๐ŸŒฑ Identity & Privilege through Indigenous Queer Wisdom

Part II: Indigenous Queer History & Resilience

Sam Chavez
Sam Chavez

Table of Contents

Welcome Back! ๐Ÿ‘‹๐Ÿผ

I was going to write about the history of colonial destruction of queer traditions and ancestors. Instead, it's about identity, liberation, and what is lost when white supremacy takes over. Today is a window into the inner work we can all do to unpack our relationship to those three things and how Indigenous queer wisdom can be our map. Read on for more...

In Case You Missed It: Reawakening to Indigenous Queer Wisdom

What You Can Expect
๐Ÿณ๏ธโ€โšง๏ธ Conquest by Gendercide
๐Ÿœ Beauty & the Grief
๐ŸŒฑ News with a Social Change Lens
๐ŸŒบ What makes a good political ad?
๐Ÿ’ฐ AIPACโ€™s Progressive Attack Ads

Brush Up on Inclusive Language Before Disability Pride Month! Join me and Brit Holmes today at 9:30am PST/12:30am EST for our monthly 30-minute lunch and learn for social change communicators.

I am going to be honest, I could not for the life of me write this week's article! I have notes and research and knew exactly what I wanted to say, but when I came down to write, I couldn't. I stopped to reflect on why.

What was I going to write about today? How colonial powers intentionally used gender and sexuality as weapons to divide native communities and eradicate the cultural knowledge and Indigenous people from the land that is currently known as United States of America.

So a very light topic, but it goes beyond that. It's about identity, liberation, and what is lost when white supremacy takes over. I offer my experience as a window into the inner work we can all do to unpack our relationship to those three things and how Indigenous queer wisdom can be our map.

Revisiting Ancestral Wisdom

If youโ€™ve ever been to New Mexico, you know that a place can be its own spirit. The indigenous culture of the Pueblo people is so deeply embedded into the state that a Zia symbol was adopted as the state flag. The indigenous culture and spirituality is deeply rooted into the New Mexican culture whether you are indigenous or not. It is the place where you can add green chile to anything! And your doctors office is probably in a peachy-colored adobe building. To this day, the spirit of the land sings loud. Itโ€™s called the Land of Enchantment for a reason.

A Santa Fe, New Mexico summer night sky (2020)
A Santa Fe, New Mexico summer night sky (2020)

Spirit and place are a lifeline for people. We are seeing that play out with the Palestinian people today. It is especially felt in places that have held onto ancestral wisdom and spiritual practices.

Which is why it feels so insidious to learn more deeply about the history of colonial powers using gender expansion and sexual freedom as weapons against native people to colonize their lands for profit and power. Gendercide is the deliberate effort to destroy traditions of gender fluidity. Colonial powers understood the spiritual and community needs that gender expansive folks, who are today referred to as Two Spirit, played in their societies and they exploited that. Reading "Reclaiming Two-Spirits: Sexuality, Spiritual Renewal & Sovereignty in Native America" is one of those books that has hit me deeply. It is brutiful in that there is an awakening to the expansiveness of indigenous understandings of gender, while also deep grief about what has been lost because of colonial destruction.

I don't want to dive into the past this week and I'm trusting my instincts. Instead, I want to offer two pieces of thoughtful inspiration that have touched me more deeply this week as Iโ€™ve delved into the history of the repressive colonial tactics that still ring true today when we continue to see attacks against trans and non-binary people. Itโ€™s only when we face our past that we can really address the systemic rot of gendercide that continues to this day and is holding us back from healthy societies that meet the needs of all.

Beauty & the Grief

Two of my favorite people collaborated on a piece about identity, ethnicity, and privilege. It's called There is Only Us. Written by Naomi Raquel Enright and published by Sharon Hurley Hall in Sharon's Anti-Racism Newsletter.

While I did not grow up in New Mexico, my ancestors did. Long before they were ever considered U.S. citizens and well before it was a territory (which was a 58 years gap because of racism). Itโ€™s a weird feeling to have white skin while being Latine. On the surface, I appear white and feminine. My queerness, Latine, and other identities are obscured from public view. Not because of me, but because of how I am perceived by others.

from my 2015 solo photo shoot by the Rio Grande near Albuquerque, NM

Naomi knows this all too well (๐ŸŽถ) as she raises her son who to the world is white. She tells countless stories of being mistaken for her sonโ€™s nanny while walking in Brooklyn. Take a second to imagine the comments she gets on a daily basis simply because her son has all of her features, except her skin color.

โ€œWhere does my son fit into the notion that you are either white or you are not? Where does my family fit into this binary? The fact is that we do not fit into it - and we are not alone.โ€

As a person who grew up in a very white society in Dallas, TX, I have been more disconnected from my Latine culture. For many folks in movement work, that can be challenging to sit with. My privilege is real and I am more than just my privilege. I have to be if I want to do the work of social change. I recognize my privilege, use it in support of the movement, and manage my ego as my work is about far more than just me. What I appreciate about Naomi's work is that she is not afraid to challenge binary thinking in activist spaces.

โ€œMany people, including fellow antiracist educators, reject my work, wrongly assuming that I am advocating for colorblindness and kindness as measures to dismantle racist inequity. That could not be further from the truth. Neither colorblindness nor kindness will dismantle racism, but neither color-consciousness nor a binary ideology will dismantle it either. To me it is very clear that much of the methodology to dismantle racist inequity in truth only corroborates it.โ€

Just like gender, we need to think beyond the binary when it comes to identity. This is especially true in movement building. Solidarity will not come if identity mixed with ego are at play.

