March 31, 2009

Rob shouldn't criticize "redskins"?!

In Wassegijig Doesn't Respect "Redskins," reader Kalisetsi took me to task (again) for criticizing a Native:I often wonder why someone apparently so concerned that Native peoples be treated with proper respect would continually spend so much time writing about issues of Native identity, authenticity, and what we choose to call ourselves.Because they're key issues, obviously. And because they're inextricably entangled with the other issues I address. It would be impossible to write clearly on many Native subjects if I didn't address these issues.
In this case, my issue is not the magazine title "Redskin," but the propriety of you as a non-Native putting down Natives who choose for their own reasons to stand behind that name and use it however they want.Well, my issue is the magazine title "Redskin." Why don't you tell us where you stand on that? If you think it's a good idea, then we'll discuss it. If you don't think it's a good idea, then what's the problem with my agreeing with you?
Clearly, many well-known Natives have associated themselves with Redskin magazineAppearing in the magazine doesn't necessarily mean endorsing the title. As I said before, someone may feel that the good of promoting their art or cause outweighs the bad of appearing in a magazine named "Redskin."
are you really ready to say they are all ignorant?No, and I haven't said that in the past. What little I've said about the people appearing in the magazine includes this:I know all about Irene Bedard and Nathaniel Arcand, since I report on them frequently. Are they "traitors" for appearing in the magazine? "Traitors" isn't the word I'd use, but it's a legitimate question. Should they (and you) tacitly endorse the "Redskin" name and concept by appearing in the magazine?Who can judge "redskins"?And that you, as a non-Native, are a better judge of the word "Redskin" than Native people themselves?Here's where you're sadly mistaken. I must've explained myself half a dozen times, but I'll do it once more so you can't miss it.

The word "redskins" doesn't offend me personally. I have no strong feelings about it. My position reflects only what I've read and heard from thousands of Native sources.

If the Native population were to "reclaim" the word "redskins" and declare that it no longer offended them, I'd be happy to support that outcome. Until that happens, I support the present situation. That position is that most Natives consider "redskins" an ethnic slur.

Repeat: I'm not imposing my belief on Natives. I'm reflecting what most Natives believe. If you disagree with these Natives, go argue with them. Quit wasting your time and mine when Native leaders throughout the country are trying to eliminate team names and mascots they consider offensive.

In short, your assertion that I don't understand or sympathize with what most Natives think and feel is flatly wrong. You may not understand or sympathize with them on this issue, but I do.Do you not see the irony, hypocrisy, and assumed privilege on your part when you talk down to us Natives and try to "enlighten us" as to how our own grandparents were treated?"Talking down" is your opinion only. It isn't worth much when you don't cite and quote what you're talking about.

I don't recall ever saying how anyone's grandparents felt about anything. The only irony I see here is your making up stuff about me and then taking some imaginary high road about it. Nice trick if you can get away with it.

Who speaks for Natives?

Let's note a few more facts. You and Wassegijig come from two widely separated Native cultures. There are thousands of Native cultures in North America that you two don't belong to. As far as I'm concerned, neither of you is qualified to speak for all Natives--to tell me how should I deal with them.

Moreover, "redskins" isn't a term particular to one Native culture. It isn't a matter of private or sensitive cultural lore. It's an ethnic slur applied to Natives in general. When it comes to a question of English word usage, anyone can judge the issue as well as you can.

And I'm not telling people how they should feel. I'm telling people that most Natives consider "redskins" an ethnic slur. You can feel however you want as long as you acknowledge that I've accurately summarized the situation.I'm pretty sure that you've never been called a "tree n*gger" in your life.You're right about that. So...what's your point? I've never said anything about or even heard of the phrase "tree nigger." Is this another of those irony things you mentioned? I've never mentioned something and you're chastising me for it anyway?

If your point is that I've never been called a "redskin" either, you're right about that too. But many Natives have and they object to the word. Since Wassegijig is too afraid to address this issue, feel free to do it for her.

Let's recap: You defend Wassegijig's right to use "redskins" but have yet to say whether it's an ethnic slur. So is it or isn't it...yes or no? Answer that question so we know where you stand on the underlying issue.

Does anyone here want to take the Redskin challenge? If you don't think the word is an ethnic slur, use it in a room full of tribal leaders and elders. Let us know how they feel about being called "redskins."


Stephen said...

The title is obviously a cry for attention and some half assed effort to be 'edgey'.

Stephen said...

Some uses for red**** magazine and the Koran:

* Paperweight
* Holding down bookshelves
* Flower Pressing
* Door Stopping
* Insecticide
* Blunt Rolling Papers

Just for the love of gawd don't read them. ;)

Melvin Martin said...

An Indian Elder Weighs In (or You May as Well Just Call Me a Nigger) -

I'm now (at the age of 56) considered an elder of the Oglala Lakota (aka "Oglala Sioux" in some circles), and I consider the term "redskin" as highly offensive, along the emotional lines of being referred to as a "nigger."

But then, I have at various times in my life been called a "nigger" by racist whites - but now, by my own people, other Indians?!

If this term is used by anyone, anywhere, and in any context, I am deeply offended. And I am particularly offended by the title of this "magazine" - and I have very high hopes that it soon FAILS!

I might use it for shitpaper in a post-apocalyptic, nuclear setting if it came down to that. So, in the irradiated outhouse, when I go "poo," then use Redskin magazine for shitpaper, and it glows at the bottom of the outhouse - well, then, that's the glowing review I give this rag.

Rob said...

I've used my name in the title of a blog posting a dozen times, Stephen. I've used "redskin" or a variation in the title three dozen times.

In fact, I first used the word in my second day of blogging (Whiteys vs. Darkies vs. Redskins, 6/20/06). If you think this is something new, you're sadly mistaken.

Meanwhile, I see you're beginning to show us your ugly side. Should we flush every holy book down the toilet, or is it just the Koran you're blindly prejudiced against?

Rob said...

Thanks for the support, Melvin. The next time Kalisetsi or Sheena Wassegijig tells me I shouldn't criticize the Redskin magazine title, I trust you'll be on my side.

Stephen said...

"Meanwhile, I see you're beginning to show us your ugly side. Should we flush every holy book down the toilet, or is it just the Koran you're blindly prejudiced against?"

My problem is with Islam not Muslims in general (nice try though) that's not exactly prejudice, what wrong with having no respect for a book of hate?

Stephen said...

Oh and it's obvious that you don't know anything about Islam judging by the garbage you posted here:

It seems you've thoroughly swallowed the 'it's a religion of peace those terrorists have simply highjacked it' fairy tale.

Anonymous said...

The use of the word is intended for shock and cheeky value.

Offended? More like disappointed. It isn't even the word, it is more that the magazine is about promoting celebrity culture and creating hierarchies of hipness. I think those are things our relatives, who fought so hard for our sovereignty would not be happy to see us engaging. We are better than that.

Anonymous said...

ndgns people who use terms like redskin, squaw, indian, injun etc are no different from african american people who use the n-word to describe themselves.

the difference between me, an indigenous person, and them, redskins, is that i have pride, honor, dignity and respect for myself and my Ancestors who i would NEVER refer to as redskins, so why should i refer to myself that way?

all these "redskins" are, are opportunistic sell outs with no sense of true pride.

nehi katawasisiw
pipihkisis cree nation