Every time I see someone describe their community, their subculture or their “kind of people” as their “tribe,” I cringe. Even more so when “tribe” is included in the name of an offering or service.

I have a tribe.

There are about 5,000 of us left and we’ve been subject to hundreds of years of oppression and resource denial, culminating with my grandmother who was forcibly removed from her parents and also forced to learn English and become “civilized” . . . and the trickle-down legacy that has created, three generations down the line from her.

We don’t know the language.

We don’t know much about the customs or the “old ways.”

Just like they wanted.

I have a tribe.

And it has thousands of years of history. Belonging is not a choice. Belonging does not come with a snazzy coffee mug nor will I be able to look back and say “oh that was my _______ phase.”

And every time I see the word “tribe” in someone’s copy I think “oh. They don’t see me. This product/service/person/business is not for me. They’re so culturally isolated they can’t even conceive of the idea that someone like me, an invisible and vulnerable member of society, might be interested in their offering.”

And when you don’t see me? You don’t see the systemic and cultural injustices that keep me invisible and vulnerable. And when you don’t see those injustices you, and your business, are part of the problem.