Cambridge 5K Yulefest Postcards, Really?

December 6, 2011 — 20 Comments

“Yulefest” is a Cambridge, MA tradition of sorts, a Holiday-themed 5k race through the streets of Cambridge, ending at a big tent full of beer. It’s considered to be irreverent, silly, and (from what I’ve heard) an overall good time. “Creative holiday wear” and costumes are encouraged, and everyone has a grand ol’ time. Until now. Cause I’m not having a grand ol’ time after seeing their promotional materials.

Here’s the description from Cambridge 5k (the organizers):

Long before Christmas, there was a quirky winter festival named “Yule” that people really loved. Join us 12/18/11 for a 5K race that takes the holidays back to their old school roots!

Run the race in your most creative “holiday-wear” and you could win a prize at our post-race party (sponsored by Clover Food Lab, Pretty Things, Notch Session & Peak Organic)!

Registration includes a great shirt + admission to our post-race Yulefest Party (21+) featuring great music, craft beers & awesome awards! > You will LOVE this race!

I’m not against fun. In fact, this sounds like a lot of fun. And I would totally participate, if I weren’t an overly-critically-fun-destroying-troll who finds joy in ruining your ignorance defense. I’m talking about the postcard above.

Let’s break it down, shall we?

Two vintage-looking Indian women, waving/saying “how”, wearing stereotypical feather headbands, accompanied by a tipi wrapped around a Christmas tree. Fantastic. I assume they were going for “cute” “clever” maybe even a little “hipster” or “ironic”?  Or maybe it’s a weird reference to the taking the “holidays back to their old school roots” in the description? But, what, I ask you, does the stereotyping of Native people have to do with running, or even the holidays for that matter?

So I tweeted it to the organizers, and here’s how it went down (it’s really not that exciting so don’t anticipate too much, but I included some snarky commentary from my followers too):
 
<a href=”http://storify.com/nativeapprops/cambridge-yulefest-postcard” target=”_blank”>View the story “Cambridge Yulefest Postcard ” on Storify</a>] …and the apology, of sorts. “Didn’t mean to offend anyone. Thanks for the schooling, we agree with you.” They only had 140 characters, so I can’t expect a novel. But admittedly, it was a little anti-climactic.

But did they agree with me enough to go pull the postcards from the various shops around town? or retweet my tweet to their followers? or post something on Facebook? That would probably be asking too much, right? Who knows.

Now, the overly-critically-fun-destroying-troll needs to get back to her end of semester grading. Hooray!

If you’d like to send them a note:

Twitter: @Cambridge5k
Web: http://cambridge5k.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cambridge5K

(Thanks April and Megan!)

Adrienne K.

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  • Jenn @ Leftover Queen

    Wow, this is really beyond stupid. What do Native people have to do with Yule or Christmas? A “quirky winter festival” – yeah, one which was celebrated by many Pagan European tribes before they were brutally and forcibly Christianized and is still celebrated by many of us who celebrate the pathways of our ancestors. So they are offensive on a number of levels…

  • http://twitter.com/siouxstar April Youpee-Roll

    Happy to help the cause! I tweeted at them today to tell them my excitement about the event was dampened (and that I hoped nobody continued the theme with their “creative holiday attire”). No response. Boo.

  • Emily

    Yeah, the “quirky” thing annoyed me too. Like Yule was Christmas back when it was indie or something? A different culture’s customs as weird or amusing. Which ties in perfectly with the native appropriation. Like the graphic designer was thinking, “Hmm, what else is ‘old school,’ kitschy, and now non-existent?” and thought tipis and Indians. I don’t even know.

  • Bumblebee

    …I just don’t understand it… Like sometimes I can gather a historical context or the thinking behind it. But no. I suppose judging from Cambridge 5K’s apology they just weren’t thinking?

  • http://propagandalalaland.blogspot.com/ Julia

    The images on those cards are disturbing, especially when you take into account the fact that so many Christian traditions were forced upon indigenous peoples to the point where the indigenous lost or semi-lost their traditions.

