Elizabeth Warren & Identity Envy

I feel for Elizabeth Warren. I really do. My family has talked glibly of our Native American ancestry, even pointing to a great-grandmother named Hannah as being “half-Cherokee.” We don’t have any genealogical evidence to back this up–well, at least I don’t. My own grandmother went through the lengthy task of documenting as much as she could of our family tree when she was alive, but I was never able to really make much sense of her notes. A cousin even once suggested that I take advantage of an Indian scholarship fund, which I could qualify for as long as I could prove I was 1/16th Indian, any tribe would do. I didn’t take advantage of that program.

And that’s one of the differences that doesn’t make me feel too bad for her. I could have strung together my grandmother’s notes into enough evidence for the scholarship, but even then I would have used it to fund my community college education. I didn’t chose to do so for the same reasons I never asked a man to pay my bills, even though plenty of people, including some of my dates, encouraged me to. It didn’t feel right. I assumed I lived in a honest world (gawd, I was so naive) and that playing by the rules would get me somewhere. I was earnest enough to believe that gaming the system would hurt people such scholarships were actually intended for. I’m still that earnest. 😀

If Elizabeth Warren had claimed her heritage and not profited from it, she would not be in the situation she is today. Identity envy is common. We see it every day in the white kids with their rap gear and black women with dyed blond hair, and among white women who seek exotic lips and tans, and the list goes on. It’s even standard operating procedure when trying to gain entry into some of the best colleges and jobs in the country, according to some. That the elite have figured out how to game the system should not surprise anyone. It’s what the elite do from time immemorial. Inherited advantage is part of the systems of privilege that exist in every culture. What is unusual is that the elite are not often put in a position where their behavior is noted and analyzed; they much prefer to be the ones analyzing those above them, but especially those below them.

We should, I suppose, thank Elizabeth Warren for bringing this travesty (the most appropriate word for this form of identity envy, especially in light of this) to our attentions. Now we can do something about it. Those slots in the best schools and at the best companies are reserved for those who really need access to them. While Elizabeth Warren’s personal narrative is touching due to her father’s health problems, let’s not kid ourselves about her privilege.

She did attend the best public high school in Oklahoma at the time, and she and her family lived in the upscale neighborhood surrounding the school. They purchased their homes. She had a ton of privilege that people like me, and people even worse than I have ever been, have never had access to. She has spent her life wrapped in the cozy confines of privileged academia. I don’t begrudge her that experience, but I also don’t think she needs special protection from problems of her own making. And I do think this form of gaming the system needs to be investigated and stopped; otherwise, it’s meaningless to even pursue diversity through affirmative action.

I am usually on board with any woman running for office. And if I lived in Massachusetts, I would still vote for Elizabeth Warren because this incident does not bear on how she would govern, other than to suggest she buys into the bogus and distorting worldview evident in most of American academia at this time. That makes her no better or worse than any person who could capture a Massachusetts senate seat. It would still result in more women in power and I’m fine with that. But the flack she’s getting over this, she earned. It hasn’t been sexist until recently, when some pundits started using buzzwords like “Fauxcahontos” and “Sacage-whiner” to name-call her. That’s sexist, both to the memories of those two historical women, and to the flesh and blood one looking to be the first woman Senator from Massachusetts.

About Woke Lola

Bitch, please.
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23 Responses to Elizabeth Warren & Identity Envy

  1. now there is a balanced analysis. Thanks Lola!!!!

    • Thank YOU, Cynthia! Glad to see your’s as the first comment on this thread!

    • I couldn’t agree more with you Cynthia. And Lola, it is because of our naivete (or should I say integrity) that stopped you and I from pursuing benefits that while technically we were eligible for (I have no ties to a reservation although I’m 1/8th), our consciences would not allow us to go for. I actually bought into and still buy into the need for help by identity. But then again, I’ve seen too many people get it who were either rich, or got it for college to augment their party budget.

      • I also still buy into the need for help for traditionally oppressed people and those afflicted by the imposition of poverty especially. It really chaps my hide to see someone game that system, because it is tantamount to robbing someone of their potential for wealth. It reverse-Robin-Hooding. But how do we fix it so it can’t be gamed?

        • elliesmom says:

          I think it’s time to recognize that the deck is stacked against children born into poverty regardless of the color of their skin or their genetic makeup. If we base need for help by the famiy’s income and wealth (or lack thereof) instead, the Obama girls will not be eligible for preferential treatment, but minority children living in poverty will still be. As will all children who really need a leg up. A lot of the antipathy toward affirmative action will be tempered as well, perhaps making people willing to go an extra mile or two.

        • votermom says:

          I am all for income-based diversity in universities.

  2. myiq2xu says:

    I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

    Not yet.

