“I wanted him to be no joke. First of all, I wouldn’t f**k with someone with a dead bird on their head. Second of all, he’s got the f**king paint on his face, which scares me…I wanted to maybe give some hope to kids on the reservations. They’re living without running water and seeing problems with drugs and booze. But I wanted to be able to show these kids, ‘F**k that! You’re still warriors, man.’” (via Express)
Pull up a chair, I’d like to tell you a story. A long, long time ago (actually back in September), Jessica Metcalfe of Beyond Buckskin fame, got a google alert for “Native American” and “Fashion.” She was led to a press release from a party. A party that caused all of the brows of Indian Country furrow, and angry clouds full of lightning to form above our heads. This was the party:
After she posted a picture to facebook linking to over 1000 images of party-goers mock-scalping and playing Indian, I wrote this post. She wrote this post. Here’s an excerpt from my open letter to the company about why this was wrong:
The bottom line is this: your event stereotypes and demeans Native cultures, collapsing hundreds of distinct tribal and cultural groups into one “tribal” mish-mash, thereby erasing our individual identities and contemporary existence. Until 1978 with the passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, Native peoples could be arrested for practicing traditional spirituality–many aspects of which you mocked in your party theme. While the theme may have seemed “fun” and “playful” to you, to me as a Native person, it just represents our continued invisibility. When society only sees us as the images you presented, it means that our modern issues of poverty don’t exist, nor do our modern efforts like schooling and economic development through sovereignty and nation building. We have sophisticated tribal governments and communities, but how will we be able to be seen as modern, successful people if we are continually represented through plastic tomahawks and feathers?
Then Paul Frank deleted the images and apologized on FB and twitter. We thought that was that. But then, we each were contacted by the president of Paul Frank, Elie Dekel. We set up a phone call. Here’s what happened (an excerpt from this post):
The phone call went so much better than I could have even imagined. Elie was gracious, sincere, and kind from the beginning, and truly apologetic. He took full responsibility for the event, and said he wanted to make sure that this was something that never happened again, and wanted to learn more so he could educate his staff and colleagues. We talked about the history of representations of Native people in the US, and I even got into the issues of power and privilege at play–and the whole time, he actually listened, and understood. Such a refreshing experience.
I could go on and on about the call, but enough background, here are the incredible, amazing, mind-boggling action steps that the company has taken and has promised to take in the near future:
- They have already removed all of the Native inspired designs from their digital/online imprint
- The company works off a “Style Guide” that includes all of the digital art for the company, and then separate manufacturing companies license those images and turn them into products. Elie and his staff have gone through the style guide, even into the archives, and removed all of the Native imagery, meaning no future products will be produced with these images.
- They have sent (or it will be sent today) a letter to all of their manufacturers and partners saying none of this artwork is authorized for use and it has been removed from their business
and the MOST exciting part:
- Paul Frank Industries would like to collaborate with a Native artist to make designs, where the proceeds would be donated to a Native cause!
Elie said he wants to learn how this can be done in an appropriate and respectful manner, and that they’re not “looking to profit” from this. On top of it, we’ve set actionable next steps to make all of this happen, and he’s even assigned staff members to stay on it so it doesn’t slip through the cracks.
We were delighted. Jessica and I then embarked on a 9 month journey of monthly conference calls, hundreds of emails, and lots of back and forth to make this collaboration a reality. It wasn’t easy. There were many points that made us uncomfortable, things that challenged us, the designers, and negotiations that took a lot of trust. Jessica definitely pulled much of the weight, using all of her awesome Native fashion contacts, and this would not be happening if it weren’t for her, the designers, and our super nice contacts at Saban brands (the parent company of Paul Frank). We, and the designers, did this all for the experience and the awareness, no money was involved.
So today, the press release came out announcing the collaboration(!), and I’m thrilled to share it with you.
