June 09, 2013

Mithlo's TEDx talk on stereotypes

Nancy Marie Mithlo's TEDxAlbuquerque Talk on Images of Native WomenNancy Marie Mithlo, Chiricahua Apache, is an Associate Professor of art history and American Indian studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who recently gave a TEDx talk in Albuquerque regarding images of Native women in popular culture. She specifically addressed a number of recent incidents that received significant coverage here at ICTMN.com--Paul Frank Industries, No Doubt, and Victoria's Secret.

She ended her talk by citing the title of a column by Sasha Houston Brown: "Nothing Says Native American Heritage Month Like White Girls in Headdresses."

It's an informative presentation that all Americans ought to hear--we recommend forwarding this one.

Comment:  I'd say Mithlo should talk faster, but this is an excellent talk on the harm of Native stereotyping.

As Mithlo (below, center) says, fake Indians are why people are confused when they meet her. Because of media stereotypes, they don't recognize her as a real Indian.

Are you seriously going to argue that stereotypes aren't a problem when a real Indian can't even be recognized? Go ahead and explain how this complete lack of recognition doesn't and can't affect employment, law enforcement, healthcare, education, self-image and self-esteem, etc., etc. Good luck with your answer...you'll need it.

Mithlo noted the violence against Native women and how that's linked to images of "sexy squaws." She added that the connection between media stereotypes and actual harm to Indians is hard to prove. True, but it's also hard to deny.

Indeed, I'd say the onus should be on the deniers. You think Native stereotypes don't influence how we think about Indians? Prove it. Because the anecdotal evidence overwhelmingly suggests that people believe what they see.

Incidentally, Mithlo contacted me via e-mail to let me know of the video. She lists BlueCornComics.com at the end as a further resource. Yay for me and her!

She referred to Native activists "and their allies," which means people like me. I take that and her listing of Blue Corn Comics as an endorsement. Meaning that it's fine for non-Natives like me to speak on Native issues if our positions are smart and well-informed.

For more on the subject, see Pocahontas Poster Shows Movies' Influence and Nugent "Tomahawk Chops" Mascot Critics.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

She should know that nobody self-identifies as a hipster, though.

But yeah, the fact is, Americans see these racist ads as something near and dear to them. But seriously, who thought a headdress would be a good idea?

(Also, the Land O' Lakes mascot never made a lick of sense, for obvious reasons.)