January 24, 2012

"Little things" have big consequences

I've talked about the harm of Native stereotyping--the subtle racism and microaggression against people--before. Now a Native woman writes about why it's important to fight these "little things" rather than let them go.

Every Day Little Issues and the Infestation of "Egothoids" in Indian Country

By Corine FairbanksThere are countless examples of how dominant society views us as objects for entertainment instead of the dignified human beings that we are. The stereotypes and cultural mockery is limitless, ludicrous and all of them insidious.

Seemingly harmless marketing logos of unhappy stoic looking chiefs, to international broadcasting in television and film, such as, MTV's "Cowboys and Findians" episode of the show "The Dudesons in America," using of Jim Crow-era racial stereotypes and next the "Twilight Saga: Eclipse," where American Indians get cast only as werewolves, which only perpetuates the myth of Native werewolves running around bare-chested and in cut off shorts while everyone else, including the vampires, wear clothes implying somehow we posses a "wild sensuality" and are less civilized.

Numb colonized-minds think that these are small infractions and they are tolerable, yet, how we are portrayed in the media is ultimately how we are perceived universally.
Here are two examples:

"Get yourself a cowboy hat and a shotgun and enforce the law," was what New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said to then New York Governor David Paterson on how to collect sales tax on cigarettes sold on Indian reservations in August 2010.

"In all the discussions about the European settlement of the New World, one feature has been conspicuously absent: the role that the superstition, savagery and sexual immorality of Native Americans played in making them morally disqualified from sovereign control of American soil."

--American Family Association leader Bryan Fischer
The common theme with all of these examples is that these incidents portray Indians as primitive people of the past, savage, villains, evildoers, and terrorists. Apathoids and Egothoids are unable to "connect the dots" in how these "little issues" are the building blocks to the larger problems we face in our communities.

Standing up for the respect and dignity of our people is a necessary ACT in addressing all of the issues in Indian Country--because they are all connected; from poverty, foster care, faulty legal systems, third world living conditions, to substance abuse, domestic violence, violence perpetuated against us, and violence against each other.

These "little issues" do nothing to build the dignity or self respect of our communities and especially our children. If a person does not have a strong sense of self worth as part of their foundation, what do they do? They self mutilate and act out in self destructive ways.
Comment:  Corine Fairbanks is a friend of mine, and she sent me this column before she published it. I suggested she rewrite the ending and she did.

This excerpt is the ending, and discerning readers can see my influence. In particular, I think this sentenceThe common theme with all of these examples is that these incidents portray Indians as primitive people of the past, savage[s], villains, evildoers, and terrorists.is a direct quote from my comments to Corine.

Naturally, I agree with her conclusions. We see the connection between "little things" and "big things" all the time. The best example is how conservative racists stereotype blacks and Latinos--Indians too--as welfare cheats and leeches. They use this to justify cutting taxes for the rich and services for the poor. The claim that minorities aren't "real Americans" and don't pull their weight leads directly to federal spending decisions.

For more on the subject, see Natives Can't Be Professors?! and Stereotypes Justified "Extreme Measures."

1 comment:

Corine said...

Hi Rob, actually in the actual piece, I directly quote you! Go to AIM SoCal Notes, and you will see it there, I believe the editor of the place where it was published made some edits.