April 23, 2009

Mic-O-Say defender admits stereotypes

In Educating Scouts About Stereotypes, an anonymous reader took me to task again for criticizing the Tribe of Mic-O-Say and its mishmash of stereotypes:Rob, your post doesn't address my point and it is slanderous.Which point? What "slander"? These claims are worthless without more details. Quote the point you think I missed and the slander you think I uttered if you can.I intentionally never said that this program doesn't stereotype indians. It does.Bingo. Stop right there. You finally admit the point that I've been making all along. The point that almost everyone in these debates has previously denied. Congratulations for finally getting it.I was making another point.Were you? Well, I addressed what I thought was your point when I wrote:

Again, try to think a little. Criticizing the program's stupid stereotypes is completely different from criticizing the program's success at building youth. If you can't understand and address the first point, don't bother writing about the second. Because the second point is irrelevant to my argument.The thing is that the stereotypes don't decrease the inherent worth of such a program.The inherent worth of such a program doesn't decrease its stereotyping.

And its worth to whom? To the kids who participate in it? Or to Indian country, which has suffered the harm of 500 years of stereotyping?

You seem to think you operate in a vacuum, but you don't. Your Tribe of Mic-O-Say spreads its message to relatives, schoolmates, neighbors, teachers--basically, anyone who learns about the Tribe of Mic-O-Say from its participants. The message is that it's okay to dress up as and stereotype Indians.

Give youngsters a break?There are young, albeit passionate, scouts that have not developed their debate/discussion skills enough to combat your angry comebacks and slanderous posts, Rob.There weren't any "slanderous posts," friend. You must not know the definition of slander if you're making such a ridiculous charge.

FYI, I don't know the ages of anyone who comments on my blog. Unless they identify themselves and their ages, they're irrelevant to me. I'm not about to start mollycoddling those who stereotype Indians because they may be children.

Apparently you haven't taught your Scouts a simple maxim: If you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen. I suggest you make that the next Mic-O-Say lesson. Warn the kiddies about the "dangers" of posting on adult blogs and websites.I won't attempt to speak further about this, but I'd say, lighten up your verbiage.No. You lighten up your defense of the Tribe of Mic-O-Say and your criticism of my verbiage.

If only everyone who promised not to discuss something further actually did it. It would make my life easier. <g>It's inappropriate to imply that their arguments are pathetic. You can criticize the program's stereotypes without calling them "stupid."What word would you use to describe the stereotypes? If you don't like "stupid," pick an adjective. Let's see if your choice of words is better than mine.

My inflammatory language served its purpose. Finally, after a few dozen comments, one of you Mic-O-Say defenders has admitted I was right. If you had done that from the start, we wouldn't be having this conversation. And I wouldn't have had to use the inflammatory language to goad you into responding.It seems like several of the commenters are just kids. Ignorant, maybe. But they haven't had the experience to make good arguments.Again, not my concern.

Why criticize stereotypes?My question was why does this blogger, from California, care about this program? Are you on a crusade to end the stereotyping of Native Americans?I directed you to the pages on my site that answered your question. If you didn't read them, that's your problem, not mine.

Anyway, your guess is close enough. And what does that tell you? That I was right to criticize the Tribe of Mic-O-Say, presumably.But, you're a guy that's not familiar with the program and its intended goal.I hate to repeat myself, but if you insist:

Again, try to think a little. Criticizing the program's stupid stereotypes is completely different from criticizing the program's success at building youth. If you can't understand and address the first point, don't bother writing about the second. Because the second point is irrelevant to my argument.It's goal is not to solely stereotype indians. It's not dress up time. The goal is to teach a set of principles.If it's not solely to stereotype Indians, are you admitting it's partially to stereotype Indians?

Is one of the principles you teach the notion that stereotyping people is okay? Because that's what you're implicitly teaching kids regardless of your explicit goals.

Anyway, I never said the Tribe of Mic-O-Say's goal was to stereotype Indians. I said it stereotypes Indians regardless of its goals. I don't know why you're having such a hard time understanding this. Again, try to distinguish the two points.Yes. You're right. Micosay does this in the context of Native "lore." You're right that it picks and chooses from the traditions of several tribes across the country.Again, bingo. Again, you admit I'm right. Why are we even having this debate when I've won it already?

Rob = PC?Is that right? Probably not if you want to adhere to a completely politically correct notion.And probably not if you believe in challenging racist and stereotypical depictions wherever they appear--a completely different matter.