Throughout this whole process, I’ve been impressed with PF’s ability to admit they were wrong and learn from their mistakes. Something that I think all of us struggle with, and is even harder for a huge multi-national company to do. From Day 1, Elie admitted they messed up, and was willing to do all they could to make it right. But, on the other hand, Jessica and I had to push a bit at times to keep the beginning in mind. I’ll come back to that. Here’s the press release in full:
LOS ANGELES, June 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ – Paul Frank announced today its first-ever “Paul Frank Presents” fashion collaboration with four Native American designers from different tribes and regions across the country. Set to debut in August 2013, the collaboration fuses the iconic Paul Frank brand with four different artists’ aesthetics, each rooted in their heritage. The collection, which will include a tote bag, hand-beaded sunglasses, graphic tees and Hama bead jewelry is an expression of the Native American culture and a way for the artists to integrate their perspective and tribal identity into fashion.
Drawing inspiration from their communities, each artist is bringing to life a visual identity with roots from their culture. Louie Gong, a designer from the Nooksack tribe who creates custom drawings and paintings on materials, is creating a silk-screened canvas tote bag for the collection. Candace Halcro, from the Plains Cree/Metis tribes, is skilled with the classic Native American beading technique and will showcase her talents on authentic Paul Frank sunglasses. Dustin Martin, a graphic T-shirt fashion designer from the Navajo tribe, is using a phrase taught to him by his grandfather to inspire the prints of the famous Paul Frank character, Julius. And Autumn Dawn Gomez, a jewelry designer from the Comanche/Taos tribes, is creating accessories inspired by various landscapes, which have impacted her life.
“We’re honored to be working with such talented and enthusiastic designers for this fashion and accessories collection,” said Elie Dekel, President of Saban Brands. “Each artist has really captured the whimsical and fun energy of the Paul Frank brand and incorporated it into their designs for the line. We are so excited to share these items with Paul Frank fans very soon!”
To unveil the collection, Paul Frank is partnering with the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA) to host an event in Santa Fe, New Mexico on August 16, during SWAIA’s annual Indian Market Week. The event will showcase each of these designers and preview their limited edition pieces for the Paul Frank line for the very first time. These items will then be sold in the MoCNA Store.
Super exciting, right? We have four amazing designers, Louie Gong, Candace Halcro, Dustin Martin, and Autumn Dawn Gomez, and we’re having an awesome launch event at Indian Market in Santa Fe (which you should all come to!).
I also have some thoughts (what? Adrienne be critical of something? noooo). I’ll admit I’m treading on difficult ground here, and I’ll be honest about that. I have some initial reactions, and also have ongoing relationships with everyone involved, and am still very much excited about this collaboration and have enjoyed working with Paul Frank overall.
I don’t know if it struck you, but noticed right away an omission from the press release. There’s no mention of why this collaboration came about. I wouldn’t expect a whole re-hashing of the “Dream Catchin’ Powwow” fiasco, but maybe a mention of the fact that this collaboration came in response to an insensitive party?
I’m about to go all PhD on you here, so bear with me, but Dr. Bryan Brayboy at ASU often uses the term “Genesis Amnesia” (from Pierre Bourdieu) to discuss how, especially in regards to Indigenous and colonized peoples, we often forget the beginning. Everything becomes normalized–the power structures, the historical narrative taught in schools, policies towards Indigenous Peoples–and society accepts this as “the way it’s always been” and stops wondering why. Hegemonic power structures rely on us forgetting the beginning. Native peoples are “poor” and “alcoholics” because they are “lazy” or “unmotivated,” not because of centuries of systematic policies that have worked to put us in this position. Hipster headdresses are a fashion trend because they’re “fun” or “playful,” not because centuries of colonialism have painted Native traditions and spirituality as inferior and stripped the objects of their sacred origins, leaving them up for grabs.
