Following from the last writing I shared here, the weeks since have been difficult for many people I care about, as well as for people I don’t know personally. The possibility of making restitution towards these circumstances begins with acknowledging the effects of my actions on other people. By recognizing some of those impacts here, this text is an initial step invested in taking responsibility, in building relationships of accountability and in moving towards the possibility of repair.
As someone who was raised believing I had mixed settler and Indigenous ancestry, I was recently called to investigate my identity in more detail and discovered that the family history that I was raised with does not match up with historical records. In response, I changed my self-identification to settler.
Growing up, I didn’t question who I was told I was. And yet, as an adult, I should have been more curious about my bloodlines, my ancestors—especially given that my self-identification allowed me to access resources and opportunities I would not have otherwise been offered. By neglecting to investigate this family history sooner or to consult Indigenous community and kinship networks about my family’s status, I have broken trust with peers, friends and collaborators. These repercussions extend beyond my personal relationships and outward into communities, causing feelings of hurt and anger. For this, I am deeply sorry.
My failure to understand the importance of substantiating what I believed my identity to be raises questions about my complicity with the structures of settler colonialism and white supremacy culture—urgent questions that I am committed to addressing both privately and publicly.
In working to take responsibility, these are some initial actions I’ve begun working on and am committed to:
- Pursuing dialogue and accountability with Indigenous people I have collaborated with;
- Making amends for the grant monies I received that were directed to Indigenous curators by contacting the arts councils about the possibility of repayment and, failing that, making equivalent donations, over time, to Indigenous-led organizations that support Indigenous futurity;
- Seeking the professional advice of a transformative justice facilitator in making plans for further accountability and meaningful restitution.
Through these actions, I am working to understand the implications of my changed self-identification. I am hoping to build a framework of accountability that is articulated through relationships and that is committed to transformative forms of justice, while also recognizing that not all harms can be repaired.
This is the beginning of a long-term process and I know there is more to be done than what is mentioned here. As these processes move forward, I will continue to share publicly in this space.