November 19, 2013

Pocahotties show depth of microaggressions

A Native professor responds to the issues raised in Tanning Salon Promotes Indian "Color":

Dousing the Pocahottie Stereotype

By Dwanna L. RobertsonRecently, a tanning salon advertisement touted that Indians not only brought corn to the first Thanksgiving, they brought “sexy color.” After complaints (one of which was mine), the ad was taken down from Club Sun’s Facebook page and an apology of sorts was given. And herein lies the problem. Ads like these and society’s inadequate understanding of their inappropriateness show the depth of microaggressions, normalized racism, and internalized oppression that American Indians struggle with on a daily basis.

Larry Andrews, the VP of Sales for Club Sun, gives a glaring example of microaggression mentality. Andrews complained to the local TV station about people becoming offended and accused people of just looking for things to “stir the pot.” Andrews argues that people should look for more positive things so that the holiday season will be better. In other words, people are just overly sensitive and looking for things to be negative about.

Andrews dismisses our feelings or experiences by claiming the company’s actions were innocent. When Natives speak out or speak up against innuendos and slights or mascots, we're often told we're being too sensitive or it was just a joke. In other words, we're always trying to make some big deal out of nothing. Microaggressions are often unintentional, but they still have real consequences.

David Arnett, the marketing director for Club Sun, explained to a local TV station that he’s “Native American” and “proud of my heritage and skin tone.” The ad was meant to be “simply a play” on Arnett’s own sexy color. But the picture was not of Arnett or even a man. Instead, it was the typical “Pocahottie”—a stereotype of a sexualized Indian maiden. Normalized racism comes in the form of stereotypes about hyper-sexualized Native women. Arnett might not know that this image originated with Columbus’s Second Voyage and how dangerous it continues to be for Native women.
Comment:  For more on Indian women as sex objects, see University Bans Offensive Halloween Costumes and Native Regrets "Naughty Native" Costume.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love your sense of humor... Too bad you can't have your own column in ICTMN. I would read it!