October 31, 2013

Ireland Baldwin tweets Indian costume

Ireland Baldwin, the daughter of Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger, got in trouble for a series of tweets. Jezebel.com may have been the first to report on it.

Ireland Baldwin Defends Her Native American Halloween CostumeMom who really doesn't want to be at Disneyland Halloween and was forced to dress up but had one… http://instagram.com/p/gCLTsWEoKU/This is who I was being for Halloween at Disneyland. You all are pathetic.Deleted the picture because it was insulting all the poor little white girls who need a racial cause to be apart of for attention

— ireland (@IrelandBBaldwin) October 29, 2013

Ok everyone. I apologize if my Halloween costume offended you and your culture PERSONALLY. However, I don't apologize to a majority...

... Of you who thought it was necessary to return the favor with a lot of hateful mentions.

A Native American costume was AN OPTION at a Halloween store.

I respect all cultures and I would never mock one. I am Cherokee Indian and I am also well aware of what many tribes encountered in the past

And for some of you pathetic morons to bring my family and other matters into the discussion, you are all sad excuses for human beings
Presumably Baldwin's tweets came in response to other tweets. I don't know exactly what people said, but we can imagine it.

Commenters respond

Some Jezebel commenters responded directly to Baldwin's claims:It couldn't be a racist costume because it was based on a Disney cartoon, also there was the option in a store. If it was racist, that would mean the Disney cartoon and the store are racist, which certainly could never be a possibility.

Seriously, if you are basing the racial appropriateness of stuff off of Disney cartoons, sorry kiddo, but Disney cartoons are racist as fuck and still have a hard time with race.

When she grows out of her teenage sociopathy she will regret that entire tirade. I like that she hit just about every square on the "Racist Apologist Bingo" card. Brava, kid.

Is it me or are we seeing a LOT of privileged, white, pretty, blond girls going absolutely INSANE this Halloween with the black/brown face and getting REAL huffy when called out on it? I'm getting the distinct impression they feel entitled to do whatever they want due to aforementioned blond whiteness. It's giving me rageface because I'm also seeing a shit ton of feminists defending them. Intersectionality, time to embrace that already and not put up with this bs.

You know, there were/are a LOT of different tribes. Isn't it amazing how every single clueless white person always claims to be Cherokee?

Ireland Baldwin, you cannot claim you are part Native American in order to justify your racism, whether you really are or not. I am part African (in my ancestry for real, but am as white as skim milk) but am not using that as an excuse to do racist shit.

She's part Cherokee? Kim Basinger's Wikipedia states that she might be part Cherokee. But how convenient for Ireland Baldwin to bust that "fact" out.

You would be shocked how many people I've encountered outside of the midwest who did not know Native Americans still exist, as if they just perished or something. I get the feeling a lot of people who put on redface do so with the assumption that there are no Natives alive to take offense.

There are many, many more who DO know and just don't care.

For what it's worth, I'm 35, from the East coast, and have met exactly one person who I knew to be primarily Native American. It doesn't excuse Ireland's stupidity, but I think you're right that she probably had no reference point for modern real-life native Americans.
Comment:  As I tweeted after reading this:

Claiming to be Cherokee to justify an Indian chief or Pocahottie costume = claiming to be German to justify a Scottish kilt or Greek toga.

There's a glaring contradiction in the above assertions. If Baldwin is Cherokee as she claims, what is she doing in a stereotypical Plains-style costume? If she has no reference point for Natives, why is she claiming to be Cherokee?

If you're an Indian, that doesn't give you a licence to wear whatever you want and claim it's authentic. Just the opposite: It behooves you, more than anyone, to get the costume right. To wear something that's culturally correct, not a stupid stereotype.

More coverage

Other websites reported on the controversy, depicting Baldwin as defiant:

Ireland Baldwin Defends Native American Halloween Costume: “I Am Cherokee Indian” (PHOTOS)

Ireland Baldwin Dons Native American Halloween Costume, Lashes Out at "Pathetic" Critics

Or contrite:

Kim Basinger--Ireland Baldwin Apologises Over Native Indian Halloween Costume

'I made a mistake and I apologize': Ireland Baldwin responds to backlash after Native American Halloween costume causes Twitter uproarThe uproar continued for several days following the incident, with many people seemingly unwilling to let it go.

'People make mistakes, everyone. I made a mistake and I apologize if it offended,' Ireland wrote on October 30, before addressing individual @Buri103, explaining, 'I copied a Disney character and I'm sorry that it offended you.'

On Thursday, the star managed to make light of the situation, tweeting, 'Before I dress as Wednesday Addams and Juno Macguff this weekend, is anyone offended?'
Comment:  For more on Pocahottie costumes, see University Bans Offensive Halloween Costumes and Native Regrets "Naughty Native" Costume.

Elsipogtog protesters beaten, insulted

Although the fracking conflict between Mi'kmaq protesters and the RCMP is over for now, there's still the aftermath to consider:

Mi’kmaq Warrior Society members say they were beaten, roughed-up after arrests

By Jorge BarreraTwo members of the Mi’kmaq Warrior Society say they were roughed up and beaten by RCMP officers and jail guards after they were arrested following a heavily-armed raid on a Mi’kmaq led anti-fracking camp in New Brunswick earlier this month.

Jason Augustine, Warrior Society district chief, said he was kicked in the head by an RCMP officer after he was cuffed and arrested during the Oct. 17 raid.

Augustine said he was later diagnosed with a concussion at the hospital in Moncton, NB.

“I was kicked in the head three times when I was taken down,” said Augustine. “I wasn’t resisting arrest, I had my hands behind my back, and this one RCMP started bashing my head in.”
RCMP investigating officer who uttered slur during raid on Mi’kmaq-led anti-fracking campAn RCMP officer involved in the Oct. 17 raid on a Mi’kmaq-led anti-fracking camp in New Brunswick is under an internal investigation for saying “Crown land belongs to the government, not to fucking natives.”

An RCMP spokeswoman said the force was informed of the statement on Oct. 18 and immediately sent the officer home and he is now the subject of an internal investigation.

“This type of behaviour is unacceptable and is taken very seriously by the RCMP,” said Const. Jullie Rogers-Marsh.

Rogers-Marsh wouldn’t say whether the officer was suspended.
Comment:  For more on Elsipogtog, see Murphy: Natives Dismiss Canada's Generosity and Media Frames Elsipogtog as "Clashes."

