify herself as an “American Indian.”

Warren doesn’t have enough Native American blood to even qualify to join the varying Native Americans nations states a report from The National Academic Press.

Herein lies the issue. Many people from the United States have a mixed heritage so the thought of acknowledging a specific part of a person’s DNA isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Warren’s attempt to constantly play up a relatively small part of her Native American ancestry is troubling though, especially to the Cherokee Nation.

“Using a DNA test to lay claim to any connection to the Cherokee Nation or any tribal nation, even vaguely, is inappropriate and wrong,” Chuck Hoskin Jr, the Cherokee Nation Secretary of State, said in a statement.

“It makes a mockery out of DNA tests and its legitimate uses while also dishonoring legitimate tribal governments and their citizens, whose ancestors are well documented and whose heritage is proven.”

With this “Native blood,” Warren hasn’t exactly pushed an agenda in terms of improving the lives of Native Americans yet she, dutifully, claimed that ancestry on her bar card. So why does she continue to do it?

Although, there’s no documentation that her claim has propelled her career in any way. Warren did inform officials at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard of her “Native American heritage” after she began teaching at the universities.

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Keka Araújo

Opinionated, bilingual diasporan activist. Editor-In-Chief at Negra With Tumbao and Senior Editor at MADAMENOIRE. Opinions are mine!.