So what does that have to do with Paul Frank? As much as it feels uncomfortable, we can’t forget the beginning. We can’t move away from the fact that this collaboration was born out of community mobilization and Native activism against a hurtful, racist party. Because if we erase that beginning, 20 years from now, Paul Frank is just seen as the happy company that collaborates with Natives–which is great, don’t get me wrong–but that takes away the power of what has been accomplished here. Remembering the origins reminds us of the inherent power structures in society (and therefore the fashion industry), that it took hundreds of angry voices, Native and non-Native, working together to move us forward this far. Remembering the beginning is how we continue to move forward together. History is written by those in power, so we need to continue to push to have our version shared and not forgotten.
I know that seems a little heavy for an exciting day–but I’ve got a critical lens I can’t turn off, and it wouldn’t be fair for me to just let you celebrate a big win for Indian Country without giving you something to think about. ha.
Thank you to all of you who have supported this collaboration throughout the last 9 months, to Jessica, to the designers–Louie, Candace, Autumn Dawn, Dustin, to Kelsey, Rebekah, Elie, and the rest of the team at PF, you have all been a pleasure to work with, and I’m so grateful that this has come together. Elie from the start had said that he hoped this could be a model for other companies to follow, and I really think it has been. I hope other companies follow suit, and that this brings to light the power of working with Native designers, and Native folks represent themselves in the fashion industry.
Hope to see you in Santa Fe!
From Beyond Buckskin:
Oh Armie Hammer. The guy who played twins in the Social Network, the guy who’s name sounds like baking soda. Now he’s playing the Lone Ranger opposite our good friend Johnny Depp as Tonto, and recently he said in an interview about the movie that all the Natives he talked to were SO SUPER STOKED that the film was being made. Guys, that’s the movie equivalent of “but I have a black friend!”
Tonto recap, if you haven’t been following along. My posts are here: my initial reactions, why you should care about Tonto when there are “bigger issues” out there, tearing apart Depp’s reasoning over his costume choices, and finally the controversy I dealt with for writing about Tonto.
So back to Armie. Here’s his quote in the LA times, defending the casting of Tonto, saying there were plenty Natives he talked to who loved it, and only white people were upset:
“They were nothing but excited about it. They loved it — they’re thrilled. It’s so funny, because every Native American we talked to was like, ‘This is awesome! I’m so excited.’ And every white person we talked to was like, ‘How dare you cast a non-Native American?’ It’s like, the white people are the one who have the problem, but the Indians — the Native Americans — are like, ‘This is great. We love it.’”
A few things.
So. The casting of a non-Native thing has kinda gone by the wayside for me. While I was initially super mad that they cast JD and didn’t give the role to a Native person (blah blah Johnny has Indian heritage blah blah he was adopted by the Comanche Naiton–Not the point right now. That doesn’t excuse anything.), the more that has come out about the film, the more I’m glad that a Native actor isn’t embroiled in this mess. So Armie, the casting is only part of the issue. The bigger issue is the mountain of stereotypes Depp’s portrayal of Tonto represents–from his hot mess of a costume with a freaking dead crow on his head, to the horrible stereotypical mystical warrior BS that we can see in the trailers, to the ridiculous and demeaning use of Tonto-speak broken English that has haunted Native communities since the first spaghetti westerns.
AK note: I know I’ve been away for a long time. I have lots and lots of exciting things to share with you, and I have many updates as to where I’ve been and where we’re going. I promise we’ll get there. Today, I need to write about Boston. This post has nothing to do with Native communities, other than the fact that I happen to be a Native person navigating this. So bear with me–I need to process, and the way I process is through writing. I wanted to come back with a happy, excited update post, but all in due time.
Yesterday, I woke up in my apartment in Watertown, a town on the border of Cambridge, across the river from the city of Boston. I was excited, and a little nervous, to head out and watch one of my best friends from college run his first Boston marathon. I had volunteered to deliver pedialyte at mile 20–and was worried that I would fail in my job. How would I find him in the crowds of runners? What if he missed me? Would I mess up his whole race? He needs his electrolytes! I even rented a car to make sure I would get there on time.
