By Mary Jane
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.
Tonight’s ‘Real Housewives’ Features Misinformed Debate Over Un-Racist Remark
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 Examiner.com 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 RadarOnline.com 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.
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)
“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.
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."