October 30, 2013

Oneida and NFL discuss "Redskins"

Before the meeting between representatives of the Oneida Indian Nation and the NFL:

Daniel Snyder scheduled to meet with Roger Goodell this week about Redskins name

By Mark MaskeWashington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder is scheduled to meet with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell this week in advance of the league’s planned meeting with representatives of a Native American group that opposes the team’s name, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The person, speaking on the condition of anonymity because neither the league nor the team had publicly confirmed the meeting, said there is no indication that Snyder has modified his stance about changing the name.

The meeting between Snyder and Goodell “is to get more of an understanding from the club as to how it plans to address the issue,” according to the person with knowledge of the situation.
Reports: Goodell, Snyder meet

By John KeimWashington Redskins owner Dan Snyder met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday regarding the franchise's nickname, though the meeting was more about strategy in dealing with protesters, according to The Washington Post.

The newspaper reported that Snyder told Goodell, once again, that he isn't going to change the team's name.

In recent weeks Snyder has spoken about the history of the franchise and the image the team conveys to its supporters. Previously, Snyder had simply said he was not going to change the name.

The league also reportedly wanted to know how the Redskins plan on dealing with the opposition to their nickname. Goodell is scheduled to meet with representatives of the Oneida Indian Nation on Wednesday to discuss the Redskins' name.

After the meeting

Oneida, NFL meet about 'Redskins'

By Don Van Natta Jr.Representatives of the Oneida Indian Nation on Wednesday asked NFL executives to sanction Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder for conduct detrimental to the league for continuing to use a team nickname and mascot that "promote a dictionary-defined racial slur."

In the 90-minute meeting between Oneida Nation representatives and three senior league executives in New York City, the officials also asked for all team owners to meet with Oneida leaders the week of Super Bowl XLVIII. And they asked that Snyder and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who was traveling Wednesday and did not attend the meeting, visit Oneida Nation homelands in upstate New York.

But the Oneida representatives left disappointed, saying after the meeting with senior NFL executives Jeff Pash, Adolpho Birch and Paul Hicks that the league "defended the use of a racist name," Oneida spokesman Joel Barkin said.

"We are very disappointed," Barkin said. "This is the beginning of a process. It's clear that they don't see how this is not a unifying term. They don't have a complete appreciation for the breadth of opposition of Native Americans to this mascot and name."
Native American advocates ‘disappointed’ after meeting with NFL over D.C. team

By Arturo GarciaAdvocates for the Oneida Indian Nation vowed to continue their efforts to get Washington D.C.’s NFL team to change its name following a meeting with the National Football League on Wednesday, ESPN reported.

“We are very disappointed,” Oneida spokesperson Joel Barkin told ESPN. “This is the beginning of a process. It’s clear that they don’t see how this is not a unifying term. They don’t have a complete appreciation for the breadth of opposition of Native Americans to this mascot and name.”

Tribal representative Ray Halbritter reportedly gave NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a 30-page report (PDF) commissioned by Oneida leaders that argues that the team’s continued use of the name “Redskins,” which they have described as a slur, aids prejudice against Native American communities.

“With the help of the National Football League’s $9-billion-a-year marketing machine, this behavior not only exposes Native Americans to a harmful stereotype, but also implicitly condones the use of this term by non-Native Americans, which if performed on an impersonal level would possibly constitute harassment or bullying,” the study states.
American Indians call on the NFL to FORCE a Redskins name change as the league and owner stand by the controversial moniker

Manhattan meeting makes no progress in name dispute between team owner and American Indians

By Matthew Hall
Oneida Indian Nation members yesterday called on the National Football League to use its authority to force the Washington Redskins football team to change its controversial name.

Representatives from the Oneida Nation met in New York City on Wednesday with the NFL and Washington Redskins officials.

But, seemingly like their counterparts in Washington's Congress, the three parties could not come to any agreement on the issue of the football team's name.

The roadblock is caused by Redskins' owner Daniel Snyder's refusal to change the name, Oneida's refusal to back down from their claim the name is offensive, and the NFL's apparent refusal to take a stand on the issue.

'We requested that the commissioner use his authority to refer Daniel Snyder to the league for possible sanction over the continued use of the term,' said Oneida representative Ray Halbritter, referring to the Redskins owner, according to ABC News. 'If the commissioner lacks the power to act, he should publicly say so.'

'Despite ridiculous assertions to the contrary, the use of the R-word is not a unifying force nor does it convey respect. It is the very word our people heard when they were dragged by gunpoint off their land and dragged onto reservations,' Halbritter said.
But it wasn't all about the Redskins at the meeting:

Anti-Redskins activist confronted by tribe advocate at press conference

By Patrick HowleyDisputed American Indian activist Ray Halbritter’s New York City press conference to change the name of the Washington Redskins was interrupted by an advocate for disenfranchised members of Halbritter’s own tribe.

An ugly scene ensued at New York’s Marriott Marquis as New York Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney confronted Halbritter over his mistreatment of genuine members of the Oneida Indian Nation, which Halbritter leads as a profit-driven casino oligarch.

Halbritter’s “Change the Mascot” press conference, following his high-profile meeting with NFL officials, was covered by ESPN, Comcast, YouTube Sports, TIME Magazine, and many other mainstream outlets.

The Daily Caller previously reported that Halbritter, a 1/4 Indian and Obama crony, is not a legitimate member of the Oneida Indian Nation, according to U.S. Census rolls and genealogical documents.
Comment:  I think the right-wing Daily Caller's "report" is more of an opinion than a fact. But Halbritter's reign has been controversial at times, especially among Oneida traditionalists.

Natives criticize "Inukt" fashion line

First Nations artists decry fashion brand

MACM exhibition participants say Inukt line–on sale at MMFA–is cultural appropriation

By Isa Tousignant
There’s a battle of Montreal museums going on that is displeasing some First Nations artists.

On Oct. 16, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MACM) held a festive opening for Beat Nation, an exhibition that underscores the connection between contemporary indigenous art and hip-hop culture.

The next day, a different kind of launch took place: the inauguration at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) boutique of a luxury fashion and homeware line called Inukt, featuring First Nations-themed objects, including an armchair decorated with a silkscreened head of a chief wearing a feather headdress, and little plastic “Indian girl” dolls.

Unconnected to any exhibition on view at the MMFA, the line was created by Montreal art director Nathalie Benarroch, who isn’t of indigenous descent and who recently returned to Canada after two decades in the Paris fashion industry.

