April 09, 2014

Humane Society doesn't oppose Inuit seal hunts

More on the story begun in "Sealfies" vs. Ellen's Selfie and continued in Throat Singer Threatened Over "Sealfie":

Humane Society says it doesn't oppose Inuit seal hunt

Donation to group by Ellen DeGeneres sparked #sealfie social media campaign"Commercial sealing advocates have long attempted to blur the lines between their globally condemned industry and the socially accepted Inuit subsistence hunt," Aldworth said in a statement Tuesday.

"Unlike Inuit sealers, commercial sealers almost exclusively target baby seals who are less than three months old. Inuit hunters kill seals primarily for meat," she said.

"Commercial sealers slaughter seal pups for their fur, dumping most of the carcasses at sea. Inuit sealers kill seals sporadically throughout the year, while commercial sealers often kill hundreds of thousands of seals in a matter of days or weeks."

Inuit have long maintained that any opposition to the seal hunt, commercial or otherwise, harms Inuit by destroying the market for seal furs. That's the reason Inuit launched a legal challenge against a European ban of seal products, even though that legislation included an exemption for seal products harvested by Inuit.

Inuit Answer Hollywood With Sealfie Photo Booths, Giant Group PicThe war of images over the seal hunt is going as epic as a Hollywood movie.

The indigenous land claims group Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) is running a photo booth on April 10 and staging a humongous group “sealfie” on Friday April 11 in protest of some celebrity activists' stance against the seal hunt. Meanwhile the Humane Society of the United States, which is the beneficiary of the donation generated by the famous photo tweeted from the Oscars by host Ellen DeGeneres, says it does not oppose the small, sustainable Inuit seal hunt, just the commercial one. The Inuit say that is not the point. They are using the attention to educate the world on their history and culture.
And:For its part, the Humane Society of Canada says the Inuit have got it all wrong and are protesting something that the group never objected to.

“We have never opposed the Inuit subsistence seal hunt that occurs in Canada’s North,” said Humane Society International/Canada executive director Rebecca Aldworth in a statement on April 8. “Animal protection groups oppose the commercial seal slaughter, which occurs in Atlantic Canada and is almost entirely conducted by non-aboriginal people.”

But to put it in these terms is to completely misunderstand the significance of the seal hunt and the role it plays in Inuit relations with the world, NTI leaders said.

“Various animal rights groups now say they do not oppose the Inuit seal hunt because it is sustainable and humane and provides food and clothing for people,” said NTI CEO James Arreak in a statement. “It is true that Nunavut’s seal hunt is humane and sustainable. It is also a commercial harvest. Inuit sell sealskins and seal products.”
Below:  "About 30 people gathered in Iqaluit two weeks ago to shoot a pro-seal hunting #sealfie to protest a $1.5 million donation from funds raised by Ellen DeGeneres's Oscar selfie to the Humane Society of the United States, an organization that fights seal hunting." (Emily Ridlington/CBC)

April 08, 2014

Peruvian TV character Paisana Jacinta

Indigenous Lawmaker Wants Racist Anti-Indigenous TV Show Off the Air

By Rick KearnsThe Peruvian TV character known as “Paisana Jacinta” is racist and insulting to indigenous people according to Congresswoman Hilaria Supa, a Quechua leader and human rights activist.

Supa publicly called on the Frequencia Latina Channel on March 24 to remove the “Paisana Jacinta” show from the air.

According to various sources, the character Jacinta is an indigenous Andean woman who comes from the mountains to the city of Lima to find work. The story arc of each episode involves Jacinta getting fooled, tricked or swindled by a variety of people. The role of Jacinta is played by comedian Jorge Benevides who has been accused of racism for his role as “El Negro Mama” (the Black Mama in English) as part of a general comedy show.

As “El Negro Mama” Benevides wore blackface and used a prosthetic nose and lips to portray the character who was described as being dishonest and stupid according to sources. The character was taken off the air and in 2013 Frequencia Latina was fined 74,000 Soles (approximately $27,000 U.S. dollars) for its failure to apologize to the Afro-Peruvian community. But Benevides and Frequencia Latina returned with the controversial indigenous character this year.

April 07, 2014

Pro-nickname banner at UND

UND sorority in trouble for pro-nickname banner during Indian-themed Time Out Week

By Anna BurlesonUND's Gamma Phi Beta sorority is in hot water again for what is being seen as anti-Indian behavior.

The international chapter of the group has issued an apology for hanging a pink banner that read, "You can take away our mascot but you can't take away our pride!" to celebrate UND playing in the NCAA Frozen Four tournament.

The house, which sits next to the American Indian Student Services building, hung the banner on an outside wall on Monday and people were quick to react via social media before it was taken down the same day.

UND President Robert Kelley issued a statement saying he was disappointed and that the timing of its display, at the start an Indian-themed educational event called Time Out Week, demonstrated a lack of sensitivity.

Someone on Facebook commented:Really? Especially during Time Out Week of all things. Then again can't say I am really surprised since this is the sorority that had the Cowboy and Indian party a while back. Perhaps they should take in some of our events?

Comment:  I guess the main problems were the timing and the location of the banner. I'm not sure people would've objected to it in another context.

April 06, 2014

Help Indians? Change "Redskins" name

More Native opinions on Dan Snyder's Redskins foundation:

The Battle of Washington

Daniel Snyder says it honors the heritage of Native Americans; critics consider it nothing less than a racist slur. We set out to gauge the real sentiment regarding the name ‘Redskins’ among Native American leaders and in grass-roots tribal communities around the country. The short answer: It’s complicated

By Jenny Vrentas
At least a dozen members of Congress want the name changed, as do some civil rights groups and vocal members of the national media. The people at the heart of the debate, though, are those at the grass-roots level among the more than 500 recognized tribes in the U.S. The MMQB took the temperature of Native Americans from coast to coast—representing 18 tribes in 10 states—and found a complicated and nuanced issue. What we did not find: the “overwhelming majority” that Snyder and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell have claimed support the name “Redskins.”

We found opponents of the name in 18 tribes: veterans of the U.S. military, lawyers, college students, cultural center employees, school volunteers and restaurant servers. Their viewpoints align with official statements from dozens of tribes or inter-tribal councils and from the NCAI, which represents more than 250 tribal governments at the Embassy of Tribal Nations. Many of these people wondered how, or if, their voices are being counted.

By no means is there a consensus. We met a man in San Carlos who grew up rooting for Joe Theismann. Others pointed out how the Florida State Seminoles and Central Michigan Chippewas use Native American mascots with the approval and input of the tribes. Some whom we spoke to on the San Carlos and Big Cypress reservations said they had no opinion, and members of about a dozen other tribes or communities we reached out to did not respond or declined to be interviewed.

But team officials and the NFL paint a nearly uniform picture of support for the name, typically citing the results of a 2004 survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center, that 90 percent of the 768 self-identified Native Americans polled said the team name “Redskins” did not bother them. (The question: “The professional football team in Washington calls itself the Washington Redskins. As a Native American, do you find that name offensive or doesn’t it bother you?”). That survey is 10 years old. Can the same opinion be applied today?
Vrentas's conclusion:This name-change debate is a bit like the old paradox of physics: What happens when an immovable object meets an unstoppable force? Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, weighed in boldly last week, telling the Washington Post he thinks the name will be changed within three years.

Snyder has already given his response to the growing pressure for a name change, and that response was last week’s announcement. To many, it’s an answer to a different question. “A paltry attempt to buy your way out of an ugly situation,” says Smith, the former Cherokee leader. “It suggests to me it may take another generation for them to come to their senses. It tells me it’s going to take more time.”

Maybe not. By now, opponents of the name are not expecting the change to be initiated by Snyder and the team, but rather through external pressures—the trademark case, legislation or public resistance. In the meantime, the calls are getting louder. “He’s clearly made sure that we all understand he’s grounded in his decision,” Pata says of Snyder. “But it doesn’t change [our optimism] at all. I think a change will be made in the near future. There is not even a doubt in my mind. I just do not think this can continue to be tolerated. This is not America, and it defies not just the first Americans, but who we are as American people, to be disrespectful to other people.”

Perhaps the most relevant question is not if there is a consensus among the country’s more than 5 million Native Americans—the answer is no—but rather, should a name change depend on one?
The Price of a Slur

By David TreuerThe unstated mission of the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation is clear: In the face of growing criticism over the team’s toxic name and mascot imagery, the aim is to buy enough good will so the name doesn’t seem so bad, and if some American Indians—in the racial logic of so-called post-racial America, “some” can stand in for “all”—accept Mr. Snyder’s charity, then protest will look like hypocrisy.

In his news release and public statements, Mr. Snyder refers to “our shared Washington Redskins” heritage. To be clear: There is no “our” that includes Mr. Snyder. And there is no “Redskins” that includes us. There has been a sustained effort for decades by activists to change the name of this team and others. Members of my tribe, the Ojibwe, have been a big part of such efforts.
And:Mr. Snyder has been quick to point out that he has the support of a handful of those he calls “tribal leaders,” such as the Lower Brule Sioux tribe vice chairman, Boyd Gourneau, and the Pueblo of Zuni governor, Arlen Quetawki, both quoted in the news release.