Macklemore & White Responsibility

Finally, I will leave you with this powerful episode from the Land Back podcast featuring the rapper Macklemore. He talks about his privilege as a white person and what he feels compelled to do with that privilege.

If you just think if Macklemore as a rapper, take a listen. He has really done his inner work, with the help of his daughter, to remove ego and become โ€œa vesselโ€ for the change. He recognizes his privilege as a white person and uses it. Heโ€™s also deeply respectful of the Land Back movement and host, Nick Tilsen of the Lakota people. This episode is a great primer for anyone who wants to understand an indigenous way of organizing and how the movement plans to continue to advocate for the land. (Listen on Spotify)

Note: We respectfully acknowledge that the Roots of Change Agency lives and grows on the unceded lands of the Ramaytush Ohlone people. We donate a portion of our monthly revenue to support the present-day effort to rematriate the land. Learn more and how to donate on our website.

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Getting to the roots - evaluating the news with a social change lens
  • ๐Ÿ“š Is Oral Insulin Coming? - Finally, some good global news. Researchers at the University of British Columbia have developed oral insulin drops. These drops can be placed under the tongue and absorbed in the body compared to multiple injections daily.
    • ๐Ÿค“ The Root ๐ŸŒฑ - This needle-free option could be revolutionary for children and other patients who are needle-averse and it could reduce the risk of infection. Now we just need to price cap it!
  • ๐Ÿ“š Texas GOP Endorse Death Penalty for Women - The Supreme Court in Texas ruled against 20 women who sued after the stateโ€™s abortion ban put their health and lives at risk. And their ruling was a fantasy. โ€œTexas law permits a life-saving abortion,โ€ the opinion states.
    • ๐Ÿค“ The Root ๐ŸŒฑ - This is beyond alarming, but the Overton window has moved so much that the media or lawmakers havenโ€™t made a big deal about this. This is a crisis for all women, trans, and queer folks. Jessica Valenti reports on a massive drop in OBGYNs. Abortion is not just about abortion and itโ€™s on the ballot in November.
  • ๐Ÿ“ธ How Hyper Misogony Is Fueling Climate Denial - In this IG carousel, Atmos asks, are โ€œmanosphereโ€ influencers disengaging Gen-Z men from climate activism? As weโ€™ve seen the Andrew Tates, Joe Rogans, and Harrison Butkers of the world gain a loyal following of men, we are also seeing a right-wing effort to advance hyper-masculine values and bring back to a repressive patriarchal society.
    • ๐Ÿค“ The Root ๐ŸŒฑ - Climate denialism locks hands with misogny because of WSCP. Climate action is coded as feminine because it has to do with care and stewardship of the land. These influencers all want us to return to patriarchal ways including profit and extraction at all costs. This is why the climate crisis struggle is one of solidarity. We have to defeat them all to move through the climate crisis.
  • ๐Ÿ“’ Social Media Care & Resilience Pocket Zine - I got nerdy and had a little fun creating a printable zine! Download our printable pocket zine to keep with you whenever you need a reminder or reset from social media.
    • ๐Ÿค“ The Root ๐ŸŒฑ - We need systemic change and regulations to push back against the harms of social media. In the meantime, this guide will help you care for yourself and your community, while you are speaking up for social change online.
getting to the roots - navigating tech, media, and communications

What makes a good political ad?

As we inch closer to the election, I'm always on the lookout for standout video ads from campaigns. I've covered AOC before, but that's mainly because her and her team are doing great work and understands how to message to everyday people. Her latest campaign ad is a textbook example of clear communication as Anat Shenkar Osario's team has expressed in their many amazing and tested messaging guides. What I appreciate most about AOC's "One Vote" ad is that it's not about her at all. It's about the voter.

  1. Inspire Defiance - Itโ€™s about empowering the audience, not about the candidate. The candidate is the vehicle who can build the momentum to achieve the vision.
  2. Inspire & Disrupt Despair - Don't just make it about the past, share the vision for the future. Be honest, while crafting a clear vision and story for a progressive future.
  3. Draw the Contrast - name the root causes of issues and how we can [see #1]. And repeat.

let's grow together - reflections, ideas, and curiosities of the week

AIPAC is ramping up its spending against progressive candidates this round and guess where their money is coming from! We covered this back in January. Here's some tips and how I call congress everyday. Find our latest social posts on our ๐ŸŽฌ Quick Bites page.


AIPAC, Pro-Israel PAC, has spent $8 million attacking progressive, Jamaal Bowman. And thatโ€™s just the beginning. What should voters do?

โ™ฌ original sound - Sam @ Roots of Change - Sam @ Roots of Change

And that's a wrap on this weekโ€™s newsletter! We hope you found this helpful in your work. Forward this to a friend and help democratize communications! If you have any topics you want covered or have any questions, please reach out and let me know.

In Solidarity,
Sam Chavez
Roots of Change Founder

Donate to Support Our Work โ€” Our work is 100% reader-supported and not funded by grants, organizations, or investors. Paying subscribers are greatly appreciated and help fund our efforts so we can release more content for the whole community!
๐Ÿณ๏ธโ€๐ŸŒˆ Queering Life๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘งโ€๐Ÿ‘ฆ for activists & heart-first humans ๐ŸŒฑ๐Ÿ—ผ๐Ÿ—ž: Newsletterโค๏ธโ€๐Ÿ”ฅ Our Inner Growth๐Ÿ‘‘ Defeating White Supremacy

Sam Chavez

Sam is a writer, strategist, and curious human. She founded the roots of change agency in 2020. Sam is a queer, white, LatinX activist whoโ€™s passionate about a livable planet & equitable societies.


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