I drove out to the affluent suburb of Newton and set up shop right under the mile 20 marker, on the right side of the road, exactly where I told him I’d be. I was constantly refreshing my phone to track his progress–10k, 20k, 25k–amazed as he flew through the course, averaging 6:40 miles. The hand-off went smoothly, I should have known that his 6’5″ frame and enormous grin would be easy to spot. He waved hello as he approached, grabbed the water bottle, shouted, “Thank you! You’re the best!” and was gone. I let out a sigh of relief, laughing with fellow race-watchers about my earlier anxiety. Since my duty was done, I settled in to cheer on the runners.
My friend J met up with me, and we proceeded to cheer and clap as the brightly colored runners surged by. Everyone was excited, there was almost a festival atmosphere–horns, cowbells, balloons, kids selling $7 hotdogs (like I said, affluent area), and it was just fun. We took to yelling for the runners by name, as many of the runners wear their names taped to their chest or written on their arms in sweat-smeared sharpie. “Go Dave!” “Go Angie!” “Go Michelle!” We continued to yell until the crowd thinned, and it was only the slower runners carefully plodding along the course. We clapped, cheered, and offered encouragement, with our name-dropping eliciting smiles and tired thumbs ups. I talked to my superstar runner friend on the phone. He had finished in 3 hours, was happy with his performance, and said he was headed back to a friend’s apartment to take a shower. We made plans to eat an early dinner in Back Bay.
The original plan was for me to wander down to the finish line and watch the end of the race, but J and I stayed to wait for his friend’s dad to pass the mile marker, knowing he would be one of the last runners. We waited, gave him and his support crew a triumphant cheer, with J even jogging backwards in front of them for several yards to snap some pictures–a fairly entertaining sight.
Afterward, we parted ways, heading back to our cars, agreeing that it was a fun and inspirational afternoon. “I want to start running again!” I exclaimed as we were leaving, “maybe a marathon is in my future!” The community at the race and the community of runners had made be long to part of something like it.
Then I got a phone call from my sister, and I could hear fear in her voice from the moment I answered. “Hey sees, are you ok? You’re not at the finish line, are you?” and then I heard. I heard about the two explosions at the finish line, the reports of mass casualties, the chaos and confusion. “Just get home safe,” she told me. My hands were shaking as I started the car, and my phone began ringing and buzzing off the hook as floods of concerned friends and family called to check in. My head was cloudy as I drove toward home, and in a panic, I ended up taking a wrong turn and was suddenly on the Mass Pike–headed towards the chaos, rather than away from it. My phone was dying, I didn’t know where I was going, and I was scared. Helicopters roared overhead, emergency vehicles flew past, lights flashing and sirens blaring. I ended up right where I didn’t want to be, and each wrong turn seemed to bring me closer to the exact place I wanted to get away from.
In a moment of clarity, looking at my dying phone, I found a CVS, and pulled into the parking lot. Several more police cars raced by, and cars blared their horns as stressed pedestrians tried to cross the street against the lights. I walked inside, and the contrast was so strange. While the world outside felt chaotic and wild, inside was cool, and eerily calm, with the same awkward muzak playing over the speakers, the same rows of the products found at any CVS in the country. The store brought such strange normalcy, I almost wanted to cry. I wanted to browse the shelves and stay in there until someone told me it was safe to venture back outside. Instead, I bought a car charger for my phone, and asked to use the restroom. After letting me in to the restroom, the pharmacist, a sweet older woman, gave me a hug, and told me to get home safe.
I finally got home, but not without getting turned away by police at multiple junctures. All bridges in and out of the city were blocked, along with most of the race route. I ended up driving all the way back out to Newton and circling back. My route took me across the road where only an hour earlier I had stood with J, cheering on the racers. It now was deserted, with police walking along the street, litter and caution tape fluttering in the wind. There wasn’t a civilian in sight.