Some First Nations artists involved with the Beat Nation exhibition are not happy with the Inukt line, and are not shy about saying so.

“Inukt has a name that makes it sound like it is Inuit- or Northern-focused, and then what you get is a complete mishmash,” said Tania Willard, an artist from the Secwepemc Nation and one of the two curators of Beat Nation. “We have distinct nations; we are not pan-Indian, and you can’t just take our culture and art. Our ancestors fought to leave us their legacy, culture and esthetics—fought with their lives.”
A critic goes through some of the items in the collection, including the ones below:

An analysis of the Inukt boutique

The item description includes this: “Printed on one side with a black and white picture of legendary Chief Joseph, who is given an instant style with a shot of fluo feathers…”Carrying around a ‘fob’ of a caricature of an indigenous girl is…creepy, and frankly racist, even if it comes from a reserve.
There is a difference between actual historical figures, and caricatures of native people.

My final assessment

I think there is good reason for the controversy. There are examples of cultural appropriation/misappropriation, as well as reliance on racist stereotypes. Not all the products at this boutique fall under these categories, but more work could certainly be done to identify the communities where the footwear and accessories are made, as well as untangling the mishmash of cultures Ms. Benarroch uses to label her items and boutique.
Museum boutique withdraws Inukt lineThe Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’s boutique has pulled a line of fashion and houseware off its shelves after The Gazette reported that First Nations artists found them offensive.

On Wednesday, the MMFA apologized to members of First Nations communities who were offended by the Inukt line created by Montreal designer Nathalie Benarroch.

The clothing, furniture and decor objects featured First Nations-inspired themes, like a chief in a feather headdress and plastic “Indian girl” dolls.

“Following the comments we have received in the past few days, we have decided, in consultation with Nathalie Benarroch, that our boutique was not the best place for the launch of her collection. We have therefore contacted personally various members of the First Nations community, as well as visitors who have taken the trouble to share their opinions with us, to apologize and to let them know that the Inukt products will be withdrawn from the boutique in the next few days,” boutique manager Sylvie Labrosse said in a statement.
Comment:  So Benarroch appropriated real Indians and invented fake ones...used words and images from Plains, Anishinaabe, and Pacific Northwest...and put them all under the "Inukt" label and slogan ("I am Inuk and my heart is free!"). How is this different from the worst tourist trap selling kitschy "Indian" arts and crafts? Answer: It isn't.

Cree activist inspires DC superhero

New DC Comics superhero inspired by young Cree activist

Shannen Koostachin is a real-life role model who will provide inspiration in comics, MP saysA new comic superhero for DC Comics will take the form of a teenage girl from James Bay. Toronto cartoonist Jeff Lemire says Shannen Koostachin—a young Cree activist from Attawapiskat—helped inspire him.

Lemire said the 15-year-old, who led fellow students to Parliament Hill to lobby for a proper school, isn't far from his thoughts in drawing up the new superhero.

“I think if I can capture some of that heart and some of that essence in this character, perhaps she'll almost be a guiding spirit in the creation of this character,” he said.

He came up with the idea of a Cree superhero because he was fascinated with the culture he saw while visiting Northern Ontario as a child, he said.
DC Comics Basing Native Superhero on Cree Activist Shannen KoostachinLemire is the author/artist of the acclaimed indie graphic novels Essex County and The Underwater Welder for Top Shelf Comics, and since 2009 has been working within the DC universe (where the superheroes live) as a writer for various titles. His blog is at jefflemire.blogspot.de.

Koostachin's legacy is Shannen's Dream, a social justice campaign that seeks to improve funding for education for First Nations children. Koostachin and Shannen's Dream are the subject of Alanis Obomsawin's 2013 film Hi-Ho Mistahey!
Comment:  I'm not sure this will work out well. Lemire doesn't know what powers this character will have. He seems to be reacting mostly to the news about Koostachin. Which suggests the character will be superficial--a typical generic Native superhero.

Let's hope I'm wrong about that. We'll see.

SF Chronicle drops "Redskins"

The San Francisco becomes the biggest media outlet (I think) to banish the word "Redskins."

S.F. Chronicle to stop using 'Redskins'

By Hadas GoldThe San Francisco Chronicle will stop using the name "Redskins" for the Washington, D.C., NFL team, managing editor Audrey Cooper confirmed to POLITICO.

"Words are powerful, and so is how we choose to use them," Cooper said in an email. "Our long-standing policy is to not use racial slurs—and make no mistake, 'redskin' is a slur—except in cases where it would be confusing to the reader to write around it. For example, we will use the team name when referring to the controversy surrounding its use."

Cooper said she doubts any regular reader of the Chronicle or website SFGate.com would have noticed the choice to use "Washington" instead of the team name, and that they are choosing to use another word that "accurately describes what we are writing about."

According to reports, the change was announced internally on Oct. 25.
The Chronicle's own explanation of the change:

On not using epithet for NFL team's nickname

A report tallies the number of media outlets banning the name so far:

Redskins Boycott: 76 Media Outlets and Journalists Oppose Name of Washington NFL Team

Comment:  These decisions are sending a powerful message about what Americans will and won't accept in polite society. They're helping to ratchet up pressure on Dan Snyder, the Redskins, and the NFL.

What will these businessmen do when hundreds of media outlets refuse to use their name? Nothing? No, they'll bow to the pressure and make the right moral, political, and economic choice.

October 29, 2013

Tribal leaders unite against "Redskins"

Are there any leaders of federally recognized tribes who support the Redskins name? If so, I haven't seen them or their opinions. What I do see is tribal leaders united against the ethnic slur.

Just as important, they aren't relying solely on emotional appeals to make their case. They're hitting on all cylinders now--challenging the bogus arguments about "honor" and polls and "more important things to worry about."

Would You Call Me a Redsk*n to My Face?

By Brian Cladoosby
President, National Congress of American Indians; Chairman, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community
Let's be clear: "Redsk*n" is a racial slur, no matter how many weak justifications defenders try and come up with to keep using it.

"Redsk*n" Doesn't Honor Anyone

There is nothing honorable about the word. Native peoples are not honored by the slur, the image, or the mockery of "war dances" on the sidelines.