“Tribal officials” might be a better term here than “tribal leaders” because although they are elected, it is in no way clear that they actually represent the sentiments of their constituents any more than John Boehner represents the sentiments of most Americans. These officials’ public-relations-ready comments—“I appreciate your sincerity” and “the entire tribe is so appreciative”—are the diplomatic words of dignitaries, nothing more. It would be a mistake to assume that those words imply democratic consent.
The first project for Snyder’s foundation: Changing a name

By Brian CladoosbyThe invisibility of Native peoples and lack of positive images of Native cultures may not register as a problem for many Americans, but it poses a significant challenge for Native youth who want to maintain a foundation in their culture and language. The Washington team’s brand—a name derived from historical terms for hunting native peoples—is a central component to this challenge.

It seems quite clear that Snyder’s foundation will do little to address the problems that the R-word brand compounds daily: racial inequality and a lack of understanding of the place of native people in our society, especially youth.

These youth are an especially vulnerable population. Many are at a disadvantage because their communities lack basic infrastructure; before dealing with the challenges of career development and higher education, they must overcome life without phone service, Internet access or even running water. The rate of suicide among Native youth is the highest among all American young people. Studies show the use of American Indian-based names, mascots and logos in sports has a negative psychological effect on Native peoples and positive psychological consequences for European Americans.

Snyder has stated that his foundation will address issues facing Native youth, so we call on this new multimillion-dollar organization to advocate for a simple solution to address what many of the nation’s leading Native youth advocacy organizations have called for: the end of derogatory mascot imagery in our communities, media and culture. From that point forward, the organization will be able to spend its money even more effectively to address other institutional sources of racism and violence.

If the foundation does not address this issue, it will be clear that its works are window dressing to cover the team’s decades of racism against African Americans and Native Americans alike.
Racist mascots, or standing up for what's right

By Clara CaufieldI say the Redskins foundation was created to divert attention from the mascot issue and to rebut controversy. I mentioned this to the Redskins representatives (who declined to talk about it) and to tribal council members, including my brother Oly McMakin. “Do you think this will make us, the 'Fighting Cheyenne' look like sell-out wimps?” he asked.

“Possibly, but, the council must decide since you are on the twin horns of a dilemma. You are charged to meet the needs of our people, including children and elders who need coats, shoes, food, etc. But, you must also consider principle. Not all Cheyenne, like you, count on a regular paycheck," I responded.

As the publisher of a very small reservation newspaper, I thought I should not offend the tribe--a major economic player in this desolate economy. But, after reading other opinions, news articles and consulting with Dr. Richard Littlebear, my key advisor who usually sees things more clearly, I must state my views.

The Original Americans Foundation is a slick PR move to gain support from poor Native Americans to keep the Redskins mascot, cheaper than changing the “brand name” and commerce associated with the current mascot and logo. Most likely, the Redskins owner calls upon many corporate sponsors (the representatives mentioned Walmart and Sears) to get free tax write-offs.

Do we think the money comes from the hip pocket of the Redskins owner or is jerked from the tights of Redskins players? If so, we are foolish.

April 05, 2014

FSU updates Seminole logo

Florida State altering Seminole logo

By Jared ShankerFlorida State and its Seminole logo will undergo minor alterations.

The design alterations are rooted in the university’s desire to create consistency in its school colors and brand, but Florida State will continue to use the Seminole head as its logo. The head will undergo some alterations, as well.

“The changes are very minor and the primary thing people will see is consistency in the garnet,” Florida State vice president for university relations Liz Maryanski said. “If you go into a sports store and look across the store, you’ll see as many shades of garnet as there are T-shirts, and we’re trying to get consistency in our colors.

“… We’ll still have what we call ‘the head’ with the Seminole [Tribe’s] blessing.”
Florida State fans furious with leaked Seminole logo update

By Nick SchwartzAlthough the changes to Osceola’s face are slight, many fans seem to hate the new design.

Heather Hostetter @heaaaatherrrr
I don't know why they would ever change the FSU logo. It's everywhere and everyone knows it. The new one just looks stupid.

Max Orr @Max_Orr
I'm really upset with the logo. Don't change perfection #FSU

James W. Thompson @LifeAsJamesT
I'm so out on the new FSU logo. I will never wear that logo.

Not a good look: On FSU's recent changes to the Seminole head logo and Florida State's relationship to its fans

Not a good look: On FSU's recent changes to the Seminole head logo and Florida State's relationship to its fans

By Brendan BuresLet's ignore this comment from FSU’s Athletics Department: “The issue was that our Seminole Head, while as recognizable and iconic as any in all of sports, does not reproduce well in a number of mediums (sic). It is particularly difficult to embroider and impossible to accurately represent on some materials including at midfield at Doak Campbell Stadium” and how it belies this new logo will solve all these problems.

Let's, then, begin with how Florida State’s new logo resembles an Italian father suffering a mid-life crisis to become a KISS band member while simultaneously enduring chronic diarrhea rather than a Seminole Indian. And let us also start with its unveiling: how in the dark all of us were, and how a simple picture from a Walmart employee derailed a reveal to change history. Because this is what we’re contending.

The new Seminole head is plain bad. It looks whitewashed of tradition and history, qualities Florida State rhetorically marries itself to any chance given. It’s poorly designed by Nike, who continues to prominently include a feather in FSU apparel, like when they redesigned FSU’s basketball uniforms with a feather streaking along the sides. (A uniform trait, it should be noted, that looks particularly silly whenever a player’s shirt becomes untucked from his pants.)

Furthermore, it resembles a white guy impersonating his idea of a Native American rather than an actual Native American. Doesn’t exactly help our reputation of cultural appropriation. While the Seminole tribe reportedly approved these changes, it was Nike who was influential in the design. It is no wonder why this new Seminole head looks so white. Florida State and Nike might believe this façade, but fans are holding no such illusions.
Daily Rant: Not much is native about new FSU logo

By John A. TorresSeminole fans are up in spears about the new logo.

But, seriously, I don’t see what the big deal is. Sure, the new logo looks less Native American and more Halloweenish but we need a logo we can identify with. How many of us have really interacted with a Seminole? (Is it OK to call them Indians?)

We want somebody that looks more like us. Most of us these days have teeth, so they’ve given the logo a nice set of choppers. Who cares if they look like grandpa’s dentures?

They’ve also done away with the wild, savage-like hair and given the logo a neat John Travolta-type of hairdo. Think “Saturday Night Fever.” They’ve added nice little streaks of white in the coif, making the warrior a little more approachable. Maybe this guy really would like to sit down with you and smoke a peace pipe.
Comment:  A few Native commenters noted that the new logo does indeed look like a white man. Perversely, one could say that's appropriate. The logo and mascot have always been about a white man portraying a false and stereotypical version of an Indian: "Chief" Osceola. Why not make this misrepresentation explicit?

But on a purely aesthetic level, I'd say the new logo is infinitely better. I always thought what FSU officials are implying: that the old logo was ugly. It looked like a muddled child's drawing, and I'm not surprised it didn't reproduce well. The new logo "wins" because it's clear and sharp and uncluttered with lettering.

But it's still a screaming savage, so it still fails as a Native representation. Sorry, but any logo with a leering, snarling, or screaming Indian is racist and wrong.

For more on the subject, see FSU's Seminole Mascot Is "Stunting" and ESPN's Seminole Minstrel Show. For my seminal Seminole takedown, see Why FSU's Seminoles Aren't Okay.

April 04, 2014

#CancelColbert stymied "Redskins" protest?

Snyder Wins: How 'CancelColbert' Drowned Out the Native VoiceTwitter activist Suey Park, who became known for her hashtag #NotYourAsianSidekick and helped Native Tweeters publicize tags including #NotYourTonto and #NotYourMascot, reacted to the Tweet swiftly, calling for Colbert's firing with the #CancelColbert hashtag, which became a ubiquitous news story. Meanwhile, Stephen Colbert could only watch it unfold: he'd already taped his Thursday episode and his show does not air on Fridays, so he would not be able to address the controversy on his show until Monday.

This he did, last night, in a long segment, punctuated by sips of a Bud Light Lime, that began with the context of the joke--Dan Snyder and the Redskins, remember--and ran through many of the details above. (You can watch the whole thing at Comedy Central's website.) He also called for the attacks on Park, which had become quite vicious, to stop. In his closing words, he said that he would be donating the money raised by his offensive faux charity to the offensive real-life charity that inspired the joke that caused the kerfluffle: The Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation.

"...which Twitter seems to be fine with," he said, "because I haven't seen shit about that."