It wasn’t until I got home and turned on the news until the full weight of what had happened hit me. The images were so gruesome, so horrific–I was in total disbelief. My roommate spoke to her friend in Afghanistan, and she said the images looked like those from the war zone she inhabits everyday. I spent the next few hours checking on all my friends, making sure everyone was alright. Miraculously, they all were. Even friends who had been at the finish minutes before the blasts were fine. I processed slowly, seeing the images as if they were from somewhere else, not the joyful place I had been that morning. Then reading the New York Times, a line jumped out at me–”There are reports that additional unexploded devices were found along the route, including in Newton, a suburb 6 miles from the finish.” It was then that I began to panic. I felt my heart pound and tears well up in my eyes. The report has since been removed, but in that moment, it all went from something that happened to others, to something that could have happened to me.
I am so lucky, and so grateful. My story isn’t one of chaos, smoke, and injury–but one of simple uncertainty and fear. I feel strange even writing about it–It could have been so much worse. My friends are safe, I’m safe–but there are so many who are not.
We hear of bomb blasts everyday in the Middle East. We hear the numbers killed by drone strikes, of IED’s killing hundreds of soldiers and civilians. But we’ve become numb to it. We’ve forgotten that these bombings are about people, people with families, lives, stories, hopes, and fears. We debate about whether this heinous act is an “act of terrorism” and madly tweet when the president uses the phrase. We’ve forgotten that terrorism is the use of violence to reach political aims–there is nothing in the definition that includes the word “muslim.” I was so saddened by the rush of initial tweets implicating a “Saudi national,” or a “dark skinned man with a hooded sweatshirt and a backpack.” I was hurt by this quick racism and xenophobia that followed the event–an event that started as a day so full of communal joy. Now communities of color continue to hold their breath, praying those responsible are not one of their own. I am also disappointed in the way this has been covered in the media, a glorification of blood and mutilated bodies, the sharing of images that are not necessary to understand the weight of what happened. We are a nation obsessed with consumption of information in real time, and I, as someone who spends all day online, am a part of that culture. But it feels so hurtful and insensitive when the images are of my own backyard. A double standard, to be sure.
But in reading the accounts of the first responders, the folks tearing down barriers to reach the wounded, the googledoc of thousands of homes being opened to runners and families, I was proud of my city–a city that admittedly I’ve been harsh on for the last four years, one where I’ve never completely felt at home.
Earlier in the day, as J and I were getting situated at the race, a big hawk flew overhead, low enough that I could see its markings and the color variations on its feathers. I pointed it out to J, smiling, “It’s a good sign. It’s protection.” I watched it circle over us and the runners for a few minutes, amazed as it lingered. I see hawks often–I’m known for spotting them in the most unexpected and urban of settings–so I wasn’t surprised. But by the end of the night, I realized the importance, and was so grateful for the watchful eye of my ancestors. At the time, I had tried to snap a picture, but ended up with one of just the bright blue sky.
So I’m still processing. I don’t know what to think, I don’t know how to make sense of the tragedy, I don’t know how I feel that I was lucky enough to be 6.2 miles from the explosions. I was so humbled by the hundreds of texts, tweets, calls, facebook posts, and instagram comments from concerned friends I received yesterday, it was amazing to know how many friends, some whom I’ve never even met in real life, cared about my safety. Today in Boston is eerily normal, at least over here on the other side of the river. I was chided for late assignments for Ed Review, my dissertation proposal is still due in two days, and the sun still shined. But folks are a bit kinder–the harsh Bostonian stare I’ve come to recognize has been replaced by nods and eye contact, the bus driver this morning told those of us exiting the bus to “have a great day and stay safe.” The community has come together. The overwhelming feeling I have today is one of community–and a community trying to make sense of a senseless and horrific act.
My prayers and thoughts are with all of the families who were affected, and I don’t know where we’ll go from here. It all still feels foreign and strange. But I know the city will bounce back. Boston is made up of tough survivors, and I know we’ll get through.
