Native peoples are not positioned as those who can engage in self-reflection; they can only judge the worth of the confession. Consequently, the presenters of these narratives often present very nervously. Did they speak to all their privileges? Did they properly confess? Or will someone in the audience notice a mistake and question whether they have in fact become a fully-developed anti-racist subject? In that case, the subject would have to then engage in further acts of self-reflection that require new confessions in the future.
Thus, borrowing from the work of Scott Morgensen and Hiram Perez, the confession of privilege, while claiming to be anti-racist and anti-colonial, is actually a strategy that helps constitute the settler/white subject. In Morgensen’s analysis, the settler subject constitutes itself through incorporation. Through this logic of settlement, settlers become the rightful inheritors of all that was indigenous – land, resources, indigenous spirituality, or culture. Thus, indigeneity is not necessarily framed as antagonistic to the settler subject; rather the Native is supposed to disappear into the project of settlement. The settler becomes the “new and improved” version of the Native, thus legitimizing and naturalizing the settler’s claims to this land.