Navajo Nation: 'Mike & Molly' Joke Is Racist!!!
In case you missed it, Mike's mother on the show--an Archie Bunker type--says, "You ever been to Arizona? It's just furnace full of drunk Indians."
The joke isn't sitting well in the Native American community. A rep for the Navajo Nation tells TMZ, "For a show like this displaying us in a negative light is just unacceptable, they are taking a shot at the entire state of Arizona and its indigenous people."
The rep says, "An apology would be the right thing to do, but some damage done can't be fixed in an apology."
Calls to CBS weren't returned.
Go to the TMZ page to see a clip of the joke.
Within a day or so, the story was picked up by MSN, ABC, the UK's Daily Mail, and the Toronto Sun in the mainstream media. The Native media also picked it up, with reports in the Native News Network, the Navajo Post, and the Navajo-oriented Farmington Daily Times.
Some Native reactions to the so-called joke:
Navajo frown, laugh at drunk Indians' joke on CBS show
By Jenny Kane
It is not the only Native American tribe to struggle with alcoholism and the accompanying social problems.
Rates of child abuse, domestic violence, and sexual assault all are high on many of the reservations across the country, according to reports from the U.S. Department of Justice, including on the Navajo reservation.
Many Navajo leaders attribute those statistics to the high rates of alcohol and drug abuse on tribal reservations.
"Alcoholism isn't funny. It isn't pretty," said Erny Zah, spokesman for the Office of the President and Vice President of the Navajo Nation. "It's just sickening. It's awful."
Zah said an apology would be appropriate but insufficient for the offense.
Recently, in the CBS show "Mike & Molly" storyline, Mike's mother Peggy, played by Rondi Reed, posed the question, "Arizona? Why would I go to Arizona? It's nothing but a furnace full of drunk Indians."
Why a highly entertaining show like "Mike & Molly" would need to resort to humor at the expense of the first peoples of Arizona, is inexplicable. This comment shows blatant disregard for the original inhabitants of this land and perpetuates antiquated stereotypes of Native Americans.
NAJA supports our members at the Navajo Nation in the request for an apology from CBS for making this derogatory remark. We further urge screenwriters unfamiliar with Native people to contact NAJA with any questions regarding coverage of Native American and indigenous people.
The contretemps hit the big time when the Washington Post, among other newspapers, ran an Associated Press story about it:
Television show jokes about alcoholism among Arizona tribes; group calls for apology
One of the characters on the CBS show “Mike & Molly” joked about drunken Indians in Arizona, a state that is home to 21 federally recognized American Indian tribes. Although drinking and selling alcohol largely is banned on reservations, it can easily be found in border towns, brought in by bootleggers or sneaked past authorities.
No one disputes that public intoxication is a problem on and off the reservations, but tribal members say alcoholism often is linked to poverty, hopelessness and a history of trauma within American Indian families that is hard to overcome. American Indians and Alaska Natives die at a higher rate from alcoholism than other Americans, according to federal data, and authorities say alcohol fuels a majority of violent crimes on reservations.
“You can see somebody who is drunk and tripping over themselves and it’s easy to make fun of them,” said Erny Zah, a spokesman for the Navajo Nation, which extends into Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. “But the disease itself isn’t funny, the coming home late at night, possibly beating on family members, the absence of family members, the fear it instills in a lot of children.”
For more on "drunk Indians," see Indians Testify About Negative Images and Drink's "Sexy Pilgrim & Indian Party."