This morning my brain woke me up wide awake at 5am, just opened my eyes, ready to go, like this were a normal and everyday experience. The reality is quite the opposite–most mornings I hit snooze more than I care to admit. My brain was whirring from the moment I blinked awake, and I decided to put to paper some of the things I’ve been working on in my head. I’ve been feeling in a very contemplative mood the last few days, maybe brought on by my recent trip to Stanford (my alma mater), where I did a talk at the Native house and followed around one of my awesome dissertation study kiddos. It was a great trip, despite the fact that I came down with a terrible cold, and it was amazing and strange to realize how much and how little has changed in the five years since I’ve graduated. The students there are so incredible, and I admittedly felt extremely self conscious to be heralded almost a hometown hero upon my arrival, interviewed by the new activist blog on campus, given a special shout out at the Stanford American Indian Organization meeting, met with whispers when I walked into the Native center. I am so grateful and still often shake my head in disbelief at the journey Native Appropriations has taken me on in the past three years, and I felt like it was time to reflect and share the origin story of the blog, the path it has taken, and where I hope it will go in the future. Continue Reading…
Live and learn. I guess the “quick post” model failed–you should see my inbox. Guys, I know the Seminole Tribe of Florida has worked with FSU and offered their approval of the mascot and associated images. I know quite a bit about the relationship, actually, and I’ve been learning quite a bit more in the last day or so…thanks to the strongly worded responses from some passionate FSU fans.
Florida State has been the “Seminoles” since 1947, and have had a “relationship” with the Seminole Tribe of Florida for many years, but it was solidified more recently. In 2005, the NCAA passed a resolution, calling Native American Mascots “hostile and abusive,” and prohibiting schools with these mascots from hosting post-season events. The Seminole Tribe of Florida then officially gave their permission to use Osceola as the mascot, letting FSU get a waiver from the NCAA rule.
Disclaimer, and a big one–I am not Seminole, and I don’t want to speak for the tribe. I am offering my interpretation and perspective, but it’s just mine. I am going to be up front and say that I don’t agree with the choice to give the university permission to mock Native culture (see the billboard and video I posted earlier), and I don’t find a “stoic” dude in a wig and redface throwing a flaming spear “honoring” (see photo above), and I definitely don’t think that the “war chant” is respectful in any way. In fact I find it quite “hostile and abusive.”
Florida State University (home of the “Seminoles”) has unveiled a new billboard for their MBA program. I always wonder how these types of things make it through so many layers of approval. Kirsten who sent it over said this has been their slogan for awhile, apparently. While we’re at it, have you seen the new commercial made by students in FSU’s College of Motion Picture Arts?:
Yeah. “A spirit roams these parts…a spirit of respect.” Respect for who, exactly?
Programming note: I’m going to be trying something a bit new (or old, if you’re a long-time reader of the blog) where I share a lot of these “random appropriations” in between longer blog posts. I’m not going to go through and deconstruct all of them, it’s more to share the ubiquity of these images and how pervasive they are in our society. But I always welcome conversation in the comments!
(Thanks to Kirstin for the image, and everyone who sent me the commercial!)
If you hadn’t noticed, something is a little different around here…I finally took the plunge and made the switch over to wordpress and my own domain (omg I know, right?). I’m super excited, and relieved that most of the transition seems to have gone relatively smoothly, though there are still a lot of little things that need fixing and adjusting.
So please bear with me over the next few days (weeks?) as I try and tweak and refine all the things that have gone wrong (such as the thousands of comments stuck in disqus limbo, the fact that none of the images are centered in posts anymore, there are no more “jumps” in any of the posts, and any youtube video I ever embedded is lost)…but it’ll get done! I’ll definitely need some help to figure it all out, so if you come across any broken links, missing pictures, or anything else that seems wonky or off, please let me know. Email is still the same, nativeappropriations(at)gmail(dot)com.
