Why I Won’t Use The Word “Tribe”

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Ok, so you all know that I pray at the Church of Rachel Hollis. That woman is my aspiration. If You know me, you will have heard about her phenomenal book Girl, Wash Your Face. I sincerely feel that that book was the wake up call that I did not even know that I needed. I love it, I love the message, and I love the community that I have discovered in my knowing her.

White Heteronormative Women with “Tribal” hair

But I will not use her word for we band of merry few. I will not say that I am a member of the Chic “Tribe”. I will be a Chic Devotee, a Chic Sister, a Chic Follower, a Chic Fan, but I cannot be a Chic Tribesperson.

Why, you ask? When the word Tribe is a current term in our lexicon for a group of mostly twenty and thirty-something white, heteronormative women? Why won’t I appropriate that to refer to myself and my friends? Because of that little word right there – the 4th one into the sentence? Yeah, that one – appropriate. The word Tribe is being tossed around like it is no big deal, it’s just a word; but this is not true. A Tribe is, by definition, a group of families or people with shared ideals and interests. That indicates a lack of cultural appropriation, correct? A clan is a Tribe. A group of cheerful, hustling women should also be a Tribe, right?

Not in my mind. To me, and to many others, a Tribe is a traditional group or gathered group of First Nations belonging to the same clan, region or traditional land. In many cases, the Instagram Tribes are exclusive of the peoples for whom the word Tribe bears significance. I fully appreciate that there is no ill will intended with the cliquey, floppy hatted, distressed denim wearing influencers who refer to their following as a Tribe, just as I am sure that most people who use terms like “outta your cotton-picking mind” or “gypped” do not realize the innate offensiveness of these words. That, however, does not allow space for those of us who do know to carry on in this manner. If you know better, you are obligated to do better.

As a woman of aboriginal heritage, who presents as a heteronormative white woman, it is incumbent upon me to make these missteps known. I do not say this to attack anyone who has used the term, as I have been guilty of such word crimes myself in the past, and I am sure to slip up again. But not on this topic. Not when I have the option to use so many appropriate words that do not appropriate their meaning from peoples who have been effectively colonized into nonexistence by the ancestors of these Instagram influencers.

So welcome to my village, my community, my group, my inner circle, my fam jam, but not my Tribe. Never my Tribe.

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#tribe #firstnations #aboriginal #instagram #influencers

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