The word isn't a benign classification of a person's skin tone. Not only is it a term that has been uttered with scorn and hatred, it also refers to the literal "red skin" bounty hunters would collect in order to be paid for the number of Natives they slaughtered. These men would kill Native people then rip the skin from their bodies in order to receive payment. It isn't a term that honors the "strength, courage, pride, and respect" so many argue it does. It is a term born of the violence Native Americans have been experiencing for hundreds of years.

Use of the word is recognized as racist in many scenarios: if one child called another child a "redsk*n," it would be bullying; if one adult referred to another as a "redski*n" at work, it would be harassment; if "redsk*n" was used in the course of a crime or scrawled on someone's home, the perpetrator would be charged with a hate crime. Most readers probably would never consider calling a Native American a "redsk*n to their face. Yet, the name is defended because it is the name of a football team.

Team Spirit Is More Than A Name

Longtime supporters of the DC team often recount memories of cheering for the team with family members, singing the fight song, and being proud of their home team. In his letter to fans, team owner Dan Snyder argued that those traditions and early experiences are part of his identity: "it mattered so much to me as a child, and I know it matters to every other Redsk*ns fan in the D.C. area and across the nation. Our past isn't just where we came from--it's who we are."

But is it team spirit, sportsmanship, enjoyment of the game, and cheering for the home team that matter, or is all that secondary to the name itself? More and more fans are coming to the realization that memories, traditions, and identity are not so fleeting as to be marred by using a different name.

One avid fan wrote of her fond childhood memories of the DC team and of becoming a fan while a young child in El Salvador before coming to the United States. She has loved the team longer than she has been an American. Yet, when she faced the real offense felt by many Native people and the fact that no other racial group would be forced to endure a team name that denigrated their identity, she came to the obvious conclusion--tradition or not, the name has to go.

About Those Polls

Defenders of the name frequently refer to laughably unscientific polls that say Native Americans are not offended by the name. Of the many problems with the methodology of these polls, the most egregious is that at no time were respondents asked any details about their Native heritage. No questions were asked about tribal citizenship/membership, about cultural knowledge, or about connections to tribal lands or families. It is entirely unclear exactly who was polled or whether they are, in fact, tribal citizens.

During NCAI's 70th Annual Convention and Marketplace in mid-October, thousands of elected tribal leaders and Native peoples representing hundreds of Native nations, gathered to work for a better future for our tribal nations and the United States. A resolution was passed unanimously "Commending Efforts to Eliminate Racist Stereotypes in Sports" to publicly declare the support of tribal nations in the work to end this era of racism in sports. This is all the evidence necessary to know that Native peoples, raised in and living with their own traditions, find these types of mascots disparaging.

The numbers are clear: Native peoples want the name to change. Those asking for a change are not a small minority. From all walks of life and across the political spectrum--from the president to NFL hall of famers and fans--there is public acknowledgement that the name needs to go.

"More Important" Things To Worry About

As so many have pointed out, the Native American community does have problems other than the names of sports teams. Poverty is rampant in Indian Country. Sexual assault is a daily problem for men and women--and nearly 70 percent of the aggressors in these attacks are non-Native. The Indian Child Welfare Act is ignored and Native children continue to be separated from their families. Elected tribal leaders consistently strive to make changes for their people as do the elected leaders of other communities across the country.

These issues are usually ignored by the media and policymakers. Threaten a football team's name, though, and these problems are used to deflect and trivialize the use of stereotypes and racism. Mocking Native cultures is not trivial. Ending the casual use of racism is important.

It is also important that this debate over mascots and names continue to open doors to conversations that introduce Washingtonians and the American people to the 5.2 million Native peoples in America today. Our peoples face daily problems and have always made positive contributions to American society: as governments and business leaders, veterans, first responders, elected officials, entertainers and sportspeople--not just as caricatures on a team logo. This debate isn't an opportunity to defend racism by pointing to "bigger problems," it is an opportunity to confront racism by creating awareness and better understanding about this problem.
Washington's Football Team Isn't Entitled to Slander Native People

By Ray HalbritterAs this campaign has gained the backing of civil rights groups, religious leaders, editorial boards, public health experts, members of Congress and the president of the United States, some have asked why we believe this issue is so important.

The first answer to that question is simple: If, as critics contend, a professional team's name isn't all that important, then why do they so vehemently resist the call for change? The answer, I fear, is that those who are so committed to using this name believe they are entitled to continue slandering us.

The second answer to the question relates to the significance of professional football. The NFL is arguably the country's single most powerful cultural force. In light of that, it is fair to say that for many Americans, their most explicit contact with the idea of Native American culture is the Washington team's racist name. Indeed, on TV screens every week, millions are told that we are not fellow Americans, but instead subhuman. Pretending that's somehow not important is dishonest, especially when social science research shows that such persecution has destructive public health consequences.

The third answer to the question about why this is such an important issue has to do with the definition of America itself.

Those who defend the use of the word "Redskins" present themselves as the sole arbiters of what is acceptable. They present themselves that way because those engineering the racial assaults–rather than the targets of such assaults–have always claimed supremacy. People like Washington team owner Dan Snyder insist that their supposed right to target, intimidate and persecute people inherently negates the right of others to be free of such persecution.

The fight to change Washington's team name, then, is a larger fight to declare that America will finally put the ideals of mutual respect before those who want to slander others on the basis of their alleged skin color.

Such mutual respect, of course, requires the willingness to see the world through others' eyes. It requires, in other words, a society that values empathy more than hate. In such a country, no group deserves to have as powerful an organization as the NFL treat them as a target of a racial slur. As this country's first people, we deserve simply to be treated as what we are: Americans.
The False Binary of the 'Redskins' Controversy

By Gyasi Ross
Author; attorney; member of the Blackfeet Nation[I]f the Redskins name changes tomorrow, those fundamental needs absolutely still must be addressed. Changing the Redskins name won't put food on one Indian kid's plate; it won't give one Native person a job in our economically vulnerable homelands. Those are facts.

But that shouldn't be the test--Native people shouldn't be forced to choose between living or racial discrimination. "Clean air or school lunches." "Be alive or don't be discriminated against in a way that no other racial group is in the United States."

Those are false binaries.

See, as I pretty exhaustively laid out in a recent piece at Deadspin, whether or not a person supports Dan Snyder's absolute free speech right to name his team whichever racial epithet he chooses, the empirical, indisputable fact is that Natives are treated differently than any other racial group in America. That is a matter of public record. It's also easy to prove; simply put in other skin colors for "Redskin" and see if it would be an acceptable name for a professional team. Blackskin. Yellowskin. Whiteskin.