If you're claiming that challenging racism and stereotyping means being "PC," you're wrong. People like me aren't advocating political correctness, we're advocating historical correctness. We're advocating correctness, period. Your stupid fault if you don't understand the difference.Your next argument: well it's not right (you'd probably use "stupid" instead) to stereotype people and parade around acting like you know what their culture is about. You're probably right.Bingo! Three bingos in a row! I'm the big winner today!But, I would say that even the kids that go through do not think that the program is teaching them about specific cultures. They're not that ignorant.Aren't they? I don't see any of the commenters--the ones you said are kids--admitting the stereotypes except you.

Have you ever tested the Native knowledge of your Mic-O-Say Scouts? Asked them if they recognize the stereotypes in your program, perhaps? Until you do, don't bother guessing what they do or don't know. I don't buy it.This can easily turn into a cyclic argument. Stereotypes: pretty much wrong. The programs' principles: pretty much good.Yep. And since the first point was my only point, I'm right. I haven't said the programs' goals were bad, so telling us they're good is a waste of time. Again, it's irrelevant.Can you change the program while keeping the same principles but removing the stereotypes? Tell me how to do it, constructively and without calling the current program stupid, and I will listen.Follow the approach of the Y-Indian Guides, which have successfully removed the Indian trappings from many of their programs. Call up their HQ and ask them for guidance.

If you're unwilling or unable to do this much, bring in a Native to educate the Scouts about Indians. Make sure it's an activist who'll teach them about today's Indians, not a historian who'll teach them about yesterday's. If you're sincere about enlightening them, find someone outspoken who will challenge the Tribe of Mic-O-Say's stereotypes.

That's about all I can suggest. I'm not in the business of providing comprehensive advice to organizations that stereotype Indians. If you want to hire me as a consultant, I'll consider it.

Natives support stereotypes?You never did address that the program was developed in conjunction with Native Americans. Some (non-scouts, invited to watch) have seen it since and have approved.Actually, yes, I did. My answer is in the previous posting. Once again, I'll repeat myself:

Back in the early years of the 20th century, Indians were much closer to the brink of extinction. Therefore, they were much more willing to accommodate the white man's fantasies about Indians. We see this over and over in the creation of Indian mascots.

Since the 1960s and 1970s, that's changed. Hence, the frequent Native protests against the Y-Indian Guides, Indian mascots, and other examples of stereotyping.

Do you mean you want me to address it further? Okay. As you've agreed, you have a mishmash of stereotypes from different tribes. Did you get Natives from all those tribes and ask them about mixing their cultural lore with others'? Did you get older Natives who were more likely to keep their opinions to themselves or younger Natives who were more likely to speak their minds? Did you ask them if they approved the overall program, with its noble goals and principles, or specifically if they approved the mishmash of stereotypes?

When you can address these points, then we'll discuss how much Natives support the Tribe of Mic-O-Say. Until then, you haven't begun to seriously answer the question.

Finally, should I even bother pointing out the questions you didn't answer? For instance, my point about dressing up as 19th-century Zulu warriors? Since you insisted I answer your questions, go ahead and answer mine. Explain why you're willing to dress up as 19th-century Indian warriors but not as 19th-century Zulu warriors.

P.S. If you're curious how this debate started, readers, go to Scout Society Stereotypes Indians.

Below:  The Tribe of Mic-O-Say teaches that it's okay to dress up as phony and stereotypical Plains chiefs.

9 comments:

your worst nightmear said...

these pictures you are posting are copywrited I don't know if you are familir with that term but that means illeagal wrong a no no I hope that is simple Enough terms for you and yes we have real live native I have asked them I have talked to area tribes in which none think we are streotyping so move on with your worthless life please you don't know what you are talking about yet again what a surprise! And may the good lord above be with you.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so it's that anonymous poster again....although, I will use part of my initials this time.

I have just a couple of points.

1. "Warn the kiddies about the "dangers" of posting on adult blogs and websites. [...] not my concern." I am of the opinion that as an adult, you should be conscious that a public blog is open to all kinds of people...even kids. Therefore, I think that you should word your posts in such a way that does not insult or put someone down. Words like stupid should be kept out of a debate/discussion/etc. That was my chief criticism of your post. But, then this is your blog. You are allowed to say whatever you want.

2. Another adjective? Inappropriate. You could say that such stereotypes do scouts and others a disservice. You don't have to attack to get your point across. You don't have to use inflammatory language. In fact, you might be more convincing if you don't.

