February 05, 2010

Warpaint and feathers for Cowboys game

Push for American Indian garb at CSU game draws fire

By Monte WhaleyStudents and administrators at Colorado State University will meet today to talk about a Facebook posting that encouraged fans to wear war paint and feathers to a basketball game this Saturday.

CSU sophomore Ben Margolit asked that CSU fans wear the American Indian garb at the men's home basketball game against the Wyoming Cowboys. His posting sparked comments from detractors who thought it was racist and degrading to American Indians.

Supporters, meanwhile, wrote that Margolit's critics were being too politically correct.

A statement by CSU administrators decried the posting, and students who objected to the posting held a rally Wednesday on campus.
CSU students drop plan for Indian costumes at Wyoming game following protestsA student-created effort to get CSU students to dress up as American Indians for the weekend's Wyoming-CSU basketball game has sparked a campus protest and a nasty discussion on Facebook.

Organizers of the event have already decided to change the dress to "Orange Out" to honor CSU's history as the Aggies. But the damage appears to have been done.

In a letter to the campus community, CSU administrators said they can understand why some students think dressing up might be fun. However, they said, such events perpetuate "cartoonish cultural stereotypes."

CSU administrators noted that students have a First Amendment right to free expression, so they took no official action to stop the planned event. But they did reach out to the organizers in an effort to persuade them to change their focus.
Comment:  Margolit, the student who posted the notice, took it down immediately when notified of the backlash. He didn't mean to denigrate anyone. It was just good clean fun.

So Margolit's racism is unconscious and ignorant rather than conscious and mean-spirited. It's still racism. For whatever reason, he thought it was okay to characterize a race with cartoonish cultural stereotypes.

Ironically, schools with Indian mascots often hold events like this. And the schools' administrators support these activities rather than criticize them. I guess Colorado State University is more enlightened than other schools.

For more on the subject, see Tricking or Treating Indians and Team Names and Mascots.

Below:  Similar "fun" at sporting events.

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