And that's the bottom line for the Native activists on Twitter who saw a real opportunity to open some eyes when Snyder announced his bizarrely named charity: The momentum building for their campaign--#Not4Sale--was stymied by #CancelColbert. In an interview with The New Yorker that only briefly mentioned Dan Snyder and his foundation, Suey Park admitted she likes Colbert Report and didn't actually want to see it canceled. Yet a single Tweet connected to a satirist--whose well-known shtick is to parody arrogant conservatives--made more waves than a campaign against a racist team name that has been with us for decades.

As Jackie Keeler of Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry tweeted from her @jfkeeler feed: "Issue is not critique of skit but disproportional outrage vis a vis Actual racist foundation--Snyder wins."

#CancelColbert Collateral Damage to EONM (Eradicating Offensive NativeMascotry)

By Jennie StockleThe reason this plays in what happened in the aftermath of #CancelColbert is that it was those same people, and I believe Suey Park herself either believing them or encouraging them, that would come back at us with a catastrophic effect to Native Americans.

During #CancelColbert several EONM members/supporters noticed several of us tweeting under the hashtag. So they jumped in thinking this was about Native Mascotry. I myself thought that Colbert had actually done something to support Dan Snyder. I hadn't seen the skit. I stopped early on believing that I needed to get back to addressing the very real problems with Snyder's organization. Also, after I watched the skit and became aware that many, many Native Americans were feeling betrayed. After those events, EONM released two brief tweets stating that we would be supportive, but keeping our focus on #Not4Sale.

"Why is she sidelining what happened to us? Did she know about #Not4Sale? Is she dumb? I thought she was a friend, but this isn't supportive? Does she work for Snyder now? This is childish, if twitter users want to address satirical organization over a real racist organization what has the world come to." are just some of the things I heard and got direct messaged about. This was followed by so many stunned that Suey Park was on Native Trailblazers instead of not one of all the Native Americans angered by "OAF"! Jaw-dropping was a pretty common theme. Was that how far Native Rights activists had been eclipsed, that they weren't even on a Native show?

A tweet Jackie Keeler had made was featured in a Wall Street Journal article by Jeff Yang. It was not making light of Suey Park's actions. Her tweet was only expressing the disparity and proportionality of the response to #CancelColbert vs "OAF" and other Native American rights hashtags. Suey Park attacked the criticism a fair and balanced take on what happened. She called for Jeff Yang to be fired.
#CancelColbert accomplished nothing: Why social change movements must be inclusive

A draining debate has left the fight for awareness and understanding in a worse place. So where do we go from here?

By Anoosh Jorjorian
People of good conscience can disagree about how we get there and what are the right tools. I don’t know a sure path from my past to a future free of anti-Asian prejudice. But at this moment, I can say that the weekend of #CancelColbert did not bring us closer to that future.

By Monday morning, I was left wondering, what have we accomplished? How much coal have we burned by keeping our modems alight and charging the batteries on our laptops and smartphones? At this cost, how many minds have we changed, and how many alliances have we forged to make a better future?

Here’s what I “saw” over social media: A lot of people expend a lot of energy, emotion and time because of a single comedy sketch (one that, for the record, did not offend me personally). I saw long-standing members of Asian American communities who have been working for decades toward that future get blisteringly insulted and attacked. I saw Native Americans wondering how Colbert’s valid point about Dan Snyder doubling down on the 80-year-old football team’s name in service of some cheap P.R. got buried in an avalanche of outraged pro- and anti-AAPI tweets. I saw, predictable as a turning tide, an outpouring of white anger, defensiveness and ridicule. I saw racial epithets explode and hurl around like corn kernels in an air popper.

And I have a bitter, bitter taste in my mouth. Colbert’s satirical Ching-Chong Ding-Dong joke references familiar ground, the kind of belittling and insults that Asian Americans are accustomed to hearing from white folks. But an internecine fight of this scale cuts deep, and the wound to Asian American communities will take far longer to heal than it took Park to initiate it. (The first efforts toward healing have centered around the #BuildDontBurn hashtag.)

Jeff Yang wrote a smart, thoughtful article on the limits of Hashtag Activism. For this, Suey Park tweeted that he was less of a friend to her than Fox commentator Michelle Malkin, notorious conservative and defender of the Japanese internment. Park has certainly borne the brunt of the storm generated by her campaign, however. The crest of the Twitter backlash featured the now-routine gendered discipline: death and rape threats.
I'm Not Your Disappearing Indian

By Jacqueline Keeler[L]ast Thursday, it happened again, this time it was the folks on social media trending #CancelColbert and completely forgetting about Dan Snyder and the real foundation to promote the racial slur Redsk*ns. Once again, ostensibly about us, but of the issue garnered no real attention until it fell in someone else’s hands and then they, once again, forgot about us.

No, it wasn’t Stephen Colbert who forgot about us, nor was is "Stephen Colbert," a character played by comedian Stephen Colbert, to satirize the extreme insensitivity of Republican conservatism. His show, The Colbert Report did a whole skit skewering Dan Snyder, billionaire owner of the Washington Redsk*ns, and Snyder's new Original Americans Foundation (OAF), exposing it--through satire--as a blatant attempt to use charity to provide cover for his NFL team’s racist name. It was the hashtaggers, PoC (People of Color) and progressives, our own allies on Twitter who trended the hashtag #CancelColbert in response to the fictional foundation’s name featured in the skit. And yet, Dan Snyder’s real foundation promoting an ethnic slur against us, a foundation that actually exists, failed to garner even a tiny fraction of outrage by the same group. In fact, in her Time Magazine article that followed the enormous success of #CancelColbert, hashtag originator Suey Park failed to mention Snyder’s foundation at all. She certainly did not mention the Native hashtag protesting it #Not4Sale, despite it being covered by Mike Wise at the Washington Post and Al Jazeera America’s The Stream just days before. Only one reporter, Jeff Yang of the Wall Street Journal included any mention of Native responses to it.

Could you imagine national coverage of #CancelColbert or the previous trending hashtag promoted by the Asian American community #‎NotYourAsianSidekick without interviewing any Asian Americans? Or without any mention of the creators of the hashtag like Suey Park?

Obviously, #CancelColbert did not lead to the canceling of The Colbert Report, and in a New Yorker interview Ms. Park claimed she never intended for the show to be cancelled; furthermore, she had never even viewed the actual skit, and had reacted to a tweet (since deleted) without understanding the original joke to which it referred. What’s most frustrating to me is that a deleted tweet garnered more outrage than the actual existence of a foundation to promote a slur against Native Americans. A foundation announced just days after the U.S. Patent Office, reasoning that the word is a racist epithet, refused to grant a trademark to "Washington Redsk*ns Potatoes"! A potato has more rights than Native people do! (And yes, there is a Native hashtag for it--#NotYourPotato--and no, our allies on Twitter have not trended it.)

How #NotYourMascot Passed Me By, and How I was Wrong For Letting It

By ReappropriateAs an Asian American, and as a person who is dedicated to anti-racist activism, I am always at danger of focusing too much onto my own work; it is my duty to remember that I share a mutual goal with other people of colour in wanting to see an end to racism and racial discrimination in our world. And while our specific foci, angles and tactics might differ (as well it should), it is essential that we push back against our own tendencies to become too specialized, too factionalized and too isolated from one another. Instead we must reach out to one another, work together, form alliances and recognize our common goals. We must allow our individual efforts to integrate with one another rather than to interfere with one another; only by doing so can we hope to achieve a critical mass of anti-racist work that can challenge institutionalized racism and white supremacy.

That it took me this long to say something about #NotYourMascot is my fault, and for that I apologize.

#NotYourMascot is a common sense fight, one that by itself deserved primacy over the last two weeks; one that did not deserve to be distracted from. #NotYourMascot is a fight for anyone who wants to see the world less racist, a world where we don’t treat people of colour like mascots, where we respect Native people in particular and all people of colour, in general.

In short, #NotYourMascot is not just “a Native issue” and doesn’t deserve to be treated like one; #NotYourMascot is an issue that deserves full and vocal support from all of us—particularly every person of colour, as well as anyone else who has dedicated ourselves to challenging racism as it manifests around us.
The Real Reason Why Stephen Colbert’s Brand of Racism Should Be Making You Angry #CancelRedskinsThe Stephen Colbert character, in his usual style, has taken the offenses done by others and made them that much more offensive. The show dismantled the offense moniker of Daniel Snyder’s foundation, and rebuilt it with a more visible ethnic group as its target. The result—outrage. At the end of the skit, Stephen Colbert, as a kind of nod to the offensive nature of the skit, makes a request of his audience. “I owe all this sensitivity to Redskin’s owner, Daniel Snyder. So Asians, send your thank you letters to him, not me.”

If you are angry, welcome to the club. Be angry at Stephen Colbert and his show, a show that mirrors and perpetuates the prevalence of racism, classism, and oppression in order to get a laugh. But be more angry at the reality that the Colbert Report mocks. Be angry at Daniel Snyder, the owner of that offensively named Washington team. Be angry that corporate interests (and there are many) continue to make money on histories of genocide and oppression.
I think the final sentiment is one we can all agree on.