3. You seem to imply that because a program like micosay stereotypes native americans, it should not be allowed. I do say that there are stereotypes in the program. Do you have another idea of what the program should use to get the point across? Throw out an idea rather than simply attacking the program. You mention the Y Indian Guides. The yindianguides.org website seems to show native american themes. I looked through their handbook. I'm not sure that that has been changed. What vehicle would you use instead? I would truly be interested to hear some ideas.

4. Slander: make false and damaging statements about someone[/something]. I do know the definition. I contend that you were make in a damaging statement by calling previous poster's comments (i.e. "stupid," "idiocy," etc.) I would also say that your tone could be construed as "damaging."

5. I said that there are stereotypes in the program. You responded that finally someone gets it. I am not going to dance around it. There are stereotypes. There are stereotypes in everyday life: media, conversation, opinions, etc. I'm not going to deny what is true about micosay.

6. However, I did not see any statements from you about the worth of such a program. Admittedly, that was not your purpose. So, here is why I believe the program has inherent worth. It teaches and individual's responsibility to four areas: belief system (church, world view, values, etc.), family, community/country, and those in need of help. The program also serves as a system that encourages scouts to return to summer camp. Kids often drop out after a year or two of camp. But, this program has shown to encourage kids to return to camp. It is one way to encourage this. The areas that employ this program to keep scouts involved have seen greater participation and greater rates of scouts achieving the eagle scout rank.

So, do these benefits justify the use of stereotypes? You say no from what I have read. Again, what method would you recommend? Simply sitting kids down and explaining those principles above would not work. You need a vehicle to the get the point across. That is where the native american "lore," "stereotypes," or whatever you want to call it comes in. Every aspect is not a stereotype. But, again, they are there. Others and I have pointed these out to people in the past. We are of the same opinion there. Some things have been changed. Others have not.

7. I don't believe that the March 5, 2009 post about Educating Scouts about Stereotypes answered my question about why you are interested in this program and stereotypes in general. I believe that I was the one you responded to in the "Some anonymous final thoughts" section. What makes you passionate about writing about stereotypes? You are not of native american descent. You state that. Do you have friends that are native american? Are you fascinated by the culture? Or, do you just enjoy attacking stereotypes? I haven't found any information to answer this. You just explained the "idiocy" of "Drake X Andrews'" comments. Again, you poked fun at his defense of the micosay program and use verbiage that attacks Andrews.

8. The use of the photo of how micosay teaches people how to dress up as "phony and stereotypical plains chiefs" makes some big inferences. I would say that some of the clothing that is worn IS stereotypical. But, a lot of it is keeping with more modern clothing that one would find in native american dancing styles. One example of this is the use of the roach. Before you attack this, let me ask something. It is an authentic garment. But, in your opinion, is it stereotypical just because a non-native american is wearing it? I'm not so sure that it is. Doing something like painting your face can be stereotypical because it is done incorrectly, even insultingly (as an aside, it is boy scout national policy that facepainting should not occur). But, is wearing authentic garments in the way that native americans do a stereotype? I would say no. If you wear it like the University of Illinois' mascot used to, then yes it is. But, that was not worn in the same way that native americans do/have done. I am also interested in your opinions on this subject as well.

To conclude, I was trying to make the points that saying insulting things about someone that is trying to discuss something should be avoided and that the micosay program is not just about propogating stereotypes. There are some involved, but there are also things done in an authentic way that help to display the principles that the program is trying to teach. I agree with many of the assertions that you have made about stereotyping. But, I disagree with your tone and implications that the program should not run simply because there are stereotypes involved.

--ab

ab said...

For some context, here is my original post on "Scout Society stereotypes Indians." It was a response to this post: http://www.bluecorncomics.com/2008/07/scout-society-stereotypes-indians.html

"I agree with much what both the blogger and the responders--on each side of this argument have said. It is imperative that we caucasain americans respect the culture of native americans. However, the post begs the question, why does a white guy from California care about a group that he seems to know little about?

Also, I don't believe that it has been said that the Micosay program was developed in conjunction with a Native American chief that was good friends with Micosay's founder (Bartle). The program has changed over the years, yes. But, the core still remains. As is always true, some will inevitably agree with a program, and some will disagree."

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You insist that I answer some of your questions. Here it goes. I'll address them as I can.

I said: "The inherent worth of such a program doesn't decrease its stereotyping."
You said: "And its worth to whom?"

