June 18, 2010

Indian headdresses at the World Cup

Someone named Lindsey Ricard noted the following at a World Cup match involving Mexico:

She wrote about it on Facebook:

Racism Regulations at World Cup...brokenFIFA has instituted new regulations on racist behavior at the World Cup, seen here:


This is obviously a very huge deal, considering the President of FIFA himself has spoken out about this.

But, it seems that the security at the World Cup isn't holding up FIFA's end of the deal. How, you ask?

By allowing these fans into the arena.
I wouldn't have necessarily devoted much time to this. These are random fans acting as individuals. They're ignorant and don't know any better.

The same is undoubtedly true of the stadium attendants. To expect them to act, we'd have to assume: 1) FIFA headquarters communicated its anti-racism policy to every soccer venue and employee in the world. 2) These employees were trained enough in US history to recognize stereotypical Indian headdresses. 3) The employees had sufficient resources to deal with possibly unruly fans.

That's asking a lot. I'm not saying it couldn't be done, but I wouldn't expect it to happen automatically. Implementing a policy like this could take years.

Of course, these soccer images are being broadcast to something like a billion people worldwide. That's a billion people having the most common Native stereotype reinforced in their minds. It's not something Natives should have to suffer for long.

For more on the subject, see Indian Headdresses at Lightning in a Bottle and Q'orianka Kilcher in a Headdress.

World Cup vs. Dudesons

How does this incident compare to the Dudesons controversy? In this case, the provocateurs were ignorant fans, stadium guards, and camera operators. They were acting in uncoordinated ways, in the heat of the moment. There was no prearranged plan to send a message about Natives to the world.

In contrast, the Dudesons episode was very much prearranged. The Dudesons conceived, planned, and executed a series of stunts. They arranged to have a Western set, horses, costumes, and a cigar-store Indian. Presumably people at MTV vetted and approved the script and created and distributed promotional materials. It was all quite calculated.

With this much planning and oversight, you'd better do things right. If you don't, you'd better expect some criticism. There's no excuse to have this much clout and then say, "Oh, this offended you? We're so surprised and shocked. We never would've guessed that a modern-day minstrel show would bother anyone."

For more on the subject, see Deadliest Warrior vs. The Dudesons and Ethical Code for Native Elders Needed.

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