March 19, 2011

Mascot Song/Chief Dishonor

Here are the first two stanzas of a nice mascot-themed poem:

Mascot Song/Chief Dishonor

By Salvador MartinezIndian mascot schools
You are my rivals
Your Indians scalp my heart
Took away
My Indian image
With chiefs, redskins, and braves
Telling a tale
We’re all the same
Neglecting Indigenous ways

European stuffed doll
In buckskin and war paint
The crowd is pleased with your hoots
And somersaults
Continue to ride the horse painted
In sacred smiley faces
The road to Indian realism is nigher
To the vault of extinction
Comment:  Randy Bardwell of Native Threads, a Pechanga Indian, says he's fine with being called a chief, redskin, or brave. He invokes the "sticks and stones" rationalization and declares the names harmless because they can't hurt him.

Problem is that these stereotypical words and images affect the public's perception of Indians even if individual Indians don't mind them. They also affect Native children who aren't mature enough to ignore them.

We can boil this down to simple mathematics. Say you're in a room with 99 other Indians. Someone comes in and starts insulting the group. Do you a) persuade 99 Indians to toughen up and ignore the taunts? Or b) persuade the insulter to stop insulting you?

Solution b) is obviously much simpler and easier to accomplish. Especially if some of the Indians are children who will need constant reinforcement.

And beyond this hypothetical scenario, b) is even more clearly the way to go. Unless you want a new full-time career, you can't spend your life teaching millions of Indians to toughen up. If you do teach them to ignore the insults somehow, the attackers will find other ways to vent their spleens.

In short, it's much better to remedy the prejudice at the source than to ignore it and hope it'll go away. As we've discussed before, stereotypes don't just go away "organically." They go away when activists make them go away.

For more on the subject, see Team Names and Mascots.


Burt said...

The mascot issue is a simple issue of human dignity.

Natives that take pride in having their heritage honored or aired by another using mockery and ridicule are only extending the victimization of racism displayed in institutions such as schools, courts and policy makers that do not display public racism towards Jews, African Americans and other groups.

There is no honor in the dishonorable.

If you feel that non-natives are whats left in honoring your culture, then you are lost and have accepted becoming a part of the populist bastard culture in exchange of an ancient one.

dmarks said...

Good points, except for the implied arrogance of cultural superiority toward the end.

Burt said...

This past weekend Dmarks, there was a pow-wow at California State U.-Long Beach. The Union Weekly Editor, a Noah Kelley, wrote the most racist and blatantly hateful article about Indians I HAVE EVER READ!

The article titled “Pow Wow Wow Yippee Yo Yippy Yay” was a horrible choice for a headline as well as being very disrespectful in content towards Native Americans.

I hope Rob and you can access this article that uses words like "shittiest" and "what the fuck is a frybread?".

How much more ignorance is acceptable after 200 years of natives speaking english, learning white culture, experiencing murder and suicide, and adopting white religions while non-natives can have the right and privilege to remain complete idiots and hatemongors protected by law and a complacent, lazy (yawn) white community?

Tell me to rise above this continued tradition of ignorance Dmarks and be as passive and sheepish as you versus implied arrogance

Also, if ancient cultures are inferior, why does science, medicine, military strategist and other non-native wannabes have such a fascination and need to return to those ways of living?

dmarks said...

Burt: Rob already covered the article: click here I thought it was ghastly from the word go, starting with the headline.

"...Also, if ancient cultures are inferior..."

Where did I argue that? That's not my argument.

No, I was only criticizing your apparent contempt of the "populist bastard culture", which has given us Duke Ellington, the Beatles, Georgia O'Keefe. Even it has something worthwhile, and saying so does not denigrate indigenous cultures.

Burt said...

"I was only criticizing your apparent contempt of the "populist bastard culture", which has given us Duke Ellington, the Beatles, Georgia O'Keefe", says Dmarks.

I am referrring to "populist" politics, not the arts soley, but you must admit, each of the artists you lists were not immediately accepted by the "populist" cultures of their time either until much later.

Jaine said...

I'm pretty sure that The Beatles weren't in the dark for too many years before they were appreciated.

dmarks said...

Burt: I get it now. Populist usually refers to politics, but given the split there, I made the assumption you were going in the direction of a version of describe popular culture. My bad....

Jaine: The same is true of Ellington: Early in his career, "The band thrived, performing for both African-American and white audiences, a rarity during the racially divided times."

Later he was part of the Harlem Renaissance. The old African American jazz greats had huge white followings.

Jaine said...

thanks dmarks
I must confess I don't know much about Duke Ellington or Georgia O'Keefe. Clearly my American arts education is lacking!