The worth to the scouts that participate. Yes the program does spred to others that come in contact with its participants. You focus on the stereotypes--again, which do exist. But, you ignore the benefits of the program which I touched on in the previous post. A relative many parents, etc. have written to express how this program has positively affected the scout. Micosay does not operate in a vacuum.

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"If you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen."? No, I teach my scouts the scout oath, law, and outdoor code...to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, COURTEOUS, KIND, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent...Also to help other people at all times...and other values/qualities that include conservation, fitness, duty, etc.

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I understand that there is a difference between criticizing stereotypes and the purpose of teaching values to scouts. You make it sound that everyone that is a member ignorantly goes along with stereotypes. I personally disagree with, as I said, the mishmash of elements from different tribes. There are others that do too. But, we see the value of such a program to the scouts. It takes time to work to affect changes such as eliminating such elements. As I wrote in my previous post, there are some traditions that are used accuratly. Just because it is used by a non-native american, in my opinion does not make it stereotypical.

For example, making up a dance that is reminiscent of native dancing and placing meaning on it that does not follow the original intent/purpose is stereotypical. But, I would contend that dancing accurately and traditionally is not stereotypical. Some Micosay groups opt for the former, some for the latter. I disagree with the stereotypical aspects of the programs.

One annonymous poster on the original entry said "I have an older sibling who was in micosay, and i have attended a few dances. it DOES mock native americans." I agree with them that some Micosay programs have stereotypical dancing. But, I disagree that it "mocks" native americans. Mocking implies conscious "ridicule by mimicry" as dictionary.com puts it. It's a stereotype, not necessarily mockery.

The face painting that you show in the pictures of the "Micosay chiefs" is taken out of context by those that do it; I agree. In fact, face painting is discouraged by the BSA because of its traditional meaning to native americans. Its meaning is easily misconstrued.

Much of the clothing that is worn is patterned after more current native clothing. See a native straight dancer for what most men wear and a cloth or buckskin dancer for what women wear. Young scouts wear some things that are stereotypical (ie feathers in a headband...a stereotype that I don't like).

ab said...

I am apparently long winded. Here is the rest of my post.

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I will say that there is contension among native americans about whether it is okay to wear native clothing/dance/etc. if you are not a native american. I have personally come in contact with both. But, I have put a lot of time, effort, and money into accuracy and authenticity. I have participated at native american powwows when welcomed. This has been sincerely appreciated by some and completely disapproved by others. You will find as many opinions as people that there are to give them.

It is the same way with Micosay. There are many people that put a lot of time and effort into accuracy in what they do. They don't choose to participate in the more stereotypical parts of the program and attempt to change them. There are others that like it the way that it is. They see no reason to change things. There are some that do not or cannot put the time and effort into authenticity. This is unfortunate.

I feel that it is better to nudge people in a more authentic direction than confront them saying that they are stupid. They shut down and become defensive.

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So, for your question about the approval of native americans of the different things incorporated into the program. I was not a part of this and cannot speak to the invitation of natives to see the program that happened some years ago. But, I can say that the program was first created by H. Roe Bartle early-ish in the 20th century in conjunction with an Arapaho chief that became his friend. This occured while Bartle was working in a scout council in the western part of the country. I would guess that the plains indian elements used were done so with the knowledge of at least some Arapaho--a plains tribe. But, that is just a guess.

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And, as for the Zulu warrior thing...huh? You wrote in discription of the Zulu warrior picture: "Below: Another tribe of warriors and chiefs for the Boy Scouts to emulate?" I am not sure that this is relevant. Zulu warriors are from south Africa. Micosay has pulled from traditions of native americans not africa. I know your point was "if Micosay stereotypes one type of society with warriors, why not others." Native american traditions were used because the program is in north american, not africa. And, it was (a) native american(s) that were involved in its creation. I'm not sure why we're talking about this.

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I did not know that you posted all the way back on the original blog entry after your started the second entry on the Micosay topic. I have only followed your newer posts until now.

So, you criticize stereotypes because you feel that they hurt every body. Fair enough, I suppose. But, why are you interested in this? Is it a moral conviction, something against the bsa in general, etc. But, you have an outsider's view of the program. Not all of your points are completely accurate. For instance, the face painting that we have discussed only applies to one of the several Micosay-like programs (the one out of St Joseph, MO). All others do not allow it.

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My verbiage was not irrelevant in my original posting. I didn't disagree with your thoughts that stereotypes are wrong. Again, I disagree with the way that you said it. You've made it a big deal by taking my comments as direct response to yours. I hope that you can do this with the direct responses that I have made.