Wouldn't happen. Disparate treatment.

Therefore, whether a Native is like me--I don't subjectively feel offense at the word "Redskins," and I generally think that it's a topic of privilege--or not, is beside the point. The Redskins political debate is not whether one or many Natives feel subjectively offended, but why non-Natives objectively feel comfortable treating Natives differently than everybody else.

Subjective feelings aren't the point. Objective discrimination is.
Halbritter Brings ‘Change the Mascot’ Campaign to USET

By Gale Courey Toensing[P]art of the problem, according to Halbritter, is that some people don’t even think it’s a problem. “Some people say, aren’t there more important issues?” Halbritter said. But with dozens of studies showing that racist slurs and demeaning mascot images have a profoundly negative psychological impact on Indian peoples who already suffer the highest rates of depression, low self esteem, suicide and a host of other health and social ills, “It may be the most important issue facing us,” Halbritter said.

There’s an easy solution that would appease those who don’t think the racist slur is an important issue. “All we have to do—all we ever had to do to solve their problem—is to just be quiet, just shut up, just go away, stop being who you are, stop doing your dances and just be good-looking brown people. Wouldn’t that solve all our problems? We wouldn’t have to argue with them anymore, we wouldn’t have to take on the NFL, the wealthiest franchise in the world.” But that’s an impossible solution because of the values that indigenous peoples are taught. “The world has always underestimates a people’s belief in themselves—we call it a fire in yourself, a fire that doesn’t die. That’s what we’re taught. We’re taught to look forward to the seventh generation. Everything we do is really for our children and their future.”

Because of Oneida’s hugely successful Change the Mascot campaign, the “redskins” issue is has been widely reported in the mainstream media—“finally for the right reason,” Halbritter said. People across the country have had their consciousness raised and are asking questions. Halbritter himself posed a question: “Why in the 21st century is this racist epithet still being used to market professional football team that is supposed to represent the capitol of a diverse, tolerant nation?”

He urged the tribal leaders and attendees to seize the moment to press the issue forward. “This is a moment to say that we will not be treated as a racial slur. We want to be treated as what we are, Americans,” Halbritter said.
Changing the Redskins nickname a difficult taskToday, a political and ideological push to get the NFL team’s latest owner, Dan Snyder, to change the nickname is in full force. Many groups, including the Mandan Hidatsa & Arikara Nation in North Dakota, find the nickname offensive, demeaning or racist.

The MHA Nation passed a resolution on Oct. 10 titled “Rename the Washington Redskins,” wrote a letter to the editor about the issue—it appeared in Saturday’s newspaper (Page A6)—and The Press interviewed chairman Tex Hall about the topic for a story that appears on the front page of our Sports section today.

“Our tribe’s position is that ‘Redskins’ is derogatory,” Hall states in the article. “It came from taking scalps and taking bounty.”
Oneida Indian Nation on D.C. Team Name: NFL Must Finally Stop Marketing Hate and Bigotry

Comment:   Gyasi Ross reiterates a key point that I've made before. Namely, that polls attempting to measure the subjective feelings of offense are flawed. One can not feel offended personally yet still think the name should change. Because, as Ross says, it's an objective example of racism--of discriminating against Natives and only Natives.

Blackface popular for Halloween 2013

Blackface seems to be making a comeback this Halloween. The parallels to redface, which is still widely tolerated in America, are obvious.

There's no reason, or excuse, for blackface Halloween costumes

By Roxane GayActress Julianne Hough stepped out in blackface over the weekend. She was attending a Halloween party as Crazy Eyes from “Orange Is the New Black.” That’s fine. The show is hot this year and Crazy Eyes is a popular character. Hough wore the prison oranges, had her hair done up in what charitably could be considered Bantu knots and wore a name tag that said “Crazy Eyes.” That should have been enough—the necessary cues were there.

Hough took her costume one step further, though, dousing herself in bronzer to darken her skin so she might better resemble Uzo Aduba, the actress who plays Crazy Eyes. The blackface did nothing of the sort. It never does. Instead, Hough looked like she spent way too much time out in the Los Angeles sun before stepping out that evening. Once the images of Hough in her ill-informed costume were released, the Internet went crazy.

Here we were, yet again, having this bewildering conversation about why blackface, given its historical uses and the ongoing sensitivity around issues of race, will never be an appropriate costume choice. The apology parade began, and Hough said: “I am a huge fan of the show ‘Orange is the New Black,’ actress Uzo Aduba and the character she has created. It certainly was never my intention to be disrespectful or demeaning to anyone in any way. I realize my costume hurt and offended people, and I truly apologize.”

We know this dance. Public figure makes misstep. Public figure apologizes. That apology is then dissected endlessly, and we’re left wondering if the public figure even knows what they’re apologizing for.
Is this 2013 or 1913? 7 Disgusting Displays of Halloween BlackfaceIn the last week or so, we've seen a rash of blackface episodes that makes us wonder. All of these attracted media attention, and while they're all very ugly, we'd venture to say that this handful of blackface incidents pales in comparison to the number of redface costumes that will go unreported or even unremarked.

Here's hoping that we'll reach a stage when white people pretending to be American Indian is as shame-worthy as white people pretending to be black.
More about one of the incidents:

White Teen In Blackface Responds To Black Critics: ‘Worry About Finding Your Dad’

And one more incident that involved black stereotypes but not blackface:

Fraternity in hot water for “Hood Ratchet” party

Reminder: Cultural appropriation always looks bad

By Mary Elizabeth Williams
The Theta Xi event invitation had depicted an African-American man holding a wad of cash, and promised “bad bitches, white girls, basketball players, thugs, gangsters ratchet pussy” that “we goin back to da hood again!!” But University Vice President for Student Affairs E. Royster Harper sent a letter of rebuke to the frat Thursday, saying, “The language of the invitation and theme of the party denigrated all women and African American/black identified people through racial stereotypes and cultural appropriation. This behavior is offensive, disrespectful and unacceptable at the University of Michigan.”What's wrong with blackface?

The first rule of blackface: It’s not hard to understand, everyone

...is don't wear blackface. The end. Now why is that so hard for some people to remember?

By Brittney Cooper
When white folks paint their bodies black, they demonstrate that they see the black body as a permissive site for the expression of trauma, pain and illicit pleasures. In other words, being in a black body permits them to do everything they are uncomfortable doing in a white body: being lewd and crude, celebrating violence, acting sexually promiscuous, using racial slurs.

