July 16, 2009

Souvenir demonstrates Rapid City racism

Souvenir item refuels race talk

By the Journal Editorial BoardThe business owners certainly deserve a nod for reacting so quickly—willing to take a financial loss on the product to avoid offending the area’s largest minority group. But having the item in the first place makes us wonder: what were they thinking?

We know that in some parts of the country, even the state, the bottle holder wouldn’t have raised even an eyebrow.

But here it does.

Rapid City has a history of dealing with race issues. While the bottle holder certainly wasn’t intentionally offensive, it does bring back old stereotypes and has no place in the community.

The piece perpetuates the stereotype of the drunken Indian—something that should have long been purged from our thinking.

Is the piece offensive? Sure it is. Even the business owners acknowledged some doubt when they asked Native American employees if it was fit to be sold.
The editorial's conclusion:The bigger issue still remains for Rapid City. Even as local groups, law enforcement and city leaders continue to work to address race issues, they remain. There’s a long road ahead before we can put racial issues behind us.

A bottle holder is just a bottle holder but in this case it is a bump in that long road; but it’s one we shouldn’t have to go over.
I doubt a drinking-Indian stereotype would be acceptable anywhere in the state or country. There might be places where non-Indians would accept it, but I suspect Indians would protest.

For more on the subject, see Pumpkinhead "Indian" Inspired Activism and Indian Chief Wine Holders.

More Rapid City racism

Proving the point about Rapid City's continued racism, here are two more articles on the subject:

Hate crime trial called off, women reach plea agreement with prosecutors

By Journal staffTwo local women accused of hate crimes and multiple assaults on Native Americans are pleading guilty to malicious intimidation. That eliminates the need for a trial set for today, but an 8 a.m. demonstration will go on as planned today in front of the Pennington County Courthouse.

The demonstration was set to coincide with the trial for Jenna Gitzke, 21, Rapid City.

She and Miranda Sheldon, 21, Box Elder, were arrested in December after eggs and a rock were thrown from a passing vehicle at three people walking along North La Crosse Street.
Prosecution of Pennington County's first hate crime stirs emotions, awareness

By Andrea J. CookAs Pennington County’s first prosecutions under South Dakota’s hate crime statute move through the court system, many Native American’s realize that their struggle for equality continues.

Next week, 7th Circuit Judge A.P. “Pete” Fuller is scheduled to accept guilty pleas from two 21-year-old women charged with malicious intimidation and harassment, along with multiple counts of simple assault for two alleged attacks on Native Americans that occurred within hours of each other in December. Jenna Gitzke and Miranda Sheldon each face up to two years in prison and a $4,000 fine.
And:Janis, 47, was one of Gitzke and Sheldon’s alleged December victims. Physically handicapped and suffering from a heart condition, Janis was tearful and still frightened by memories of the traffic incident.

Janis was driving a friend’s children to the grocery store on that December night when Gitzke and Sheldon allegedly taunted her and the girls as they left Wal-Mart. The case claims the harassment escalated into a car chase as Janis tried to avoid a confrontation. The girls attempted to ram Janis’ car and force it off the road.

“I was never so scared in my life,” Janis said.

Even with a protection order in place, Janis said she is terrified that supporters of the women might seek revenge because she filed a complaint. Signing the complaint was something Janis said was necessary for her grandchildren and every child of mixed heritage.
Comment:  This is the first hate-crime prosecution in Rapid City? From what I've read, it should be more like the hundredth or thousandth.

I'm beginning to believe that Rapid City is the most racist place in America. For more on the subject, see BB Shootings = Tip of Iceberg and Denial Ain't Just a River in Africa.

1 comment:

Rob said...

A comment via e-mail:

Thanks Rob. Only by exposing these incidents, and a lot of education, will racism be overcome.