In the wake of the recent financial scandals, most of which have turned out not to be scandals at all, but just the big banks doing business as usual, Elizabeth Warren has stood out as often the only political advocate for the average consumer. In fact, her uncompromising stand has cost her an appointment in the Obama administration, but it has also burnished her reputation for integrity. Sadly, that image has now been tainted by the discovery that she has no Cherokee or Native American blood in her lineage, as she had once claimed.
I hope people understand this is not a big deal. First of all, this happened to me. I have a somewhat famous last name, and many of my relatives told me we were related to an historical figure, now dead. Said relatives had even formed a relationship with this person while he was alive, on this foundation. After the famous man’s death, however, someone undertook to write his biography, and include a family tree. If he and I are related, I can find no evidence from this tree. Still, like Warren’s relatives, mine still insist there is a genealogical connection.
My first thought, however, was that Warren was also hopeful that adding a little racial minority into the mix would help her candidacy. Perhaps this was at play, if only sub-consciously. The last presidential election proved that in this country, we are still more sexist than we are racist, yet as I’ve complained before, women are not often thought of as a minority that needs assistance. For example, I recently applied to a writer’s fellowship for minorities. Even before I turned my application in, people were telling me I didn’t count as a minority because I am a white woman. In Hollywood, female screenwriters represent less than 13% of the pool. A recent study of female and minority directors put them in a dead heat at 11%. So why is it the perception that white women are doing just fine? Or has affirmative action been a way to sideline women in general? Sadly, the figures on minority women directors are at around 1%.
One of the problems is the biology and the fact that women must take at least some time off from work if they want children. Maybe we need affirmative action to help moms re-enter the workplace. But that wouldn’t solve the problem 100%. We’ve still got a long way to go, baby.