Plenty of "Indians" and Equal Opportunity Racism: Bay to Breakers 2010

May 18, 2010 — 11 Comments

Bay to Breakers is an annual San Francisco Bay Area tradition, now in its 99th year. Technically it’s a 12k race, starting downtown (the bay) and ending at the beach (the breakers). I don’t know the exact history, or how it has (d)evolved through the years, but I can tell you it is now one part serious road race, and about 100 parts drunken costumed debauchery.

Early sunday morning I positioned myself on the side of the road, ready to capture what I figured would be a few rouge headdresses. I quickly spotted one, then another, and another…and before I knew it, I had to stop because there were just too many and it was getting redundant. My album on my computer has 53 pictures, and that was in about the course of an hour and a half. yikes.

Below, a few of the many “Indians” to grace B2B:

These guys were the worst offenders of the day.  They were in a group of about 10, all dressed up and painted, and were running in circles around the racers waiting for the port-a-potties, war-whooping and waving their tomahawks.

Cowboys and Indians.  Creative.

Ok, a few more points for creativity. A headdress and…batman?

Me (as these guys walked by a few inches from me): “Hey, can I take your picture?!”
Them: “Yaaaaaah! Why?”
Me: “For my blog, is that ok?”
Them: “Aweeesommme.”

This dude: “Hey, you were taking my picture!”
Me: “yeah, is that ok? I wanted to get a picture of you and your friends in headdresses for my blog.”
Dude: “you’re wearing a snuggie! Can I snuggie in your snuggie?!”
Me (wearing a leopard print snuggie at the time): “um, ok?”
Dude (as rubbing his face on the sleeve of my snuggie): “so soft.”

She and her friends were a bit more caveman-esq, with bones in their hair and such. No less offensive.

Neon paint war paint and Rayban wayfarers. hipster at its best.

Fringe and a 40. Definitely honoring Native culture, right?

So, a mere sampling of the hundreds of “Indians” to grace B2B. They ranged from just a headdress to full-on buckskin and floor length warbonnets, and were everywhere. This image even made it to the SF Gate web coverage of the event:

Before anyone gets on my case for posting these photos, a few disclaimers:

1) As you can see from the dialogues below the pictures, anyone who made eye contact I asked permission to take their picture “for my blog.” No one cared. Most of them probably don’t remember talking to me anyway. Also, it was a public event, with news/media cameras everywhere. People knew they were being photographed. (I hate that I even have to include this, but you know)

2) Indian costumes were by no means the only form of racist costumes. There were plenty of “Mexicans” in sombreros and mustaches, “Asians” with kimonos and stereotypical rice paddy hats, even some “Tibetan monks” (I have a picture of those):

 All equally racist, all equally offensive. But considering my blog is on Natives, I thought I would focus on the Indian appropriations. But I did want to point out that the images of Natives are the not only instances of this behavior at the event.

In fact, next year I plan to print up about 5000 of these stickers and running around putting them on everyone dressed as any of the aforementioned costumes:

Good idea? or GREAT idea?

Still want to know why wearing a headdress is wrong?: But Why Can’t I Wear a Hipster Headdress?

and earlier, showing it’s not just exclusive to B2B:

The Hipster Headdress Abounds at Coachella: http://nativeappropriations.blogspot.com/2010/04/hipster-headdress-abounds-at-coachella.html

(Thanks to Bill for sending over the sf gate pic, and to Q, Freeman, EJ, and Katie for putting up with me playing “spot the Indian” all morning, and Annie for the idea!)

Adrienne K.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01223693487957825013 girl mark

    If this headdress stuff is new (I’ve been out in the sticks and have missed it), I fear for what I’ll see as costumes at Burning Man this year. I think your stickers are a great idea.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01223693487957825013 girl mark

    Sorry- I mean ‘hipster headdress’, which sounds like it’s bleeding over into costumery more than in the past (?)- I know that it’s been forever offensive at Halloween etc.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03644611870444955249 Chocolate and Cognac

    What an odd trend o.O; The racist stickers are great

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02709883498078367644 Stephen

    And to think how many of these people would also consider themselves educated, tolerant, “people of the world”…

    I suggest instead of racist stickers you get ones that say, “I wish I were a minority”

    It’ll get ‘em thinking more.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02709883498078367644 Stephen

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18204072198354049561 carolyn

    WHhhhyyyy! I will probably do a related post on this. That last picture is interesting.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09763121000933582385 pongu

    @carolyn, I posted about the last picture on my blog, Overlooking Tibet. If you have more to write about it, would you be interested in cross-posting as a guest post on OT?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03032860597310574408 billybob

    oh really! quit your bitchin…imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

  • http://caviling.livejournal.com/ caviling

    The sticker is a very, very good idea.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10071915180423432468 julia aka garconniere

    if you print out some of those stickers, send some my way! :)

    what douchebaggery.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13843045223561939428 BEARwitness

    Your stickers look awesome! I want some….no, I need some for every day use. This hipster shit is driving me nuts.