May 20, 2009

Headline:  "SB Scalps Aztecs"

Groups Protest Headline

American Indians Reprimand Daily Nexus Diction

By Elliott Rosenfeld
Several university-affiliated organizations have taken offense at a headline published in the Daily Nexus in early April, alleging that it was hate speech concerning American Indians.

The American Indian Graduate Student Alliance and the Graduate Student Association have voiced their concerns about the headline, “SB Scalps Aztecs in 15-8 Win,” which was published on Thursday, April 2 on the sports page. The article was a recap of a baseball game between the UCSB Gauchos and the San Diego State University Aztecs. The AIGSA sent letters to the Nexus, the UCSB Press Council and Chancellor Henry T. Yang about their issues with the headline.
What exactly is wrong with the headline?Using the word “scalp” in the headline, the letter says, employed offensive, racist language. According to the AIGSA letter, the practice of “scalping”--which constitutes the violent removal of hair, skin and scalp tissue--stems from historical accounts of aggressions between colonists and indigenous people in New England. Ironically, the letter says, the offending headline was also historically inaccurate, as scalping was never a practice within the Aztec empire.

Sonoquie said American Indians are traditionally the subject of more ignorant hate speech than other minorities. The cultural insensitivity demonstrated by the Daily Nexus, she said, cannot be condoned.

“Even if your sports writers were insensitive enough to include derogatory statements about other minority groups, would headlines such as ‘SB Lynches Howard University Bisons’ or ‘Men’s Baseball Sends Brandeis Owls to the Ovens’ ever make it through your copy edit process?” the AIGSA letter asks. “We hope not. If racist language against African American or Jewish ethnicities were used in headlines there would be a large, public outcry likely resulting in the resignation/dismissal of the editor, sports editor, and any other staff involved in the decision to print such statements.”
Comment:  For more on the subject, see AL Baseball Headline:  "Indians Scalp Red Sox to Even Series."

Below:  The Dartmouth Review stereotypes Indians with its "scalping" cover.

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