October 23, 2009

Debating Chief Zee

I received a semi-coherent e-mail from someone named "T." defending Chief Zee, the Washington Redskins' mascot. Here are his key points and my responses:Does Kansas City have laws referring to 'Hate Crimes'?Why do you ask? Chief Zee is the mascot of the Washington Redskins, not the Kansas City Chiefs.

It would be a stretch to call a mascot a "hate crime." First, it usually isn't a crime. Second, most people don't hate Indians overtly. They're usually just stupid and ignorant, as racists tend to be.

Of course, the name "Redskins" violates the US Trademark Office's ban against offensive names. In that sense, it's a crime or at least a legal violation. A judge who understood language and the law would invalidate the trademark on that basis.[A]t age 68... disrespect to elders, in reference to his age, being unacceptable.The main thing I criticized was the idea of Chief Zee's being a mascot. I also criticized his not being an Indian and his wearing a stereotypical Plains chief headdress. His age is a minor issue compared to these.

But if you want to discuss it, okay. Respected Native elders generally don't ride around on scooters and exhort people to shout epithets against Indians. Epithets such as the ethnic slur "Redskins." You are aware that most Indians consider this word an insult, aren't you?I assure you Chief Zee doesn't want your Pity!Good, because I didn't give him any pity.He wants respect, justice & appreciation for all he's given, his support, & his tradition To All Peoples of our Nation!Many Indians don't consider mascots supportive or respectful. If they say Chief Zee is offensive and unacceptable, then I'd say he is too. Who are you to say otherwise--to tell them they're wrong?

Chief Zee doesn't discriminate?!There is no discrimination in his intent, his actions, or title.Are you serious? Chief Zee is stereotyping only one ethnic group, not all ethnic groups. Until he parades around as a Zulu warrior, a Mexican bandito, or a Chinese coolie, he certainly is discriminating. Stereotyping one race and one race only is discrimination by definition. It discriminates between one race and the others.

As for his intent, apparently you're unaware of the research proving that many people are racist on a subconscious or unconscious level. They don't realize they're acting in racist ways but they do it anyway.

More to the point, who cares? I'm judging Zee's stereotypical actions by their effect, not their intent. In case you're ignorant of the voluminous evidence against mascots, read Team Names and Mascots and The Harm of Native Stereotyping: Facts and Evidence. Educate yourself so I don't have to.Yet he has suffered well beyond reason, due to IN-justice of the system!Poor guy. Let's retire him and any other "Redskins" mascot permanently. That should satisfy everyone, right?

Below:  Pop quiz for "T.": Match the Washington Redskins' mascot (below) to the race or ethnic group he's stereotyping.

Chief Zee

a) Indians (e.g., Sherman Alexie or Adam Beach)

b) Blacks

c) Latinos

d) Asians

e) All of the above.

Unless your answer is e), Chief Zee is a discriminatory, racist stereotype of Indians only. Duhhh.

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