January 28, 2013

The Navajo Express logo

I've seen these Navajo trucks on the road before. When I saw one parked in my neighborhood, I got a close look at the girl on the logo. I decided to investigate.

On the trucks, the girl's image is small and located on the cab door. I'm not sure why the company doesn't make her image larger and more prominent. Perhaps because it's offensive?

Here's the closest closeup I could find of the girl. Note the blue eyes and the pale skin. She could be Navajo, but everything about her screams "Caucasian." I'd bet good money that she's a white girl dressed up as a phony Indian.

A little sleuthing reveals that her name is Becky and she's the daughter of company founder Don Digby. She posed for the photo when she was 14. Sure, Digby or his wife could be Navajo, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Becky is now Becky Digby-Mackintosh, married, in her mid-40s, and an executive vice president with the company. Her eyes appear to be brown, not blue.

Did Don Digby doctor the photo of his daughter to make her look even more white than she already was? Because the eyes do look unnaturally blue.

And why? Because the blue-eyed Caucasian ideal sells better than a brown-eyed Indian? Because a little boy might not want to kiss someone who looks too "ethnic"?

(Radmilla Cody, Navajo and African American, beautiful but not in a white/heartland/Leave It to Beaver way.)

We don't know Digby's motivation, but everything about this image seems racist.

The logo is a false and stereotypical representation of a Navajo girl. It contributes to the idea that anyone can be an Indian by dressing as one. It's obvious how a real Navajo girl who saw it would feel bad about not living up to the Becky "Navajo" standard of beauty.

If you feel like defending this logo as cute, fun, or harmless, don't bother. We've already been over this ground ad nauseam. You won't have anything to say that we haven't heard a thousand times.

Company name

The other curious thing is the company name. The logo says "Navajo" on the trucks and on the website. The company owns the domain name www.navajo.com. In the text it usually calls itself Navajo.

But in the site links and the formal text, it calls itself "Navajo Express," not "Navajo." And the company also owns the domain name www.navajoexpress.com. I'm wondering if the Digbys changed the name from Navajo to Navajo Express at some point. Perhaps because the Navajo Nation made noise about trademark infringement and domain-name theft.

Only a couple of sites have a logo that says "Navajo Express" instead of "Navajo." I don't think the "Navajo Express" logo is anywhere on the Navajo (Express) site. So the Digbys seem torn between Navajo (old, less legal name?) and Navajo Express (new, more legal name?).

If you search Google Images for "navajo express" or "navajo express truck," you'll see the "Navajo" logo outnumbers the "Navajo Express" logo by 50-1 or 100-1. It's more evidence that "Navajo" is the standard or preferred company name and "Navajo Express" is a latecomer.

A typical company founder would explain the origin of the company's name and logo on his website. He'd take pride in using his daughter as the model. But not Don Digby. There's nothing about the name or the logo on the site.

It seems the company is embarrassed by the logo (keeping it small) and the name (officially "Navajo Express" to avoid a lawsuit?). And it should be.

Clearly, the company should get rid of the racist logo as soon as possible. If it feels the need to use a female image, it can replace the white girl with any of the thousands of beautiful Navajo girls out there.

It wouldn't hurt to change the company name too, but I don't expect the Digbys to do that. I'd settle for banishing Becky the blue-eyed wannabe to the dustbin of company logos.

For more on stereotypical company logos, see Chief Firewater Surfboard Cleaner and Ecko's "Weekend Warrior" Line.

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