Sherman Alexie: Aren’t We all the Same?

What is Nationality? What is Color? What is Race? Aren’t We all the Same?

Sherman Alexie is a poet, writer, and filmmaker. But, what makes him so popular? Alexie challenged the existing stereotypes of Native Americans in today’s society and wrote about the struggles Native Americans endure through the use of his own experiences. In grade school, students off all ages were forced to see Native Americans in terms of the past. We all once believed that Native Americans just symbolize Thanksgiving and Pilgrims, but then magically disappeared or died. Not once did I ever hear my grade school teachers speak of colonists killing Native Americans.

In a way, society has forced everyone to distinguish one another from their culture and religion, and as a whole we lack an understanding for each other. Alexie’s novels such as the absolutely true diary of a Part-time Indian, and the Lone Ranger and Tonto fistfight in heaven, fills the gap of cultural misunderstandings. His stories and poetry allows us to see that no matter what culture or nationality we are, we’re all human. In U.S history, the lack of understanding each other is shown through the birth of the Ku Klux Klan, the racist skinhead movement, which developed post-World War II, and even government reservations built for Native Americans.

Through the Chicago Humanities Festival, I got to understand Sherman Alexie’s perspective on history and culture. The event revolved around the idea of understanding Native Americans and life on the reservation. I finally understand that as humans, we try to distinguish ourselves from one another through color, culture, and religion. We use what happened in the past such as 9/11, Wounded Knee, racism and their crimes, to create distinctions and hatred between one another. The problem is we all came from one place. If we go back in history, past the 60s, past slavery, to when human life began, we weren’t born into these nationalities or cultures. We were brothers and sisters, until nature and our own beliefs started to change. Sometimes, we use history to separate each other, when we’re all bonded by it.

The question is, is race even real? Alexie taught me something valuable; we all come from one place, so why should we put so much emphasize on color? The distinctions humans create causes only wars, hate, and separation. Race is an excuse. During colonial times, we developed race distinctions to excuse our greediness in forcing innocent Africans and Native American to be our slaves. We used it to excuse ourselves for killing and stealing Native American land. We even used it to excuse ourselves for not being fair with one another, but that was the past. Our society can let go the excuses we made in the past, to see one another, not as black or white, but as one.


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