Anonymous said...

get a life Man!! You are wasting your breath no one likes you no one that reads your stuff thinks it is true anymore due to everything you write Being lies!! I might just have to write an article about phony authors such as your phony ass!!! Everyone would read and believe that because it would be all true!!!!! Oh by the way we have more natives that were inducted this year and they think it is great and you are an asshole! So have a great day asshole!

Anonymous said...

what's the matter rob no comments anymore finally going to admit your defeat? Maybe he had to go away due to false writings!

CB said...

Frankly Rob, your opinion doesn't matter. You are a person that doesn't belong to either side of the argument. Since you are not in Mic-O-Say, you cannot fully grasp its concept. If you are not a Native American, then you can't speak on their behalf about their opinion. You don't take into consideration any of the Mic-O-Say Tribesmen's post, except for when it helps your case. What you fail to do by doing that is arguing any other points they make, and that is just poor debate skills. You also fail to have any proof that Native Americans are insulted or feel any discomfort with the Tribe of Mic-O-Say, and that is the main reason why your opinion doesn't matter.Without any proof or research, of anything you say to be true, then you don't have a case.

KSB Lightning Runner said...

Ok, I've only skimmed the more recent arguments so please forgive me if this has been addressed.

As to basing our program on the Zulu instead of the American Indian we don't do that because our program is in Missouri. There were no Zulu in Missouri. Ok, so there probably were, but they most likely didn't want to be there.

If we did do that we would most certainly not darken our skin with make-up just as we do not do so with the existing program.

Someone above posited that we should ask ourselves how we would feel if our religious beliefs were made part of something different. Well this happens all the time. It's called cultural diffusion. As a Christian every year I see my nation celebrate a very secular holiday that celebrates the birth of Christ in name only. That holiday is celebrated on a day with no biblical basis. Even the Christian aspects of the holiday are largely influenced by other, earlier or contemporary cultures.

And yet this doesn't bother me because in all the secular hoopla and commercialism I see greater love for fellow man, greater compassion and greater interest in faith.

In short, all cultures are a mish-mash of stereotypes of other cultures.

I also find it telling that this article is titled "Mic-O-Say defender admits stereotypes" when, in the same comments Rob is citing Rob also admits to propagating stereotypes writing: "Since stereotypes are hard to avoid, my PEACE PARTY comics may stereotype Indians in some ways. But unlike you, I've tried to avoid stereotypes."

So according to Rob it's OK for Rob to stereotype Indians to sell comics for personal gain, as long as you try to avoid them, but it is not OK for two Boy Scout councils to stereotype Indians for the purpose of keeping boys interested in Scouting and generating interest in Indian culture, even if they also try to avoid them. As I've mentioned in comments on other articles, when we learn that we have a practice with no genuine American Indian origin, that practice is usually ended shortly thereafter. In fact, I know of no such practices that have survived such a revelation.

We do our best to eliminate real stereotypes.To be clear, I'm coming from the position that customs with genuine American Indian origins are not stereotypes. After all, no one is accusing the Scouts of stereotyping the military by wearing uniforms. I'm not sure where Rob is coming from. My best guess is he's coming from "If it's Indian and it's not an Indian doing it then it's a stereotype," but that can't be right because his comics fall under that scope as well. Nevertheless it's still my best guess.

We strive to eliminate genuine stereotypes from our program. I promise you that you will never hear a Mic-O-Say tribesmen say anything like "How White Man, you bring more firewater?" However I have seen boys say "No, I don't want to jump around like a drunken Indian." when asked if they're hoping to be selected for membership. I've seen those same boys later on, after participating in the program after-all, rightfully cringe at such comments. Mic-O-Say has helped them to put genuine stereotypes like that to rest and replace them with a real respect for Native American culture that was not there before.

But I guess to Rob that kind of transformation is not worth having some people believe that some Medicine Man somewhere may have worn face paint.

KSB Lightning Runner said...

I'd like to ask my fellow Mic-O-Say tribesmen to refrain from un-Scoutlike behavior such as calling Rob an asshole.

It is valuable to hear the input of someone outside the tribe. We tribesmen know far more about Mic-O-Say than any given outsider, but the image that outsiders take away is important. If someone has greatly misunderstood the program as Rob has, it helps no one to be discourteous and unkind in response.

If someone raises valid issues, as Rob has also done, it helps no one to derail discussion away from that discussion and towards petty bickering.