I’m really looking forward to playing around with the functionality and customizability of wordpress, I already have some grand plans in the works, so please keep checking back as I add and change.
A very happy new year to all of you, I can’t wait to see what 2013 brings!
PS-I would also like to send a HUGE wado (thanks) to reader C. who sent me a donation that covered all the costs of this move and paid for my theme. It was the best Christmas surprise I could have ever asked for. I am constantly humbled and blown away by all of your support–thank you to each and every one of you!
entitled-full-of-sh*t-not-so-secretly-racist fan of Indian mascots,
I’m pretty sick of your behavior right now. I’ve written a lot of well-reasoned posts about mascots. I’ve provided both appeals to emotion and to science. I’ve shared stories about how people “like you” have changed their minds about Indian mascots. I’ve shared my own experiences about how I, as a Native person, feel when I encounter these images. I’ve been kind-hearted and tried to be understanding. This is not one of those posts.
Because today, I’m mad. Today, Paul Lukas of Uni Watch, who has recently been a big friend to the Native community on the issue of Indian mascots, dared give the Atlanta Braves new racist throwback hat featuring a whooping savage the grade of an “F” in his fictional grading system of the new batting practice hats for the MLB. He dared say:
“Last year the Braves conspicuously avoided using their “screaming Indian” logo as a sleeve patch on their retro alternate jersey — a welcome move for those of us who oppose the appropriation of Native American imagery in sports. Unfortunately, it turns out that the logo hasn’t been permanently mothballed. Disappointing. Grade: F”
Read those vile and fighting words! Clearly he is calling each and every one of you a dirty, stinking racist. Clearly he is saying that you are the scum of the earth and that everything you hold dear is offensive to someone, so you might as well run around naked and live in a hole in the ground to stave off the “PC police” who are coming for you. Yes, by saying that returning to a tired, offensive stereotype of Native people is “disappointing,” that’s clearly what he meant.
Because in the comments, it seems you and your fellow sports fans have lost your damn minds. There are 30 caps in the post, 30 pieces of commentary from Lukas, but somehow, 99.9% of the comments on the article are concerning the Braves cap. You are so original to pretend you are a “pirate” and are offended by the Pirates, or that you are a “communist” and are offended by the Reds. Or Irish, or a Viking, or even more creatively, you’re an elephant who’s offended by the new A’s logo! L.O. effing L. Cause, yep, Indians are just like pirates and Irish and communists and elephants! All those folks are marginalized racial groups who have been historically oppressed and continue to have the highest statistics for poverty, and homelessness, and suicide, and live in third world conditions, while they constantly and repeatedly have their cultures and lives mocked and stereotyped on every corner. Yep! The welfare lines are just full of elephants this time of year.
And I’m so glad there are people like your friend “chrohandhaivey” who can tell me what I should be honored by and how “fierce” I “was”:
Im tired of this native american racist crap…$@%! you should be honored your race is a team mascot…thats a good thing…it shows how fierce you were to be used as a sports team….its not like its the n****rs or something i mean come on…personally i wish there was an Atlanta team named the “White People”…Id rock the $@%! out of that with pride not complain about it like some puddins
Or your friend “canigs013″ who gave us a backhanded compliment by saying we’re “too smart” to care about mascots:
for real. has anyone actually heard a native american complain about things like that? no, because they’re too smart to care about dumb things that do not matter.
Nope, “canigs013,” you’re right. I’ve never heard of a Native American complain about Indian mascots. Nope, there’s not a supreme court case, or millions of news articles, or decades and decades of activism against the cause. Nope.
But I’m stoked that one of your other friends brought up the infamous Sports Illustrated poll that shows that 80% of Native Americans support Indian mascots. A poll from 2002. Here are 20 other things that were popular in 2002, and I don’t think you’d care to argue their relevance today. Though, who knows, maybe you are rockin’ your CD’s on your walkman right now while fearing a boyband anthrax attack. There are also a million other things wrong with that poll, including the fact that they won’t release their polling sample or how they determined who to interview. Read this article to hear all the ways that poll is ridiculous and shouldn’t be used in an argument a decade later. A decade later.