My take on #CancelColbert

A lot of people didn't come off well in this conflict. Colbert, for his ill-considered "ching-chong" joke. Suey Park and other activists, for hijacking the debate without addressing the offensive "Redskins." The media, for focusing too much on #CancelColbert and not enough on the underlying cause. Anyone, including liberals, who threatened Park for daring to challenge Colbert and the white status quo.

Nevertheless, I'm not as bothered by the #CancelColbert flap as some Native activists are. Some reasons:

1) From my vantage point as a media observer, I didn't get the sense that the #Not4Sale protest was taking off the way previous Twitter protests had.

2) Even if the #Not4Sale protest did take off, it didn't seem that effective to me. #Not4Sale was too generic; it could've been about almost any cause. Without an explanation, most people wouldn't get the connection between brown-skinned people with dollars on their mouths and the Redskins foundation (OAF).

3) It's not clear to me that the Native activists lost out on anything. Without an event like the Super Bowl or the Oscars to tweet about, the protest was always going to be relatively small. We're talking about a small "Redskins" protest on its own vs. a big #CancelColbert protest with a small "Redskins" protest included. Either way, the "Redskins" portion is small.

In other words...yes, the #CancelColbert coverage may have decreased the coverage the Redskins protest got. But it may have increased the coverage too. There's no way to know.

4) Reappropriate addressed the issue of "intersectionality" above. It's the idea that prejudice against one group affects and should concern everyone. It's something we all need to remember. Yes, Suey Park's #CancelColbert protest derailed Colbert's critique of the Redskins--but her argument about the liberal tolerance of racism has merit.

More to the point, it's relevant to mascot protests. Names and mascots such as "Redskins" don't persist because a small number of conservative racists keep them alive. They persist because many Americans, including liberals, have a broad tolerance for prejudice against minorities, women, and gays. We see this constantly in debates about welfare, immigration, law enforcement, income inequality, and so forth and so on.

Even the tolerance of minor things such as "jokes"--aka microaggressions--is widespread. And that's a problem. Colbert or hipsters or anyone can put on a headdress and say they're being "ironic," and people will give them a pass.

The #CancelColbert protest tried to expose this problem. It tried to show that minorities aren't going to roll over for conservative or liberal white privilege anymore. Until people get that people like Dan Snyder and Stephen Colbert shouldn't be the arbiters of what's offensive, I doubt anything will change.

5) As some people noted, a Twitter campaign is a tactic, not a goal. It helps to raise awareness of an issue, but it rarely causes change by itself. That's especially true when dealing with a major corporation like Disney (#NotYourTonto) or the Washington Redskins.

The best outcome of #Not4Sale would've been an increased awareness of Snyder's PR ploy in creating the Redskins foundation. But the foundation is only a small part of the Redskins brand. In the unlikely event that activists shamed Snyder into ending the foundation, it would've had no effect on the brand overall. Snyder still would've been committed to keeping the name and logo forever.

I'm sure "Redskins" will go away someday, but not because people have criticized the foundation. So nothing was "lost" except a minor opportunity to mock Snyder's tactics. With or without Colbert's input and the #Not4Sale hashtag, the protests will continue until the name is gone.

For more on the subject, see Debating #CancelColbert and Suey Park's Activism.

42nd annual Chief Wahoo protest

Native Americans, others protest Indians’ logo

By Associated PressAs excited baseball fans, many of them wearing Cleveland’s smiling Chief Wahoo logo, headed into Progressive Field for Friday’s home opener, a smaller group stood by unable to share their enthusiasm.

Holding hand-painted signs that read, “We Are Not Honored,” and “Our Children Are Not Mascots,” a contingent of Native Americans and some of their supporters demonstrated against the Indians’ use of their red-faced Wahoo logo.

The protesters, who have been gathering outside the ballpark’s entrances on opening day for years to voice their displeasure about the team’s use of the long-standing logo, stayed behind barricades as Indians fans walked by for the game against the Minnesota Twins.

Robert Roche, executive director of the American Indian Education Center, is adamant the team should abolish the logo permanently.

“The issue is simple,” said the 66-year-old Roche, his hair braided with white threads. “We are not mascots. I’m nobody’s mascot. My children are not mascots. It mocks us as a race of people. It mocks our religion.”
But it was one particular face-off that kicked this story into high gear on the Internet:

Redface has another big day at the ballpark in Cleveland

By Cleveland FrownsAbout 45 minutes before the first pitch of the Cleveland Indians’ home opener on Friday against the Minnesota Twins, I took the below photo just outside of Gate C at Progressive Field, where a protest against the Cleveland team’s name and Chief Wahoo logo was being held by a group organized by the local chapter of the American Indian Movement (AIM).

Pictured at left is Robert Roche, a Chiricahua Apache tribe member, AIM member, Executive Director of the American Indian Education Center in Parma, Ohio, and more. At right is Cleveland Indians baseball fan Pedro Rodriguez, who is not a Native American.

Shortly after snapping the photo I posted it to the Cleveland Frowns Twitter account from where it was quickly picked up by a number of national outlets, including Deadspin, Fox Sports, NBC Sports, SB Nation, Sports Illustrated, USA Today, and Yahoo. Scene’s Sam Allard, who also witnessed this confrontation, posted some pictures of his own along with a first-person account and roundup of responses to the anti-Wahoo protesters.

"It's Not Racist!" And Other Responses to Wahoo Protesters at Home Opener

By Sam AllardThe crazy thing about this afternoon's protest in general and the encounter above specifically was the lengths to which the Pro-Wahoo crowd is prepared to go (and here I primarily mean logical lengths) to deny the legitimacy of those offended by the logo.

The staunch, redfaced Rodriguez refused to acknowledge that the Native American man standing before him—Robert Roche, of the Apache Nation—could possibly take offense. Rorche literally told him he was offended by Chief Wahoo and the use of tribal feathers and redface, and Rodriguez just kept shaking his head.

It's actually a shame for the civil Wahoo supporters that their comrades put on such an embarrassing and primitive display this afternoon. Only twice in three hours did Pro-Wahoo folks talk politely with the protesters about the root of their opposition and try to explain their own difficulties with the dehumanizing logo. (One man turned his Wahoo hat around as a little peace offering).

For the most part, though, passers-by hurled insults. A handful of boozy risk-takers sporting "Keep the Chief" tees walked directly in front of those holding signs, to taunt. Others distributed individual middle-fingers to each protester while inviting them to fuck themselves. Others launched the familiar hate speech—"Go back to the reservation," etc.
Cleveland American Indian Education Center’s Robert Roche: “Don’t Honor Us!”

By Levi RickertRobert Roche has been involved with the Cleveland urban American Indian organization since his college days some 45 years ago. He is now the executive director of the American Indian Education Center, which once was the Cleveland American Indian Center.

As a young man, he met American Indian Movement leader Russell Means, who was running the Cleveland American Indian Center then. He became good friends with Means. Even way back then the American Indian community in Cleveland opposed the name of the Cleveland major league baseball name. The organization filed a lawsuit to have the name changed.

Fast-forward to this past Friday, Roche was still fighting the name. Roche is Chiricahua Apache, the tribe that produced the likes of Geronimo and Cochise.
Video: AIM's ‘Chief Wahoo’ Protest Fights Fans' BacklashThe protest against the Cleveland Indians’ logo, Chief Wahoo, continued in Cleveland yesterday and was captured in a 26-minute video.Chief Wahoo's Waterloo: A Photo from Protests Outside the Indians' Home Opener Goes Viral and the Debate Over the Team's Logo Grows

Photo goes viral

Am I a prophet? A time-traveling cartoonist? (toon, photo)

By Lalo AlcarazOne of my preferred topics for editorial cartoons has always been American mistreatment of indigenous people. Nothing makes me feel better than dreaming up a solid cartoon that reminds us all about the sordid history of our country’s crimes against Indians. The only thing more satisfying is seeing my ideas validated.

This weekend POCHO Florida Burro Jefe Santino J. Rivera sent me a “heads-up” about a Tweet featuring one of these editorial cartoons. I clicked the link and just about fell out of my chair.

The graphic in the Tweet was a side-by-side presentation of my cartoon showing a Native American confronting an Indian-mascot-garbed sports fan next to a photograph of a Native American confronting an Indian-mascot-garbed sports fan (image, above.)

They are eerily similar. The strange part was that I drew my cartoon in 2002, and the photo was taken last week in Cleveland, home of the Cleveland “Indians.”

My tweet on the subject:

Cleveland Wahoo fans say they're not to blame. They're just imitating Indians like Heidi Klum, Christina Fallin, Harry Styles, Cher, et al.

If seeing a redface caricature face to face with a real Indian doesn't do the trick, nothing will. These articles and images should convince everyone that we're never going to talk people out of their racist beliefs.

Mascot supporters are blind, deaf, and dumb to their own ignorance. They can't argue the facts so they argue their emotions. They're like Christians, children, or dogs whose basic argument is "Because!" (The dog barks his answer, but that's what it amounts to.)

