Monday, April 1, 2013

The Tragedy of Stereotyping

   I get challenged occasionally for the view, expressed in my book Smoke Signals: The Native Takeback of North America’s Tobacco Industry, that society continues to stereotype Native people. My defence is that although outright racism is not much seen anymore among intelligent people, stereotyping is still around, subtle but rampant.
   How stereotyping hurts is powerfully put forth in the novel Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese. It’s fiction, but remember the words of journalist-author Albert Camus: “Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.”
   Indian Horse paints the tragedy of an Ojibway boy whose love for the game of hockey is destroyed by stereotyping. The type of stereotyping we’ve all witnessed in hockey arenas and elsewhere.
   It is a beautifully crafted and brilliantly written novel by Wagamese, an Ojibway from Northwestern Ontario who became a noted columnist for the Calgary Herald.
   Indian Horse is fiction that reveals truth and flows with important life messages.
   However, you don’t have to read Wagamese’s books to view the power of his writing and its messages. The opening lines of his web page these:
   “All that we are is story. From the moment we are born to the time we continue on our spirit journey, we are involved in the creation of the story of our time here. It is what we arrive with. It is all we leave behind. We are not the things we accumulate. We are not the things we deem important. We are story.”
   I wish I could have written that. 

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