I really wonder if you know how you sound. Your arguments are tired, are weak, and are getting more eye-roll worthy by the day. How long will you stand by the argument that “PC culture” is ruining “your” America? I’d like to share this awesome quote by Dion Beary that sums up your thought process perfectly for me:
Politically correct” is just a term assholes came up with so they can dismiss people who have the nerve to want to be respected. Demanding not to be stereotyped is not political correctness, it’s a human right, and you are not some hero for refusing to respect people’s right to be treated like humans.
I am a real person. Hi. I am a modern Indian who likes sports and doesn’t want to take away “your” beloved francise. But the images aren’t yours to keep. They’re representations of me, and my people, and my ancestors, and I should have the right to control them. And you see, the thing is, times change. While maybe at one time (though I’m gonna stand by the fact that it’s never been acceptable) these images were deemed “A-ok,” we’re not in that time anymore. In the not-so-distant past, folks were lamenting the loss of the minstrel show as a lovely form of family entertainment, or demanding that black folks use separate water fountains. Which side of the fight do you really want to be on?
You might think “PC lefties” (actual term in the comments) expend too much energy fighting mascots when they “don’t matter”–but, in all honesty, I can’t believe how quickly and ferociously you jump in to decry the “oversensitivity” of Native folks. You’re sure acting pretty “sensitive” at the thought of losing your mascot for someone who thinks mascots don’t matter. I’m just saying. Did someone touch a nerve?
So really, Really think about what you’re defending. You’re defending your “right” to don a stereotypical and offensive caricature of a Native person. A caricature that I know you look at and feel in your gut is wrong. You’re attacking a reporter who dared call the look “disappointing.” You’re showing your insecurities and your roots, and they’re really not pretty.
I want you to take a deep breath, cause there’s some major smoke coming out of your keyboard right now. Take a deep breath and think about it. Call me overly sensitive, tell me I don’t represent “real Indians,” tell me that I’m being “PC” or “a left wing nut,” but I know, and I’m pretty sure deep down in that sports-loving-heart even you know, that maybe I’m right.
PS-I know not all of you are like this. I know that a lot of you do take the time to think, and a lot of you will and have realized that it’s time to abolish Indian mascots once and for all. I know that you love your teams, and that the Indian images have been a part of your families and lives for generations. I know that you don’t mean any harm. But I’m confident that when you open up your minds to hear the other side, you’ll realize that it’s time. Native people deserve better than to be memorialized or “honored” by stereotypes on a MLB cap.
(So much for not being kind-hearted and understanding. Damn. Blame my new friend who’s a lifelong fan of that-team-in-Washington, though I’m pretty sure I’ve changed his mind at this point…)
The article that started it all:
A reminder of why this blog exists, one reader’s experience(Stanford alum who changed his mind about the mascot)
The Fighting Sioux are back, my passionate plea against Indian Mascots
The Fighting Sioux Part 2, the science (citing a study done by Stanford alumna Stephanie Fryberg)
Thanks for the severed head, you’ve proved my point
|Long exposure on the hoop dancer…all artistic and stuff.|
I wanted to try something different to share my experience at the Idle No More solidarity rally in LA on Friday, so I made a podcast-of-sorts. I give some thoughts on the Idle No More movement, a little background, and set the scene. But then, the exciting part, I was able to interview some awesome folks at the rally: Andrea Landry, Crystle Lightning, Adam Beach (yes, ADAM BEACH), and Kevin Gonzaga. The podcast is about 20 minutes long, and the interviews give background on the movement and legislation in Canada, Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike, what this means for Native people in the US, how these rallies and collective action are changing perceptions of Indigenous Peoples, and what the role of settler allies (non-Native allies) can be in the movement. Some really good stuff in their own words. Soundcloud link below, and more pictures after the jump: