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Precursor to Genocide

I've only had a racist remark directed at me once, and it was very mild as far as racism goes. I was in college and my roommate wanted to show me what he had learned in his art class about skin tone. He held his arm next to mine and said, "Look, my arm has a healthy pink tone, but yours has an ugly brown tone."

I am Cherokee. My great-grandparents—my maternal grandfather's parents—were forced in the early 1900s to register with the Dawes Commission, a U.S. federal agency created to take tribally-owned lands and distribute them among individuals. Senator Dawes was concerned the Cherokee and other "civilized tribes" were not assimilating thoroughly enough into mainstream American culture. As a result of registering, they were given small plots of land in eastern Oklahoma. They were in Oklahoma in the first place because their great-grandparents had been forced to leave their homes in the Southeastern United States and walk nearly a thousand miles to a barren land designated for them by President Andrew Jackson. My ancestors survived, but many did not.

Jackson had been elected in large part because he promised to solve the nation's "Indian problem". And that's why I'm nervous about President-elect Donald Trump's scapegoating of Latinos, Muslims and other minority groups. Inflammatory campaign rhetoric that has already provoked scattered threats and acts of violence against minorities could easily devolve into official policy targeting minority groups, and then to genocide. It has happened before.

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