This is just one more lie of white racism: that black people are free to do all the things our society hates and demonizes while white people are bound by the strictures of respectability. White pathologization of the black body is classic psychological projection. Everything that there is to abhor about whiteness and white supremacy gets projected onto the black body and becomes a material problem for black people.

Now for many people who simply do not want to concede the horror and racism of these acts by Filene and the Cimenos, it would be easy to dismiss this as individual racism, to suggest that these people are clearly jerks, but that their sentiments are not generalizable.

Every year, pictures surface on social media of college kids and regular citizens donning blackface for parties. This is not an isolated incident. It keeps happening and it happens because white people do not actually believe this constitutes an injury to black people. Or maybe they just don’t care.

“We’re just having fun,” many of them say. Look, I get the cultural fascination with black skin. The American national imaginary is built on the mythic lore of black otherness–superhuman strength to supply the main labor force of the national economy, men and women with extraordinary sexual desire and prowess, unparalleled athleticism, and a deep anger that leads to a fearsome capacity for violence.
When Black People Dress Up As White People For Halloween

By Danielle CadetEvery year, someone dons a controversial costume. And every year people spend several weeks wagging their fingers and shaking their heads and scolding said awful person for doing such an awful thing. And every year, that awful person--particularly when they're someone famous like sweet, little Julianne Hough--apologizes for being awful and unaware that his or her actions would be even slightly offensive to anyone, especially his or her black friends (because said person always has several friends of color with whom he or she immediately becomes even better friends with after all of the hullabaloo and accusations of racism).

But here's a very important message: Ignorance is not an excuse. It's especially not an excuse in a world where it's possible to know every verse on the Yeezus album 20 minutes after it's leaked online, or in a world where people who haven't read the viral story of the day are immediately considered stupid, uncool individuals who must spend their days living under a rock.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you have to fully understand the history of blackface--and I promise, I'll spare you a long explanation because I know you won't read it anyway. I'm not asking you to be an Africana studies major in college, or watch documentaries on minstrel shows. I'm asking you to do what you do every day, read the damn news, share stories on social, talk about things you found interesting or crazy or weird. You can't tell me you didn't read last year's story about blackface and you didn't see your black friend's post on Facebook last year (it probably said something like "really?" or "ugh" or "not again") when it happened...LAST YEAR.

The issue with hiding behind the ignorance safety net (i.e. "I didn't know it was offensive," or "I thought it was funny," or "I wasn't trying to be racist.") is you take the responsibility off of yourself and put it on everyone else. It becomes everyone else's (read: black people's) responsibility to teach you why blackface is offensive--which is the ultimate problem with privilege. It somehow becomes the oppressed person's responsibility to educate the offender turning the victimizer into the victim, but we won't even go there.
Attention Thought Catalog: Blackface is always racist

A white female writer doesn't understand why Julianne Hough's blackface costume was offensive

By Prachi Gupta
Rheel, who at some academic level understands why blackface is degrading, acknowledges her ignorance first by stating it, and then by demonstrating it:Before I continue, let’s just get one thing out of the way. I am in fact, a white person. I’m not trying to pretend like I know what it is to be black in America and have to deal with a bunch of ignorant white nonsense on a regular basis but is this really one of those times? Like, honestly. I want to know. Because it seems like most of the people who are getting upset over Hough’s costume are white to begin with and it makes me want to say “chill out white people!” There’s plenty of actual racism going on in the world for you to freak out over and prove how not racist you are, but this probably isn’t your moment.Her distinction between “actual racism” and all that other, REAL racism is reminiscent of the embarrassing LL Cool J and Brad Paisley song, “Accidental Racist.” Rheel decides that Hough’s blackface is innocuous because Hough is “a white woman getting what is essentially a heavy spray tan to more accurately portray her favorite character.” According to Rheel, getting upset over this “seems like a trivialization of what blackface was in the first place.”

Listen up, Kelly Rheel: Darkening your face to make yourself look more like a black person IS blackface. That action turns blackness into a costume; it is a nod to years of oppression in which blackface was used as a theatrical weapon against black people, as Salon’s Brittney Cooper eloquently explains here. Always. If you’re not “trying to pretend like I know what it is to be black in America,” then please stop trying to pretend like you know what it is like to be black in America.
Comment:  For more on blackface, see Mummers Parade in Redface, Blackface and 1491s on Redface and Blackface.

Below:  "Greg Cimeno's Trayvon Martin costume was idiotic, and posting pictures of it on Facebook wasn't exactly a genius move either."

October 28, 2013

AIM protests "Redskins" in Denver

'Redskins' Are Set to Lose as Public Awareness Grows

By Carol BerryColorado activists confronted Washington fans and players with signs, handouts and slogans as they protested the name “Redskin” at the Denver Washington NFL football game yesterday. The activists blasted the Washington team’s name as racist and outdated as they marched outside Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

“We are here today to tell Washington owner Dan Snyder that his brand of racism might fly in D.C., but when the team comes to Denver, it is going to get push-back from Native people and our allies,” said Glenn Morris, leader of the American Indian Movement.'

The AIM, Idle No More and Denver activists protested against the team’s mascot with loud chants, “Hey, Dan Snyder, you can’t hide, you are on the racist side.”

Dozens of red signs calling on the Washington team to “Change the Mascot” were held aloft for the players to see as they walked by an area outside the stadium that was packed with police.
'It's always been about the hatred of Indian skin': Native Americans, allies protest Washington Redskins in Denver

By Simon Moya-SmithHundreds of people rallied in Denver on Sunday to protest the name of the Washington Redskins and to send a message to team owner Dan Snyder that the nickname is derogatory to Native Americans.

Two Native American organizations, American Indian Movement Colorado and Idle No More Denver, began the demonstration Sunday morning as the team prepared to kick-off against the Denver Broncos.
And:Tink Tinker of the Osage Nation and a professor of American Indian Cultures and Religious Traditions at the University of Denver, told the crowd that the issue demonstrates a history of racism toward Native Americans.

"It's always been about the hatred of Indian skin," he said.
So much for the asinine claim that white liberals are manufacturing this controversy and leading Indians by the nose. Why don't you walk to an AIM member and say it to his face? "You don't care about racism against your people. You're just doing this to be politically correct."

Whenever conservatives claims liberals are behind the name-change movement, which has been going on for decades, they're either ignoramuses or liars. Probably both.