  3. HELENK says:

    amid all the jokes about this, nobody talks about the person who would have a place a Harvard and gotten an ivy league education if she had not improvised on her application.

    She turned me off when she talked about how the owies had learned from her. So i guess she has a “it is all about me, screw anybody else mentality”. Why should anyone trust or vote for her???

    • From my point of view, she has problems with her political affiliation, but so does Michele Bachmann, and I would have voted for her. It doesn’t really matter to me that a candidate match my every belief. I vote for women for the single-minded purpose of increasing more women in positions of power because I believe it is the best, fastest way to level the playing field and secure greater women’s rights.

      • HELENK says:

        I agree with the vote for a woman , but not just because she is a woman.
        I was thrilled when nancy pelosi was named speaker of the house,but look at the damage she did. I will most likely never see a woman speaker again in my lifetime.
        Woman should be held accountable for their actions just as men should be.
        Yes a woman can bring a different point of view to level the playing field, and I hope that every woman I vote for does this, but I want her point of view to represent the country at its best.

        • We’ll have to agree to disagree. Right now the field is so disadvantaged by the lack of women that I don’t have a problem voting for women just because they are women. I’ll worry about character after we pull even. And Nancy Pelosi did not do that damage on her own.

  4. DeniseVB says:

    Great post ! And yes, there’s a boatload of free money for education for overachieving/poor kids. Back in the 60’s I knew I could get a free ride base on my 1/2 Italian heritage. Unfortunately, I was a high school underachiever/from an upper middle class family. So I won no scholarships.

    Ms. Warren did nothing wrong, now if we can only open the truthiness of Obama’s college records 😀

  5. Underwhelmed says:

    I always enjoy your thoughts, Lola, but I have to take exception to your stance on any woman, no matter what. It’s that approach that gave the world Obama. It didn’t matter about his qualifications, his background, his tactics … the only thing that mattered was his skin color. Look what we’re reaping as a result. Gender must be irrelevant. Support people like Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin because they have what it takes to do the job. Don’t support them because they have ovaries, and don’t fear to oppose them if they are not qualified for the job. Seek out women candidates who are brilliant because they’re brilliant. Don’t excuse what’s damaging. Don’t ignore it. Demand the best, and don’t settle. Then when we have to fight against the entrenched misogyny, we’re fighting on a firm foundation.

    • Appreciate your thoughts, Underwhelmed. Do note that in this very article I refuse to excuse what is damning of Warren. But it wouldn’t change my vote.

    • I have to side with Lola on this one Underwhelmed. When women run virtually nothing in this country in both the public and private sectors, how will we ever increase their numbers? The main reason that women aren’t running things is a deeply entrenched misogyny that was on full display in 2008 for all to see. The idea is that once people become accustomed to seeing more women at the top, that misogyny will diminish. If the standard is to only select the perfect ones, women will never rise and we will be stalled where we are now with being ranked 78th in the world in female representation in government, making 77 cents on the man’s dollar, having only 2.8% of the Fortune 1000 companies being run by women, 12% of the governorships being women, 24% of the state legislators being women, never a woman president, never a woman vice president, and so on and so on.

      We somehow manage to keep electing and selecting incompetent men to all manners of positions and yet women are never qualified enough no matter what their credentials because we subliminally think women are less. There’s no way around that one, it’s just a fact. Whatever is going on with the civil rights of African Americans is irrelevant to the plight of women’s parity in American. The advancement of women must be considered on its own merits. I have to agree with you totally about our current president. However, more than his skin color, his maleness also gave him a complete pass on many things that Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin were pounded on.

      I always like to say that what’s wrong with electing women we disagree with? We certainly have elected zillions of men we disagree with!! Why does even our opposition have to be all male?

  6. Underwhelmed says:

    Yeah. I guess that’s what I don’t get. If you put gender before character, how does that help us in the long run?

  7. Silence Dogood says:

    I am with underwhelmed. You talk about how she was deceptive and manipulated the system for a cynical advantage… and then say you would vote for her anyway? Sorry, but I certainly hope the women of Massachusetts have better sense. We have enough horrible “do as a I say, not as I do” liberals up here, we certainly don’t need another. And doesn’t this say something of how she’ll behave in the Senate? Dishonestly and hypocritally like the rest of ’em? Also, as an aside, how is calling her “Fauxcohantus, etc;” sexist? It says nothing about the original historical woman, any more that calling her “sitting bull****” or “dances with occupiers” does…

    • Yes, it does say something about how she would act in the Senate. But have you seen the Senate? Filled with crooks and liars. Shouldn’t at least half of them be women? Because to suggest otherwise is to hold women to a higher standard and there’s a word for that: sexism.

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