June 12, 2010

Severed head suggests dead Indians

More on the sports fan with the severed Indian head. He's Jim Melchionna of Turnersville, N.J., and he waves the head at all sorts of sporting events.

Amazing tales of the Philadelphia fan with the impaled Indian head

By Greg Wyshynski"I'm a big Philadelphia Eagles fan, so I actually take the head to the Redskins games. It was never even meant to be for the Blackhawks," he said. "And when the Cowboys come to town, I put a cowboy hat on it and write 'Deadboys.'"

Cowboys, Deadboys. Redskins, Deadskins. And now Blackhawks, Deadhawks.

Apparently Melchionna dresses the generic head as an Indian when the opponents are "Indians." As you can see in one photo, he writes the phrase "Red Dead" on the head's cheek.

Activist Joni Taylor Tucker responds to the article by Wyshynski, who calls himself Puck Daddy:Here is what I posted on the Puck Daddy blog:

All you people--laughing, bitching, mocking, justifying, minimizing this guy's stunt are ALL racist BIGOTS. Helllooo...?! How can you not get it?

1. YOU all talk about native people as "things" and as IF they no longer exist--all I can say about that is you are all dumb asses. (But that is not ALL your fault--your schools and American society dumbs you down.)

2. Native people are NOT animals or things to be dehumanized and be used for the sake of fun and entertainment. THINK people--think! Put a depiction of YOUR preacher's or your grandma's head on that stick. And oh yeah--BTW make sure YOUR kid is sitting in the fan box when the guy runs by like a nut case and waves grandma's bloody head in their face.

3. Who are YOU to say "we are honoring" when MOST of the very people that you claim to be honoring tell you to STOP and say this is despicable? To say that you are just being self serving and making excuses for bigotry.

4. Instead of choosing to remain racist bigots--learn about how these racist acts impacts the well being of entire culture and that ALL children are injured by these bigoted acts disguised as so-called fun antics. Do a simple web search--"Native American mascots."

P.S. Dear Mr. Puck Daddy--Why in the world would you glorify this act by yet another article on your blog...are you glorifying bigotry too?
Comment:  "Puck Daddy" seems slightly disturbed by the head. I don't mind his writing another column about it, but he should've devoted less space to the fan and more to Native reactions to the head. Then it might've been a worthwhile article.

Indians analogous to cowboys?

In fairness, when the Dallas Cowboys are in town, Melchionna dresses the head as a cowboy. So he could claim be an equal opportunity offender.

But he would be wrong. As we've noted several times:

1) "Cowboy is an occupation, while "Indian" is an ethnicity. (I wonder how many thousands of times we'll have to make this point before the first sports fan gets it.)

2) The Indian is wearing a feather headdress from centuries ago. The Cowboy is wearing a hat that people wear everywhere today. One is stereotypical, the other isn't.

If the Cowboy was wearing a powdered wig from colonial times while the Indian was wearing an astronaut's helmet, then the headgear wouldn't be stereotypical. The Cowboy wouldn't look civilized while the Indian looked savage.

3) Indians have a history of being killed and even beheaded in America. Cowboys don't. The severed head suggests this history.

It's similar to a black head in a noose. Obviously, white people were hanged too, but not for racial reasons. The severed Indian head, like the noose, sends a message of racial hatred.

The bottom line

Bottom line is that our society hasn't denigrated cowboys or white men with stereotypical and racially charged messages. It has denigrated Indians, blacks, and other minorities with such messages. That's why the head is wrong.

And as we know, stereotypes beget stereotypes. I'm guessing most fans don't know that Indians are still alive, don't wear headdresses, and may attend sporting events. They think Indians are dead and gone because mascots and other stereotypical images have told them so.

Incidentally, I've got $100 that says Melchionna would agree with the people who think we're talking and teaching too much about race. That America is a level playing field for everyone and racism is pretty much a thing of the past. Anyone want to take the bet?

Note:  I edited Tucker's comments slightly to make them more readable.

For more on the subject, see "Authentic" Chiefs from "Blackhawks" Tribe and Children and Dudesons Believe Stereotypes.

Below:  "Kill the savage redskins! Better dead than red!"

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