Or as I wrote to one Wahoo lover:

Really? You think protesting this horrible racist stereotype is a matter of "political correctness"? What would it take for Cleveland fans to admit that something is racist: a massacre or lynching with bodies?

What we need to do is influence the media and shame the corporate masters, including advertisers. They're the ones who can stand aloof and make semi-rational decisions.

Student contemplates suicide over Chief Illiniwek

Native American student writes letter to UI administration in an effort to ban the Chief

By Megan JonesAs depicted in a letter sent to University administration last week, Xochitl Sandoval, a Native American student, struggles everyday with the remnants of the University’s former mascot: Chief Illiniwek.

While administrators stopped supporting the Chief in 2007, students and the local community have continued to keep the mascot alive with apparel, accessories and unofficial appearances of the Chief at sporting events. Additionally, the Chief’s performance music, such as the “Three in One,” still plays at sporting events.

“I don’t go to sports events because I know that that is where pro-Chief people will be congregating at and where they will be playing the music,” Sandoval, a senior in LAS, said. “I see Chief T-shirts and even though the official symbol has been removed, there are still people who are able to get their hands on the official logo, and every year Unofficial always has some kind of spin on the Chief.”

Sandoval struggles with the lingering mascot, specifically in regard to the “disrespect and racism” the mascot represents to her.
Indigenous Student Discusses Public Suicide Over Chief Illiniwek Pain

By Vincent SchillingAn indigenous student has written an open letter to University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign administrators and all indigenous and Native peoples of the world saying she wants to commit suicide. She says she would use a gun on the school’s quad because of the painful burden she experiences in dealing with the Chief Illiniwek mascot.

Xochitl Sandoval, an indigenous student at the university, posted the letter on Facebook and explains that the letter is very personal and sacred and about her life and the legacy of disrespect and racism towards herself and the indigenous people who lived on this land and who continue to bear the unbelievable burden of having to fight for respect.

In a conversation with Sandoval, she said she has no plans to harm herself, but she was at her last wit’s end and thought, “What else can I do? I will condense my lived experience in a letter since nothing else has changed.”

In the letter Sandoval states the following:

“On March 11, I had the thought that I should commit suicide. On March 11, 2014, I specifically thought ‘blow your brains out on the quad.’ My process was as follows: Write a letter to Mr. Jamie (the UIUC Director of the Native American House) and explain that this whole Chief situation was so unbearable, and the apathy on behalf of Administration so painful, that it was obvious that nothing was going to change. Maybe suicide was the way. I would then purchase a gun, load it, go onto the quad, stand facing Union, bring the gun up to my temple, and pull the trigger.

Maybe by committing suicide, you, Chancellor Phyllis Wise, the Board of Trustees, and the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign Administration will realize that no, I am not exaggerating about the emotional, physical and spiritual pain that seeing the former-yet-still-lingering Chief mascot has on me.”

April 03, 2014

Debating #CancelColbert

#CancelColbert turns ugly: Why does it make white people so angry to talk about race?

People can disagree about #CancelColbert. But why's the response always so vile when people try to talk about race?

By Katie McDonough
Feel whatever you’d like about #CancelColbert (Brittney Cooper’s take is well worth your time), but those in the camp defending a television host’s (failed) attempt to satirize racism may want to ask themselves why they aren’t equally outraged by the racism and misogyny being hurled at the woman behind the conversation.

Suey Park is a writer and activist, but follow most of the conversation around #CancelColbert and you will read that she is a “hashtag activist” — a coded bit of language meant to communicate that she is not a person who should be taken seriously. (Follow what’s going on in Park’s Twitter mentions and you will see that a frightening number of people believe much worse.)

HuffPost Live invited Park to do a segment Friday morning, but rather than discuss what makes for good satire or mention the racist and misogynistic responses Park received (and tweeted about) while trending the hashtag, host Josh Zepps asked her if she understood comedy and called her opinions “stupid.” After a tense exchange with Zepps, Park said that she was done—that she wasn’t going to entertain inquiries about her intelligence or motives when the question of racism was not being taken seriously. Zepps seemed all too happy to oblige; he said a chipper goodbye and promptly cut her feed, prompting W. Kamau Bell to tweet that Zepps “reigns down the full weight of his #WhitePrivilege” during the segment.

Dave Weigel, who was critical of the hashtag from the start, weighed in at Slate to insinuate Park is somehow bullying Comedy Central—a television behemoth owned by a media behemoth—and question her activist bona fides:The network had made a powerful hashtag enemy, as Park reminded it. This was her work. She started hashtags like Comedy Central started six-episode sketch shows. The Guardian had placed her in a list of the “top 30 young people in digital media,” No. 12, right below “Kid President.” Her Facebook fan page and Twitter account provided information on how to book her, because she “speaks on race/gender and social media” and is a “board member of Activist Milennials.”He also seemed comfortable parroting a common right-wing cop-out, suggesting that when you bring the word “racist” into a conversation, it’s no longer a conversation—it’s a knife fight:As [hashtag activists] explained in 140-character bursts, when a white comedian like Colbert joked about racism by playing a racist, he was still telling his audience to laugh at a racist joke. Anyone who disputed this was trying to “whitesplain” satire—an argument that can never be debunked. You can laugh at being told to “check your privilege,” but hearing that plants an idea that you can’t shake. (This is not necessarily a bad thing, even though this particular hashtag was born midair above a shark.) And if it brings fame and clout to activists who have not really done anything to win your attention previously, that’s a sweet fringe benefit.Weigel is free to disagree with Park, but to question her legitimacy because she has different credentials than he does is plainly offensive. And it’s uncomfortable, put mildly, to see an established white male journalist suggest that an activist and writer of color hasn’t “done anything” to “win your attention.”
Why we fight about Colbert and Lena Dunham: Twitter politics are all we have left

Yes, social media's culture wars can get overheated and silly—because "real" politics is totally broken

By Andrew O'Hehir
First of all, I don’t get to tell people not to be offended by a joke or a tweet or some potentially revealing public gaffe, just because I think I understood it better than they did. Personally, I think Stephen Colbert’s biggest sin in the dubious “Sensitivity to Orientals” gag that sparked so much Internet navel-gazing on Friday is that it’s overworked and not very funny. It was a satirical jab directed at both Rush Limbaugh and Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder that was highly dependent on context; stripped of that context by the de-nuancing machine of Twitter, it came uncomfortably close to the kind of yahoo-flavored racist ugliness it was mocking. And, Stephen, that joke was never worth the risk in the first place. What we have here is a failure of comedy cost-benefit analysis.

But in this case, as in dozens of others of public discourse gone off the rails, I don’t have the right to instruct Asian-Americans or other commentators about whether or not they have been injured or insulted or attacked, or whether Colbert has something to apologize for. Let’s back up a year, to the 2013 Oscars: From the comfort of my sofa, I thought Seth MacFarlane’s “We Saw Your Boobs” musical number was pretty funny, and that its satirical intention, a takedown of Hollywood sexism and the “male gaze,” was clear enough. But the signal-to-noise ratio of MacFarlane’s shtick turned out to be way off, and millions of viewers received it in the opposite spirit, as a smug white dude making juvenile and offensive jokes about women’s bodies. So in that sense I was wrong. I’m still entitled to my private analysis, of course, but as a social event it wasn’t “funny” at all.

That might sound like I’m adopting a pose of excessive postmodern caution, or being the bearded dude in Birkenstocks who goes to the feminist bookstore to pick up chicks. But it’s more like an important lesson about life in a multivocal and diverse public culture, a lesson that, yes, white guys with media megaphones would do well to take seriously. Each of us needs to remember that our own subjectivity is not a universal condition, and that it was shaped by social and cultural forces we can’t necessarily see. Without any perception of your own possible or actual privilege and bias, you risk becoming the notorious Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, utterly convinced that you are an enlightened and reasonable person and deeply, hilariously wrong.
My white liberal frenemies: When Twitter exchanges reveal untrustworthy allies

Once again, the Colbert flap reminds us that it's not just white conservatives who traffic in supremacy online

By Brittney Cooper
Nothing made this point about the complicated nature of interaction with white liberals more apparent than last week’s Huffington Post Live interview with host Josh Zepps and Suey Park, the Twitter activist who trended #CancelColbert.

In the interview Park explains that the calls to cancel Stephen Colbert’s show were largely tactical. I suspected that, which is one reason I had no trouble supporting the campaign. But Suey also explained that one of the reasons the Colbert joke did not work is because it was a joke about race from a white liberal largely intended to pique the consciousness of other white liberals.

Unfortunately, Josh Zepps demonstrated just how dangerous unthoughtful liberalism can be in his interview with Park; he sneered at her and mocked her for the entire five minutes and even called her opinion stupid. Zepps felt threatened by Park’s analysis, he got emotional, and he verbally attacked her.

