Adrienne Keene fills us in on the "Conquistabros and Navajos" party
at Harvard in her Native Appropriations blog:Harvard's "Conquistabros and Navajos" Frat Party
The text of the invitation:The brothers of Sigma Chi invite you to our Columbus Day party this Friday: Conquistabros and Navajos. Start off the long weekend right with one of our best parties of the year. The theme is lighthearted and flexible; dress as anything related to exploration in America, e.g. Columbus, pilgrims, conquistadors, Native Americans and cowboys/girls.
Adrienne's mockery of same:The brothers of Sigma Chi invite you to our party this Friday: Jew-bros and Nazi-hos. Start off the long weekend right with one of our best parties of the year. The theme is lighthearted and flexible; dress as anything related to WWII/The Holocaust, e.g. Hitler, Nazis, The Gestapo, Jews and soldiers.
She goes on to list several problems with the party concept, including:Encouraging party goers to "dress up" as American Indians and Indigenous Peoples puts Native people in the category of a fantasy character--something that no longer exists, or never did. Columbus, Conquistadors, and Pilgrims are all situated in the past, but Native peoples are still here, are still alive, and still Native (and yes, cowboys are still alive, but they are not systematically oppressed and facing continued colonialism).
And a commenter on Adrienne's blog added this important point:Is it a surprise this is tolerated, when the fact that it's a "clever" variant on "Bros and Hos" is taken for granted? Because of course that isn't VAST, GALLOPING MISOGYNY even without a racist component.
Comment: Yep...any time you use the "bros and hos" formulation, you're demeaning women and blacks as well as anyone else you're targeting. This is rarely if ever acceptable, and certainly not at a place such as Harvard.
For more on the subject, see Why Minstrel Shows Are Wrong
and Stuff White People Do: Indians
Another article on the subject quotes Newspaper Rock:
'Conquistabros and Navajos' Party Faces Criticism
"All in all, it seems like a stupid idea, even if we don't know the details. If we did know the details, I'm sure it would seem much worse," commented Newspaper Rock, a blog "where Native America meets pop culture."
Adrienne Keene deconstructs a response from the National Chapter of Sigma Chi:
Harvard Sigma Chi Update #2: An Email from the National Chapter
First, the phrase "I'm sorry you were offended" instead of "I'm sorry they were offensive" (which, to be fair, Sigma Chi totally did use the second phrasing in their apology in the newspaper) implying that I'm being "overly sensitive," rather than that there could have been an actual problem.
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