Pelosi agrees with Obama

Meanwhile, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi is the latest high-profile person to come out against Washington's ethnic slur of a nickname:

Redskins should change name, Pelosi says

By Mike LillisRep. Nancy Pelosi believes the Washington Redskins should find a new name.

In an interview with The Hill, the California Democrat said it “probably would be a good idea if they change the name.”

The House minority leader is the latest politician who has embraced a name change. President Obama earlier this month said he would “think about changing” the team name if he owned the football team.

Marvel's Last of the Mohicans

Marvel Classics Comics #13--The Last of the Mohicans (1976)

The Last of the Mohicans (Marvel Illustrated)The very first Marvel Illustrated story, The House of Ideas' new foray into classic literature, featuring an adaptation of James Fenimore Cooper's renowned novel! Last of the Mohicans tells the seminal story of a race on the brink of disappearance due to the inexorable push of civilization into the wilderness of the New World. It's a tale that will touch readers of every age with both its timeless realization of an important historical period-and with its powerful action and adventure! This isn't your father's classic comics! Adapted by writer Roy Thomas, who's a Marvel classic himself (Avengers, X-Men, Conan) with stunning art by Marvel newcomer Steve Kurth. Collects Marvel Illustrated: Last of the Mohicans #1-6.

Comment:  I haven't read the first comic, but I read and reported on the second series years ago. Well, on the first issue of the series, anyway. I wasn't interested enough to keep reading.

For more on The Last of the Mohicans, see First of the Tonto Tales.

October 27, 2013

Little House = libertarian fable

Little Libertarians on the prairie

Was Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved children’s series written as an anti-New Deal fable? The Wilder family papers suggest yes.

By Christine Woodside
From the publication of the first book in 1932, the series was immediately popular. And, at a time when President Franklin D. Roosevelt was introducing the major federal initiatives of the New Deal and Social Security as a way out of the Depression, the Little House books lulled children to sleep with the opposite message. The books placed self-reliance at the heart of the American myth: If the pioneers wanted a farm, they found one; if they needed food, they killed it or grew it; if they needed shelter, they built it.

Although Wilder and Lane hid their partnership, preferring to keep Wilder in the spotlight as the homegrown author and heroine, scholars of children’s literature have long known that two women, not one, produced the Little House books. But less well understood has been how exactly they reshaped Wilder’s original story, and why. Throughout the 1930s and early 1940s, as the Little House fans clamored for more, Wilder and Lane transformed the unpredictable hardships of the American frontier experience into a testament to the virtues of independence and courage. In Wilder’s original drafts, the family withstood the frontier with their jaws set. After Lane revised them, the Ingallses managed the land and made it theirs, without leaning on anybody.

A close examination of the Wilder family papers suggests that Wilder’s daughter did far more than transcribe her mother’s pioneer tales: She shaped them and turned them from recollections into American fables, changing details where necessary to suit her version of the story. And if those fables sound like a perfect expression of Libertarian ideas—maximum personal freedom and limited need for the government—that’s no accident. Lane, and to an extent her mother, were affronted by taxes, the New Deal, and what they saw as Americans’ growing reliance on Washington. Eventually, as Lane became increasingly antigovernment, she would pursue her politics more openly, writing a strident political treatise and playing an important if little-known role inspiring the movement that eventually coalesced into the Libertarian Party.
Comment:  The article doesn't say much about Indians, but they're the "elephant in the room." Pioneers like the Wilders didn't just "find" farms. They moved onto Indian land illegally; the government took the land and gave it to them illegally. Thus the stolen Indian land became the farms they "found."

As perhaps the biggest government handout in US history, it's the opposite of the libertarian fairy tale of self-reliance. The Wilders might've been homeless refugees if not for the the government's charity.

For more on the subject, see Little House Celebrates Land Theft and Wilder the Typical Conservative.

O Guarani

The GuaraniThe Guarani: Brazilian Novel (Portuguese: O Guarani: Romance Brasileiro) is a 1857 Brazilian novel written by José de Alencar. It first came out as a feuilleton in the newspaper Diário do Rio de Janeiro, but due to its enormous success Alencar decided to compile his writing in a volume. A plausible explanation for this success might be in the fact that novel spoke of freedom and independence, arguing for a nativeness that could be found in tropical Nature and in the indigenous people of Brazil.

O Guarany is set back in 1604, a period when Portugal and its colonies submitted to Spanish dominion due to a lack of heirs to ascend to the throne. Alencar takes advantage of this dynastic complication to resurrect the historical figure of D. Antônio de Mariz, a nobleman connected to the foundation of the city of Rio de Janeiro and a pioneer settler. This historical (factual) background, which orients the novel throughout, is set in the first two chapters; then fantasy, both violent and erotic, starts to prevail.

The novel is still widely read nowadays, especially at Brazilian schools as an introduction to novel reading, but also by anyone who enjoys a thrilling adventure story. Literary criticism has tended to link O Guarani to the works of Fenimore Cooper, Chateaubriand and the noble savage from the Rousseauesque tradition. However, this interpretation of the novel has become outdated as recent academic works show also how dark, sexual, gothic and lyrical (over narrative, unlike the Fenimore Cooper model) the novel is.

The Guarani is the Brazilian novel with the largest number of adaptation for comics.

October 26, 2013

Kanye's t-shirts feature Indian skulls

Kanye West's Tour T-Shirts Feature Indian Skull, Confederate FlagHip hop star Kanye West has begun his Yeezus tour, and photos of the merchandise being offered to concertgoers have inspired outrage and befuddlement.

As revealed at Complex.com, the goods include t-shirts emblazoned with a skeleton wearing a feather headdress or "war bonnet" associated with Plains Indian tribes. Other provocative imagery includes the Confederate flag.

The art is by Wes Lang, whose work is informed by the Grateful Dead and tattoo culture, and uses skeletons and skulls in various forms, including wearing Indian regalia--visit his blog to see numerous examples.

