April 21, 2008

Simultaneously racist and sexist

The contretemps over the Woody and Wilcox show continues. An op/ed puts the DJ's comments in context, showing how it's part of a long history of marginalizing Native people.

Someone explain the humor in brutalizing Native womenOn April 9, one of the radio personalities on the "Woody and Wilcox" show on KBFX 100.5-FM, made brutally offensive racial remarks on the morning show. The two were bantering about what it means to be a real Alaskan. One asked the question "Have you ever made love to the Yukon River or peed in a Native woman?"

How often have you heard a sentence that is simultaneously that racist and that sexist? This was hate speech, amusing and encouraging to bigots. Some listeners were shocked; but many Natives, while sickened, thought it was all too typical of Alaska's race relations. Thankfully, we live in a country that does not put people in jail for what they say; but it is also true that we do not have to tolerate vulgar race-baiting over the public airways, which belong to all of us.
Why it matters:Amnesty International has noted "sexual violence against indigenous women is the result of a number of factors, including a history of widespread and egregious human rights violations against indigenous peoples in the United States. ... Indigenous women were raped by settlers and soldiers in many infamous episodes ... Such attacks were not random or individual; they were tools of conquest and colonization."

Alaska ranks No. 3 among all 50 states in terms of racial and sexual violence against Native American women; and now we can understand one part of why the numbers are so bad here. It's because many Alaskans actually like this kind of "humor" because it mirrors their own private feelings about an entire racial group--and about women in general. The Klan has its n-word; neo-Nazi groups tell Auschwitz jokes; and here in Alaska, Woody and Wilcox think that brutalizing Native women is funny.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Highlights of the US Report to the UN on Racism.

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