Teen Vogue tells us of the deprivations faced by Native Americans living on reservations without mentioning that this is a problem common to all who live in remote and rural areas. The specific issue here is the lack of decent grocery stores. This is true, even obvious. That communities of perhaps 9,000 people spread out over thousands and tens of thousands of acres don’t have access to a well-stocked Sam’s Club, Costco and Whole Foods. That they might have to drive an hour and a half to find just those outposts of the capitalist food delivery system.
The problem here is the reason given which is full of implications of oppression, of differential treatment and even “…very ingrained institutional concepts of colonization and capitalism that are really hard to move away from.” This is the point at which Thomas Sowell’s question of “Compared to what?” needs to be asked.
There are entirely white communities up in the Dakotas who are that thousands spread across vast areas of land and are similarly underserved with rotisserie chicken. Articles about Appalachia have been known to concentrate upon the problems when even the Walmart closes because it’s then so far to get the groceries.
This is not to say that Native Americans have always been well treated – far from it. However, this insistence that this circumstance is specific to Native Americans is untrue. It’s true of any lightly populated rural area anywhere in the country. To ascribe it, even if only implying it, as being something specific to racism or colonialism is to mislead the readers about the realities of the world around them.
Teen Vogue is in the top 500 of media and news sites, it gains some 5 million visits a month. It also declares itself to be informing the influencers of tomorrow. Their largely young – teenage – readers deserve better than this.
There are problems to do with the treatment of Native Americans, there are difficulties with living a wild and rural life. Implying that those usual problems of the boonies are specific to the racist or colonial treatment of Native Americans does those readers a disservice.