December 17, 2008

Michelle Raheja responds

We get e-mail:Dear Mr. Schmidt,

I've been a fan of your blog, Newspaper Rock, for several years now, so was really happy to see that you covered the Claremont controversy over "playing Indian" with your typical biting wit and critical insights. As I am one of the parents who initially voiced concern and surprise that this practice still existed and the person who has been scapegoated in the media over this, I cannot express to you how much I appreciate your support. Your coverage of the CNN article on the Wampanoag Mashpee ongoing struggles against racism was also great and expressed the absurdity of those who think dressing up as Indians on Thanksgiving is ok or even honorable.

This has been an extremely difficult experience as my family's privacy has been violated and my daughter has been taunted at school. But I'm also grateful that it has created dialogue around the racist and outdated practice of racial masquerade.

I encourage students to write about Blue Corn Comics and will put you in touch with any who take up the suggestion. I also read with interest that you attended the University of Chicago (I received my PhD from there in 2001). Also, I've given two interviews on Native American radio programs in which you might be interested. You can access the first, on Native America Calling, at The second will air on Wednesday, December 3 from 3-4 PM (PST) at 90.7 Los Angeles and will be archived at through American Indian Airwaves.

Very best wishes to you,
Michelle Raheja
Comment:  As you may recall, I covered the Claremont controversy in three postings:

Parents to Indians:  Go to hell
Police prevent Thanksgiving brawl
Playing Indian for Thanksgiving

And the Plimouth controversy in two postings:

Stupid stereotypes at Plimouth
Girl cries over Indian costume

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