How racism can be normalized: A Mi’kmaw perspective
LE3 .A278 2011
Powers, Ann Marie
Master of Arts
The Mi‘kmaw First Nation is one of the original Nations inhabiting what is now the Maritime Provinces of Canada. As a Mi'kmaw woman, I am aware of the discrimination, violence, and injustices that have continued throughout the history of my people from the time of European contact. In this thesis I argue that discrimination and injustices are based on racism, which has been normalized over the last several centuries. I focus on the Mi'kmaw perspective on racism and question the process that makes racism seem normal and acceptable in modern society. Drawing on postcolonial theory, I present a narrative of Mi‘kmaw experience with colonialism, focusing on the effects of colonial practice on oral history, spirituality, and the traditional family structure. I argue that racism against the Mi'kmaq has become rooted in routine practices by dominant groups, making the behavior acceptable in our society. My argument is that racism is denied and not always acknowledged; therefore, it is infused and reproduced into everyday lives as something that is acceptable and normal. As a primary research method, I organized and participated in a sharing circle, which followed traditional Mi‘kmaw custom. The process of the circle and the results are described in the thesis. I used autoethnography to facilitate the sharing circle from my own experiences and the life experiences of others to show that racism exists explicitly and implicitly, and uncover how it is reproduced and perpetuated. I find that, if we do not recognize and acknowledge racism, whether it is explicit or implicit, and work to dismantle it, racism and the oppression of First Nations will continue.
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