I think Suey’s call-out of white liberal complicity in this matter is exactly right. Though I am a big fan of Colbert’s show and though I know many people of color who are—one of my best homegirls from college is the person who turned me on to the show years ago—based on the passionate way in which Colbert’s defenders ran roughshod over many people of color to defend him, I wonder if I have been watching a show that ultimately does not have me in mind as it conceives its audience, even though I’m supposed to believe that satire has my best interest at heart.

I get the sense from at least a few of the Colbert apologists that I’m supposed to be happy with Colbert for the deftness with which he addresses most race issues. I’m supposed to be happy, and I’m supposed to shut up.

He’s one of the good guys.

Look. I suspect Stephen Colbert is one of the good guys. I just don’t know what that has to do with whether he messed up in this instance. Liberal political commitments do not make one’s race politics above reproach, because such arguments traffic in the fallacy that racism only happens if it is intentional.
On #CancelColbert and the Limits of 'Liberal Pass' Humor

By Arturo R. García[This] problem has plagued both The Colbert Report and its sister show, The Daily Show, for years: the notion that they constitute Liberal Passes for many of their fans and/or defenders. That, because the two shows mostly pick on conservative politicians or “The Media,” their viewers are progressive by default. No doubt some of these people are also quite happy to tell you these days that they Love Science because they watch Cosmos; after all, it even has a Black person in it!

As Mia McKenzie at Black Girl Dangerous puts it:

Where are these theoretical people who were racist until they watched “Colbert,” or “SNL,” or “Chelsea Lately,” or any other show that uses white racial satire, and had their racist minds changed? Do we really believe these people exist? Do we really believe there were hella people watching Colbert’s skit about Dan Snyder’s awful foundation who had their minds changed about it as soon as Asian slurs were thrown into the mix?

Thus, if Park is to be criticized for being supported in public by Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin, what does it say about Colbert that these are the types of sentiments expressed in his defense? ... [D]o these sound like people who are rushing to center Native American activism?
To reiterate García's points, who exactly would not get the mountains of criticism of the Redskins name, but would get it when Colbert compared the Redskins Foundation to the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation? Someone who's deaf and blind to Native criticism but completely sensitive to Asian criticism?

If this tiny group of people even exists, what are the odds that Colbert's "joke" would reach them? What are the much greater odds that the Asian "satire" would offend people who don't like racism in any form?

And if all of Colbert's fans "get it," why are they so vociferously attacking Suey Park and defending Colbert? Wouldn't a proper response be more like, "I disagree with your interpretation of Colbert's joke, but I agree that racism against Natives and Asians is an ongoing problem that we're not doing enough to combat."

The self-satisfied white privilege of Colbert's fans is glaring: "We get the joke, so we don't have to do anything else to fight racism. We get it so much that we can attack racial advocates who are doing the hard work of challenging the status quo while we pat ourselves on the back for our awareness."

Stewart, like Colbert

A related postings tells us more about "liberal racism":

Jon Stewart cursed me out: I dared question a “Daily Show” warm-up comic’s racist jokes

I asked why a "Daily Show" warm-up targeted African-Americans and a woman in a wheelchair. The host wasn't happy

By Alison Kinney
Jon Stewart came onstage to take a couple questions from the audience.

I believed in him. I believed in the subversive political humor of his show; I believed that he was delivering messages in a way the mainstream news media should take notice of. I believed that somebody had to speak for the scapegoats, and that a live-audience question to the boss would change things more effectively than a letter to the network. I believed that, if Stewart knew that his warm-up comic had been making invasive, racist gibes about a black couple’s sex life, he couldn’t possibly countenance it.

So I raised my hand and asked, “Why does your warm-up comedian use ethnic humor?”

In retrospect, I should have phrased it more accurately: Why does your show use a comedian whose politics and belief system are so clearly at odds with the show’s? Why is this kind of prejudice being associated with “The Daily Show”? But I was nervous; I didn’t rehearse my question beforehand; I felt I had no time to lose. My tone wasn’t combative, only curious. I didn’t see Stewart as a big media producer on a schedule: I saw him as a person who cared, who asked the same kind of questions I believed in asking.

Stewart’s face creased with annoyance. He said, shortly, loudly, glaring at me, “BECAUSE. IT’S. FUCKING. FUNNY.” The audience erupted into wild applause.
I'd guess Colbert and Stewart have an attitude similar to Seth MacFarlane of Family Guy and Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park. Namely, that they feel it's okay to use stereotypes to make fun of stereotypes. That the "satire" label turns whatever they do from straight-out racism to a spoof of straight-out racism in their own minds.

And I'd guess that comes from being privileged white men surrounded by like-minded people. The kind of people who wear Indian headdresses and cheer Indian mascots because "they don't have a racist bone in their bodies." In other words, because being hip gives them a pass to do the same things conservatives do, but claim it's "ironic."

For more on the subject, see Debating Colbert's "Ching-Chong" Joke and Colbert's Joke vs. Mascot Satires.

Suey Park's activism

The person and motivation behind the #CancelColbert hashtag:

The Campaign to "Cancel" Colbert

By Jay Caspian KangAt its best, #NotYourAsianSidekick provides a channel for thousands of Asian-American women and their allies to discuss the tokenism that so often accompanies broad conversations about diversity in this country. Dissatisfied with the idea of a “seat at the table,” Park uses social media to facilitate a self-contained conversation among Asian-Americans that does not require any explanation or translation of our shared cultural norms. The ultimate significance of a string of tweets can always be questioned, but that a hashtag conversation on Twitter could have such resonance speaks to just how desperate Asian-Americans have been to talk about identity without deferring to the familiar binaries that shape most discussions of race in this country.

#CancelColbert could be seen as a similar attempt to carve out space for Asian-Americans to discuss something that has nothing to do with parody, Daniel Snyder, or the good intentions of “The Colbert Report.” There’s a long tradition in American comedy of dumping tasteless jokes at the feet of Asians and Asian-Americans that follows the perception that we will silently weather the ridicule. If I were to predict which minority group the writers of a show like “The Colbert Report” would choose for an edgy, epithet-laden parody, I’d grimace and prepare myself for some joke about rice, karate, or broken English. The resulting discomfort has nothing to do with the intentions of the joke or the political views of the people laughing at it. Even when you want to be in on the joke—and you understand, intellectually, that you are not the one being ridiculed—it’s hard not to wonder why these jokes always come at the expense of those least likely to protest.

In our conversation, Park admitted that despite the hashtag’s command, she did not want “The Colbert Report” to be cancelled. “I like the show,” she said. Instead, she said, she saw the hashtag as a way to critique white liberals who use forms of racial humor to mock more blatant forms of racism. “Well-intentioned racial humor doesn’t actually do anything to end racism or the Redskins mascot,” Park told me. “That sort of racial humor just makes people who hide under the title of progressivism more comfortable.”

It’s important to note here that Suey Park identifies herself as an activist, and does not make any claim to objectivity or fairness. #CancelColbert might have rankled and annoyed people who got Colbert’s joke, but Park says that the point of the “movement” was to argue that white liberals who routinely condemn what she called “worse racism” will often turn a blind eye to, or even defend, more tacit forms of prejudice, especially when they come from someone who shares their basic political beliefs. “The response shows the totality of white privilege,” Park said. “They say, ‘Suey is trying to take away a show we enjoy, so we’re going to start a petition to take away her First Amendment rights and make rape threats.’ All this happens because they were worried that a show they enjoyed might be taken away.”
#CancelColbert activist Suey Park: “This is not reform, this is revolution”

The 23-year-old comedian, writer and activist tells Salon what she wanted from #CancelColbert

By Prachi Gupta
OK. But you used this specific joke as a platform to have that conversation. Why was that?

It’s a tool. [Our conversation was interrupted here. Park excused herself and called back a few minutes later.]

Do you want to continue your thought?

Yes, because I think this is important. A lot of white America and so-called liberal people of color, along with conservatives, ask, “Do I understand context?” And that’s part of wanting to completely humanize the oppressor. To see the white man as always reasonable, always pure, always deliberate, always complex and always innocent. And to see the woman of color as literal. Both my intent behind the hashtag and in my [unintelligible] distance, is always about forcing an apology on me for not understanding their context when, in reality, they misunderstood us when they made us a punch line again. So it’s always this logic of how can we understand whiteness better, and that’s never been my politics. I’ve always been about occupying the margins and strengthening the margins and what that means is that, for a long time, whiteness has also occupied the margins. Like, people of color get in circles with no white people in the room and we see that whiteness still operates. So I think it’s kind of a shock for America that whiteness has dominant society already, it also seeps into the margins. What happens the one time when the margins seep into the whiteness and we encroach on their space? It’s like the sky is falling.

Do you think race has a place in comedy? Is it OK to joke about race, and if so, under what circumstances?