  • Charlotte86

    Glad you got a somewhat positive response back from them. #winningsmallbattles

  • Msritchie 1

    I think your nose is bent out of shape. Oops, sorry! Was that an anti-Indian remark???

  • M. Specialfxlady

    I’m co-signing on Jenn’s comment.

    Damn! History fail on SO many levels. I mean really, how much ignorance can an organization cram into one little postcard?

    And I haven’t even had my coffee yet…

  • Lady LW

    That postcard is just plain weird! Obviously, whoever designed it was high at the time.

  • Doc_Brown

    Who gives a shit? You liberals cry about EVERYTHING.

  • http://deadened-glow.deviantart.com/ Kat S

    Yule/Jul is a Scandinavian tradition, actually Xmas is called Jul in most Scandinavian countries. So seeing the postcard with that design is really confusing.

  • Some Nerd

    Careful! Don’t give Clover any press- they’ll throw you in the garbage with nary a second thought!

  • Jack

    Anyone else catch the unintentionally ironic double meaning of “post-race party”?

  • Rob

    Good catch, as usual. But I’d say it’s a man and a woman, not two women.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y5EGVBURMJL5RB72NSNGF5UOUU Mavis

    The part about costumes being encouraged on the back of a postcard with that image leads me to the conclusion that many a person will take it as a hint to do an “Indian Christmas” theme. Can’t wait to see photos from the event, especially from the free boozefest in the tent afterwards.

    There are several comments on their wall about the postcard, but so far an equally quick response of “oops, sorry” is on each one. Good to see that there have been no ignorant comments in response, unlike the few trolls that like to linger on a blog that is specifically about Native Appropriations and like to comment that Native people are overly sensitive about glaring examples of people appropriating our culture, like the terribly eloquent “Doc_Brown” below.

  • http://thewellappointedcatwalk.com Marissa

    Oh, Jesus. I’m embarrassed for my city.

  • http://thewellappointedcatwalk.com Marissa

    And, um, I think @Doc_Brown may be reading the wrong blog.

  • http://ericstoller.com/blog/ Eric Stoller

    I’m not sure if it was the same image, or a similar one, that was on the Cambridge 5K website. I said something about it on Twitter and they removed it within about 15 minutes of my tweet. I think the postcard represented something that was a lot harder to “remove.” Personally, I think that they realized that they messed up and hopefully next year’s marketing stays far far away from appropriating anyone or anything. I don’t think you were being overly critical or destroying anyone’s fun. Keep critiquing and pointing things out. BTW, I ran the race yesterday and it was definitely a silly, fun, and chilly event!

  • http://twitter.com/ArtofAprilAnna TheArtofApril-Anna

    I can totally see why you’d be offended and I think it’s highly inappropriate that they did that. First off, it shows ignorance about the true history of Christmas, it shows ignorance about Yule (which in some places never stopped being practiced) and ignorance about indiginous people of North America. It’s sad sad sad and very unfortunate. I live in Canada and I am gradually getting the impression that Canadians are less prone to that level/depth of ignorance; I have never seen a promotion like that here (I hope I never do). If anything, every so often I see a promotional poster or postcard that promotes multi-cultural awareness, acceptance and respect.

    Anyways that sucks ass that you are having to deal with that level of bs all the time. Some people might consider you a “fun-destroying-troll”, but I don’t (I am technically “white”).

  • http://twitter.com/ArtofAprilAnna TheArtofApril-Anna

    I can totally see why you’d be offended and I think it’s highly inappropriate that they did that. First off, it shows ignorance about the true history of Christmas, it shows ignorance about Yule (which in some places never stopped being practiced) and ignorance about indiginous people of North America. It’s sad sad sad and very unfortunate. I live in Canada and I am gradually getting the impression that Canadians are less prone to that level/depth of ignorance; I have never seen a promotion like that here (I hope I never do). If anything, every so often I see a promotional poster or postcard that promotes multi-cultural awareness, acceptance and respect.

    Anyways that sucks ass that you are having to deal with that level of bs all the time. Some people might consider you a “fun-destroying-troll”, but I don’t (I am technically “white”).