August 07, 2012

Un-racist remark in Real Housewives

‘Real Housewives’ LuAnn makes racist remark and upsets cast members

By Mary JaneThings are heating up on “The Real Housewives of New York” and on Monday’s episode of the show, Countess LuAnn de Lesseps will upset many of the cast members because she makes a racist remark. According to a “Radar Online” report released on Aug. 3, LuAnn makes a comment using the phrase “Indian"–in lieu of Native American–which highly upsets Carole Radziwill. To her face, Carole says “Anyone over the third grade knows not to say 'Indian.'"

While “The Real Housewives of New York” star Carole Radziwill was upset about the comment, LuAnn doesn’t exactly have a smart comeback. “Native American … I don't know … everyone over the third grade …" she supposedly mumbles. And to take the focus away from herself, LuAnn makes the joke that Jacques “always calls me his Wild Indian.” LuAnn claims she isn’t offended by that nickname, even though she has Native American blood on her father’s side.

However, “The Real Housewives of New York” star Carole Radziwill does have a point about LuAnn’s rude remark. In an off-camera interview, Carole admits that LuAnn’s use of the word “Indian”compared to “Native American” still bothers her. According to the report, she explains that Native Americans have a “history of being neglected, discriminated against and abused,” which isn’t something to joke about. In fact, using the word “Indian” is politically incorrect.
No, Radziwill doesn't have a point, as we'll see.

Tonight’s ‘Real Housewives’ Features Misinformed Debate Over Un-Racist RemarkOh, really?

We here at Indian Country Today Media Network beg to differ. Although there are a variety of opinions throughout Indian country as to which term—Native American or American Indian—is preferable, this debate seems to concern non-Natives more than culturally-committed members and descendants of specific nations. Certainly one would be hard pressed to find too many who would go so far as to call the word Indian “racist.” An ancient misnomer? Sure.

Unfortunately, it seems there are plenty of non-Indians who feel they know better. It’s not just Carole Radziwill—an article at about the spat uses the headline “‘Real Housewives’ LuAnn makes racist remark and upsets cast members.” Within the text, the word Indian is simply called a “racist remark,” and the article says without explanation that “In fact, using the word ‘Indian’ is politically incorrect.” Examiner cites as its source—there, the word “racist” is put in quotation marks in the headline, but the article presents as fact that the word Indian is “a racially insensitive faux pas.”

This is not to say that LuAnn, who says on her website she was raised by “her Algonquin father and a French mother,” doesn’t commit any “racially insensitive faux pas.” The “woo-woo-woo-woo-woo” she lets out while patting her mouth with her hand wasn’t a good idea.

But it’s a wonder that nobody asks the Indians how they feel about “Indian.” Perhaps it would even be a good topic for our own column, “Ask N NDN,” written by Sonny Skyhawk. The topic might even make for a good panel discussion at the upcoming Santa Fe Indian Market or a lecture series at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.
ICTMN gives a few of the countless uses of the word "Indian" by Indians in our society today. I'd say there are literally millions of them.

After her lame initial response, the "Countess" comes up with a better answer:

‘Real Housewives of New York’ LuAnn De Lesseps Addresses Carol Radziwill Dispute: ‘I’m Not Racist’ (EXCLUSIVE)Here is the Countess’ full statement to Celebuzz:

“Everything I say seems to bug Carole Radziwill. If I say tomato, she will say tomahto! First, I want to say that if anyone thought that something I did on last night’s episode was offensive, I’m sorry. To insinuate that I am insensitive or racist is insulting and flat out, not true.

“Let’s let the facts speak for themselves. The U.S. Census Bureau surveyed people of various races, asking what they liked to be called and over 49% of American Indians preferred to be called American Indian while 37% said that Native American was their preference.
Comment:  I've never heard those statistics before. I suspect they understate the preference for "American Indian." Respondents who felt they had to be politically correct, especially those who were only part Indian, probably chose "Native American."

For more on the subject, see "American Indian" vs. "Native American."

Below:  "Luann De Lesseps may be correct on terminology, but this move never goes over well in Indian country."

1 comment:

Steve Julian said...

It is funny, but not really funny about the word Indian. In one sitcom an East Indian woman responds to a question "you mean casino Indian or our kind of Indian". Casino Indian would be insulting but Indian, I don't think is. I use it all the time. Is it right? Not in today's environment but that's okay. We call ourself's Indian but when publicly addressing we may use the term Aboriginal (which I personally don't like). The use of the word Indian, actually underlines one of the most pressing issues regarding Indians in U.S./Canada, and that is identity. Indians are struggling with that in their worlds.