I mean, I don’t think people realize what I write about. I write a lot of comedy myself, I write scripts, I write jokes about race all the time, but I think they’re supposed to make a social commentary. A cheap joke is hitting a trope of a minority in order to get a point across. I think a better joke is to point to the depths and the roots of white supremacy, not simply joking about the Ku Klux Klan, not simply joking about Dan Snyder. But actually, like, when are we actually going to have these conversations about how white supremacy has caused Orientalism, slavery and genocide? When will we actually touch on those big things? And I don’t think that we’ve seen that yet in comedy, and I do think it’s possible, but no one is ready to flip the switch to make the white person the subject of the archetype.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Debating Colbert's "Ching-Chong" Joke and Colbert's Joke vs. Mascot Satires.

Throat singer threatened over "sealfie"

Tanya Tagaq #sealfie provokes anti-sealing activists

'It's just complete harassment. It's not OK,' says the throat-singer and performerMusician Tanya Tagaq posted a picture of her baby next to a dead seal near her home town of Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, and got more than she bargained for in return.

"It became quite hurtful,” Tagaq said. “Right now, actually there's a woman who has my picture up on her Twitter and the things that people are saying about myself and my baby. It's just complete harassment. It's not OK."

Tagaq said she doesn't know the woman. She says the woman posted an online petition to have Tagaq's children taken from her.

Tagaq said she's not considering legal action against the online harassment.
Inuit #SEALFIE trend sparks death threats for throat singer Tanya Tagaq

Comment:  For more on the subject, see "Sealfies" vs. Ellen's Selfie.

April 02, 2014

De-Chiefing the Cleveland Indians

As another baseball season begins, activists are gearing up to give Chief Wahoo the same treatment they've given the Washington Redskins.

100 Years of Insult: Ban the Cleveland Indians Name and Logo

By Michelle JacobsWords are powerful because they conjure images and ideas. The “Indians” team name was adopted because it evoked particular meanings for sports enthusiasts--aggression, bravery, dedication, and pride. Such images of American Indians seem honorable when American history is ignored. The fact is that references to Indian “aggression” were used to justify the genocide and colonization of U.S. indigenous peoples. That reference now puts a different spin on the use of “Indians” as an athletic team name--one that exists alongside aggressive animals, like Lions, Tigers, and Bears.

Calling Cleveland’s professional baseball team the “Indians” does not only equate American Indian people with ferocious animals in the symbolic realm. It affects the everyday lives of American Indians because stereotypical ideas about Indians, embedded in the culture for hundreds of years, have replaced genuine concerns for the identities, communities, and cultures of American Indian people. The treatment of American Indian protestors outside the Cleveland baseball stadium illustrates this point. Protestors witness first-hand how the purportedly "harmless" team name causes baseball fans to callously disregard the history and humanity of American Indian people. They angrily yell insults like "Go back to where you came from!" and "We won, so get lost!” at protestors. They also don feathers and face paint for entertainment purposes, although these items are sacred to American Indian people. Fans supporting their much adored “Tribe” simultaneously snub their noses at (or flip the bird to) actual Indians struggling to convey a simple message: We are people, not mascots.
Time to banish all Native American mascots, including Chief Wahoo

By Cynthia ConnollyConsidering the Cleveland Indians name began just 25 years after the Wounded Knee Massacre, I’m not entirely sure what part of history this mascot (Chief Wahoo) is trying to honor. To put this into perspective, there will never be a time when it’s OK for sports teams in Germany to be called the Jews.

In a 2012 interview, Bob DiBiasio, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs for the Cleveland Indians commented that fans do not associate the logo with actual Native Americans. He stated, “When people look at our logo, we believe they think baseball.” This is troublesome considering it is impossible to honor a group of people if one does not even think about them. DiBiasio’s statement makes it clear that the mascot is not intended to honor or represent anything; it is simply a brand and marketing tool for Cleveland baseball.

However, Native people cannot afford to serve as the brand for sports teams. Not when in 2010 the Pine Ridge Reservation declared a state of emergency due to unprecedented youth suicide rates. Not when Native women are 2.5 times more likely to be raped. Not when Natives have the highest poverty rate than any other race in this country.

The use of Native mascots generates a great deal of apathy, making it difficult for anyone to take our socio-economic issues seriously when all they know are costume headdresses, the tomahawk chop, and Chief Wahoo. We simply cannot allow America use our name and image whenever and however they choose for their entertainment. Especially when they don’t even think of us. They only think of baseball.

Words plus action

People aren't just analyzing why Chief Wahoo and other mascots are wrong, they're taking action:

Cleveland Councilman Zack Reed says Chief Wahoo is the 'red Sambo,' calls for city to ban logo from public spaces (VIDEO)

By Leila AtassiCleveland City Councilman Zack Reed is calling for the city to ban the display of the Cleveland Indians’ mascot Chief Wahoo on public property, arguing that the grinning, Native American mascot is the red equivalent of the racist, turn-of-the century “Sambo” caricature.

During the miscellaneous comments portion of Monday night’s council meeting, Reed said that he has been barraged by emails and phone calls from worldwide associates since the seemingly perennial controversy over Wahoo erupted in the news in recent weeks. The world outside of Cleveland, Reed said, sees Wahoo as an unquestionably racist and demeaning icon.

“(Wahoo supporters) may say that inside Cleveland, 90 percent say ‘keep it,’” Reed said. “But they don’t tell you that outside of our footprint, the vast majority of people believe it should go.”
And:Johnson pre-empted the usual criticism that city officials should spend their time worrying about more pressing matters, such as “homicides, chuckholes and empty houses.”

He said that he remembers when society made the same arguments about Sambo and Jim Crow and other racially denigrating iconography.

But today, after the great sacrifices made in the name of the Civil Rights movement, “no one would dare place an African American caricature on a sports team,” he said.

“So is this as important as homicides?” Johnson said. “Yes. Because it deals with the death of character and the disrespect of a people. Even if they don’t find it insensitive, I do. And that’s why I think it’s time to retire Chief Wahoo.”
Hail To De-Chiefing

Some fans are quietly removing Chief Wahoo logos from apparel they've bought

By Paul Lukas
The Cleveland Indians' home opener is Friday afternoon, and many fans will no doubt show up wearing Indians jerseys and caps. But at least some of those fans may be wearing Indians gear that they've modified in a very specific way: by removing the Chief Wahoo logo.

This is the "de-Chiefing" phenomenon, a form of silent protest by a small but growing number of Indians fans who love their team but are opposed to the Wahoo logo, which they view as an offensive caricature. They say they're not accusing pro-Wahoo fans of being racists or telling them what they should or shouldn't wear. They've simply made a decision not to wear the Chief themselves.

De-Chiefing has been taking place under the radar for at least a few years now, and it's not clear who started it. But the practice first began attracting public attention a few weeks ago, when an Indians fan named Dennis Brown was preparing to visit the team's spring training facility in Goodyear, Ariz., and tweeted a photo showing how he'd removed the Wahoo sleeve patch from his jersey, leaving a Wahoo-shaped scar on the sleeve:
Brown's tweet quickly generated reaction among pro- and anti-Wahoo factions on social media. ... A few days later a new Twitter account called @DeChiefWahoo appeared (it's not clear who runs it) and began encouraging like-minded fans to share photos of their Wahoo-less gear.Demonstrators to target Chief Wahoo at Cleveland Indians home opener

By Mark NaymikNative Americans and others who believe the Cleveland Indians' mascot, Chief Wahoo, is a demeaning caricature plan to demonstrate outside Progressive Field on Friday during the baseball team's home opener.

Organizers behind the demonstration have tried to rally people against Wahoo on opening day for more than 20 years, though team owners and baseball fans have generally ignored them. In some years, only a handful of demonstrators have stood with signs against Wahoo.

Organizers hope to find greater support this year because of the renewed attention Wahoo has received in the growing national debate over sports mascots and names sparked by the NFL's Washington Redskins' controversy.

The Plain Dealer editorial board recently called on the Cleveland Indians' owners to drop the smiling, big-toothed, big-nosed cartoon Indian, which has been used for more than 60 years.

Film festivals want Drunktown's Finest

Some tidbits about Drunktown's Finest by writer/director Sydney Freeland:

The Native Film Every Festival Wants

By Alex JacobsWhen last we checked in on Drunktown's Finest, a film about Gallup, New Mexico, starring such young Native talent as Jeremiah Bitsui, Carmen Moore, Morningstar Angeline and Kiowa Gordon, the movie was at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

Things are going well for Drunktown's Finest. Things are also going well for director Sydney Freeland, who's seeing the payoff from a project that took her six years to make. Post-Sundance, she spoke with ICTMN Santa Fe arts expert Alex Jacobs.

A Navajo director and lead actors, with so many Native actors and actresses, a large Native crew, on location in Gallup and the Navajo Rez, where so many Hollywood films were shot. You have to love this project just from the sound of it. Please tell us your version of this story of how the movie project started?

Growing up, I never felt that I saw any of the people or places I knew represented on film. On a really basic level, I wanted tell a story about that.

However, I also wanted to show how diverse the reservation is. That led to the creation of three main characters. They all represent different communities on the rez and we get to see how they all interact and intersect with each other.

