Keynote Speaker Rev. Dr. William Barber II face emanates neon purple rays against a background of dark blue with dark teal concentric pentagonal shapes that subtly meet one another to create a cohesive pattern as they radiate out in to space. Race Forward Presents Facing Race: A National Conference.

Noted scholar and activist Andrea Smith, responding to recent controversy that she has been falsely claiming Cherokee ancestry while fighting for Native causes, responded publicly for the first time yesterday. In a statement on her blog aimed at “the academic and social justice organizing communities which I have been part of for many years, and to whom I am indebted,”Smith denies allegations of ethnic fraud and speculated over what potential damage the allegations may have caused: 

I have always been, and will always be Cherokee.  I have consistently identified myself based on what I knew to be true.  My enrollment status does not impact my Cherokee identity or my continued commitment to organizing for justice for Native communities.

There have been innumerable false statements made about me in the media. But ultimately what is most concerning is that these social media attacks send a chilling message to all Native peoples who are not enrolled, or who are otherwise marginalized, that they should not publicly work for justice for Native peoples out of fear that they too may one day be attacked.  It is my hope that more Indigenous peoples will answer the call to work for social justice without fear of being subjected to violent identity-policing.

Click here to read the full statement.