As Native people, we all have heard these stories about Gallup, the Navajo Rez, the 4 Corners as boonies and wasteland, the border-town mentality of Indians and non-Indians. So we can imagine our own script playing out, but we would probably fight stereotypes with other stereotypes. What does it take to properly tell a story about all that history, all these generational issues, to an outside world that really doesn’t care … mostly because they think they already know?

One of the most valuable things I got out of the Sundance Labs was the idea that story is paramount. Because of this, I really tried to put my focus on telling a good story and making relatable characters. My thinking is, if I can get people to relate to these characters and their respective struggles then all that other stuff will work itself out.

That was the overall goal, but there were smaller ideas that I tried to play with. For example, it’s always struck me that a lot of films tend to portray Natives as just sitting around doing nothing, almost waiting for Western or Non-native people to show up. One thing I tried to do with this film was to drop the audience into a world that was already “in progress,” and force them to catch up (instead of vice versa). Hopefully, this adds a little bit of dimension to the community and its characters.

The film's original title was Dry Lake--did your decision to change it to Drunktown's Finest cause any controversy?

The title has a lot of personal meaning to me. I was in elementary school when 20/20 did the “Drunktown, USA” expose. But I remember wondering “why is this big film crew coming into town and they’re just filming the drunks? Why don’t they film my dad, or my friends, or my auntie and uncle? They’re all doing good stuff and they’re not drunks.”

What’s next for you as a director?

I have a sci-fi, time-travel film I’m working on. It’s pretty much a 180 from Drunktown and I’m looking forward to jumping back into the writing process. I also have a TV pilot I’m developing with a writing partner, Steven Paul Judd.

April 01, 2014

Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims


By Debbie ReeseRush Limbaugh's book, Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims is a best seller. That status means he is on the Children's Book Council's (CBC) list of contenders for Author of the Year. People in children's literature were shocked when they saw his name on the list. Some suggested that the best selling status was not legitimate. The CBC responded with an open letter explaining why Limbaugh is on the list:The Author of the Year and Illustrator of the Year finalists are determined solely based on titles’ performances on the bestseller lists--all titles in those categories are listed as a result of this protocol. Some of you have voiced concerns over the selection of finalists from bestseller lists, which you feel are potentially-manipulable indications of the success of a title. We can take this into consideration going forward, but cannot change our procedure for selecting finalists after the fact.As for the book itself:Of interest to me is the character, Freedom, in Limbaugh's book. Mr. Revere loves her name. She has long black hair. One day she wears a blue feather, the next day she wears a yellow one. Other students don't like her, but Mr. Revere is intrigued by her. She has dark eyes and a determined stare. She speaks "from somewhere deep within." From her grandfather, she learned how to track animals. She and Mr. Revere's horse, Liberty, can read each other's minds. Liberty can also talk, which I gather from reviews, is what children like about the book. Freedom explains that he must be a spirit animal, that "there is an Indian legend about animals that can talk to humans." She wondered if Mr. Revere was "a great shaman" when she saw Revere and Liberty enter the time travel portal.

What is behind Limbaugh's creation of a Native American girl named Freedom?

Later in the story, we learn that her mother (we never learn of a specific tribe for Freedom or her mother) named her Freedom because she was born on the fourth of July. Let's think about that for a minute. There are obvious factual errors in the book related to Limbaugh's presentation of slavery. With his character, Freedom, we see how fiction can be manipulated in the service of a particular ideology. Limbaugh is creating a modern day Native girl as someone who holds the same views as he does. Packed into, and around, his Native character are many stereotypes of Native peoples. Does he cast her in that way so that it isn't only White people who view history as he does?

I think so. He casts Squanto and Samoset that way, too.
Some reviews from Amazon.com:This monstrosity of a book is nothing but Rush Limbaugh portraying himself and his talking horse, Liberty, as American heroes in this sniveling, biased, and corny book that purposely uses simple language so "Rush Revere" can do his best to create his own army of Super-Republicans out of easily influential 4th-7th Graders, and to train them to his personal beliefs.

If you want to allow your kids to form their own opinions with truthful facts and accurate depictions of history, then do not buy this book. It is appalling this could be published as a legitimate book. Talk about propaganda! This book is like training a child to be a robot and have no thoughts of their own. Please save the next generation from the brand of manipulative, deceitful (even hateful) propaganda Rush Limbaugh sells.

The first and last book by Limbaugh that I will read. He neglects to share what terrible things were done to the Native Americans. There land was stolen from them, there population was diminished by disease and being slaughtered. They were robbed of their lands and freedom. I guess that point is not important.

Historically, it was inaccurate, which really bothers me, as the premise of the book is to bring history to life. It is also full of jabs towards a certain political party that are completely unnecessary and have nothing to do with the story in the book. I am really disappointed with this book. Definitely not one I will be sharing with my children.

Yes, we certainly want a man who flunked out of college to teach history to American children. Why bother hiring qualified teachers in schools?
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Limbaugh Lies About Thanksgiving and Limbaugh: Indians = "Redskins," "Clowns."


Indianz.com presents Redskinz.com:

Redskinz Day April 1, 2014I love Indian Country so much, I bought it! -- Dan SnyderJust me, chillin' with some of my Redskinz. I forget their names but they are all wearing my gear so obviously we are friends. PS: I'm the white guy!


Backhoe -- Navahoe Nation, Windoe Rock, Arizoena
Winter Coats -- For My Lil Redskinz in South Dakota, Just in Time for Summer!
Winter Blankets -- Not infected with smallpox, I promise

March 31, 2014

"Sealfies" vs. Ellen's selfie

'Sealfies' Protest Ellen DeGeneres's Anti-Seal Hunt Stance (TWEETS)Inuit are striking back against her with "#Sealfies," in which people tweet pictures of themselves in sealskin furs to counter DeGeneres's activism against what she calls "one of the most atrocious and inhumane acts against animals allowed by any government."

The protest was promoted early on by Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, an Inuk filmmaker from Iqaluit, Nunavut.

Though she considers herself an "Ellen" fan, she was disappointed when she requested that Samsung donate $1.5 million to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), an organization that is vocally opposed to the seal hunt, after she took the record-breaking "Oscars selfie" with one of the tech giant's phones.

In a blog post on Wednesday, Arnaquq-Baril encouraged people to take pictures of themselves wearing sealskins and to tweet them at DeGeneres's Twitter account with the "#Sealfie" hashtag.

Seal meat is a staple food for Inuit and they should have the right to make a living off their animals just like anyone else, she told The Canadian Press.
And:The hashtag came amid revelations that Inuit go hungry more than any other indigenous people in a developed country.

The Council of Canadian Academies reported that 35 per cent of Inuit households in Nunavut don't have enough food to eat, while 76 per cent of preschoolers skip meals and 60 per cent have gone a day without eating.

Inuit Flood Twitter With 'Sealfies' After Ellen DeGeneres Selfie Funds Hunt Haters

By David P. BallA month after Ellen DeGeneres tweeted her record-breaking celebrity-laden selfie during the Oscars on March 2—now surpassing 3.4 million retweets—Samsung's $1.5-million donation to an anti-seal hunting organization has sparked a new viral meme.

What started with a teenager’s video explaining Inuit lifeways to the star has morphed into a twitter hashtag answering “selfie” with “sealfie,” as social media–savvy Inuit—who have for millennia depended on seals for meat, clothing and trade—fire back with their own hashtag featuring photos of them garbed in seal fur coats, mittens, boots and shawls. DeGeneres, fans and Twitter followers were elated when Samsung pledged to donate copy for every retweet of DeGeneres's Oscars selfie to a charity of her choice. The trouble started when the star, who hosted the Academy Awards, designated $1.5 million for the Humane Society of the United States, an organization that campaigns strongly against the seal hunt in Canada.

The online trend was sparked after Iqaluit teenager Killaq Enuaraq-Strauss, 17, uploaded a March 23 video to YouTube imploring DeGeneres to reconsider her choice of the Humane Society of the U.S. as a designated charity for Samsung's post-Oscar donation.

“We do not hunt seals, or any animal for that matter, for fashion,” Enuaraq-Strauss said in the video. “We hunt to survive. If Canada were to ban the seal hunt, so many families would suffer, would face harsher forms of malnutrition, and wouldn't be able to afford proper clothing for the Arctic environment we live in. Even more so, another part of our culture would have been killed.”

The week in #sealfiesInuit and others across northern Canada have taken to social media to post #sealfies, or photos of themselves wearing, eating or hunting seals. It began as a protest against Ellen Degeneres’ decision to donate money from her Oscar #selfie to an organization that opposes the Canadian seal hunt. But the trend has emerged as a social phenomenon in itself—a mass collection of photographs that show how important the seal hunt is to Canadian Inuit and others.Comment:  This is reminiscent of the debate over Makah whale hunting.

On the one hand, no animal should be killed cruelly and unnecessarily. On the other hand, what's the difference between whales, seals, cows, pigs, and chickens? Only vegetarians can claim not to be hypocritical on this issue.