At Complex.com, some commenters are voicing their disapproval of the Native/skull image--here's what reader Schon Duncan says:

Fuck that racist Indian shit. As a Native American, seeing a skeleton with a headdress on is just plain disrespectful and it reinforces the idea that Natives are a thing of the past. Fuck that. We're still here and don't need this from someone who claims to understand the struggle of oppression.
Kanye West’s Yeezus Album Art is Racist

By Danielle MillerCultural appropriation of Native culture occurs frequently in pop culture as acts of shock value or just out of plain, insensitive, ignorance. Those in privilege don’t have to deal with their own identity being questioned or defined by the mainstream frequently. So it’s easy to see why they feel so justified in disrespecting other cultures. It seems these disgusting acts have become a rite of passage for those in privilege. Whether intentional or unintentional it’s obvious there are subconscious micro aggressions and acts of conquest taking place.

The phrases “kill the Indian save the man,” and “the only good Indian is a dead Indian,” were justifications for genocide. Clearly when an image depicts a dead Indian, it alludes to these mantras. Privileged groups are the ones most frequently perpetuating these mantras through imagery such as the skull and headdress, and with such a mantra this image becomes even more problematic than typical displays of cultural appropriation. While the popular mainstream is not literally expressing these quotes they are still expressing these sentiments through metaphors and micro aggressions of cultural appropriation. Their actions result in literal consequences in Native Americans lives, such as systemic oppression, institutional racism, erasing of culture and other blatant displays of racism and disrespect.
Kanye West Continues to Profit From Genocidal Historical Trauma

By Danielle MillerMSNBC and other sources have quoted Kanye: “The Confederate flag represented slavery in a way,” he said. “That’s my abstract take on what I know about it, right? So I made the song ‘New Slaves’ so I took the Confederate flag and made it my flag. It’s my flag now, now what you going to do?”

Kanye chose to address his use of the confederate flag and completely ignore his disrespect of Native peoples. He continues to disrespect by ignoring Native and profiting from exploitation. He probably knows his merchandise is unethical so he will continue to ignore the issue as if it doesn’t exist. This doesn’t make him any less guilty of perpetuating racism. While he “reclaims” the confederate flag, he cannot do the same with Native American identity. What we “will do” is continue to address Kanye and let him know that he does not own our identities or our struggles. He will not profit from our oppression and historical trauma without being held accountable for his actions. We are taking sovereignty over our image, we will continue to address celebrities and anyone who has intentions to exploit, oppress or demean us.
Comment:  The "God Wants You" message is unclear but creepy. God wants a dead Indian? So the white man can take his "proper" place as conqueror of America? What's an interpretation that doesn't involve Indians dying?

For more on the subject, see Indian Skulls in Headdresses and T-Shirt Shows Skull in Headdress.

Two Amazon Indian comics

O Fruto--Roteiro de Rafael Corrêa e Desenhos de João Azeitona

The Fruit...apparently a short story casting pre-Columbian Amazon Indians as Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eve. Eating the forbidden fruit brings the evils of the Spanish conquest.

Interesting idea, but it ends up blaming the victim for being victimized. The Spanish would've came and conquered whether the Natives ate the fruit or no.

El Despertar De La Bestia

A beast attacks an Indian village in the early Spanish era. But it's just a dream...or is it? Perhaps the Spanish adventurers are the real beasts.

The art and stories on both of these look decent. I imagine the Indians are presented generically and superficially, with no real culture. But the portrayals seem positive; the Indians aren't headhunting cannibals.

October 25, 2013

Cleveland asks fans about Chief Wahoo

Cleveland Indians soliciting fans for their opinions on smiling “Chief Wahoo” logo

By Associated PressThe Indians are asking some fans for their opinions on the team’s “Chief Wahoo” logo.

As part of their annual postseason survey to gauge fan satisfaction, the team is asking fans for feedback on a variety of topics including in-game experience, uniforms and Cleveland’s smiling Indians logo, a caricature some of have labeled offensive. In the survey, fans are asked to give their stance on five statements regarding the logo. The survey asks for similar responses—on a standard, five-choice scale—on the team’s “Block C” and “Script Indians logo.”

The Indians have no immediate plans to change any of their logos.

And although not connected, the Indians’ review of their fans’ attitudes about the logos comes as the Washington Redskins are being pressured to change their nickname.
Stay or Go? Indians Fans Asked About Chief Wahoo Logo

By P.J. ZieglerThe Cleveland Indians are directly asking fans about the Chief Wahoo logo in an online survey that is circulating following the 2013 season.

The survey is used to provide the best fan experience possible and this isn’t the first time the team has asked fans about their opinion on the logo.
The Indians are surveying attitudes about Chief Wahoo

Wahoo is going, going...

Is Chief Wahoo Finally on the Way Out?

By Chris Creamer

Are “Chief Wahoo’s” days as the Cleveland Indians primary method of branding over?

It certainly feels that way.

After years and years of *very slowly* removing the Chief bit-by-bit, the controversial logo has very suddenly been almost completely eliminated for all things Cleveland Indians over the past few months.

We got our first hint that something may be on the way when coming into 2013 the Indians stopped wearing “Wahoo” on their batting helmets altogether. The Chief had previously been worn on the batting helmet every game, home-and-away, up until 2009 when it was suddenly erased from road games. In 2013 it was taken off helmets for home games as well, replaced with the simple block, red “C” logo:

Creamer's conclusion:

Is a change coming? Maybe not “officially”, the team has said in the past to SportsLogos.Net that the logo isn’t going anywhere anytime soon… but with all the attention over the Washington Redskins name lately plus these pieces of evidence shown above I’d be surprised if we see very much of the Chief, if at all for the 2014 season and beyond. Good news for most.

But Wahoo isn't problematical?

A later posting addresses the previous posting:

Cleveland Indians: "Chief Wahoo" Has Been Demoted, But Not Because Logo Is Racist

By Marc TracyCurtis Danberg, the Indians’ senior director of communications, told me Wednesday afternoon that there is not any sudden move to ditch the chief, who remains, he said, one of the three logos, along with what he called the “script Indians” and the “block C.” “It’s not reacting to anything in the news,” he said, acknowledging the controversy over the Washington football team’s name. “There’s no conspiracy theory here.” He declined to comment on the broader question of whether Chief Wahoo should and will stick around in this climate. He insisted, in a way that didn’t contradict Sportslogos.net’s account, that there has been a gradual move toward the block C, but that, he said, is more about “celebrating Cleveland.”

He did say something very interesting, however, when I brought up the new spring training uniforms. “Spring training’s a different animal,” he said, “and when we’ve been in Arizona, we’ve really focused on the block C—being in that region, in that area, we’re certainly cognizant of that.” In other words, it is apparently one thing to use the chief while in the eastern Midwest, but quite another to use him in the southwest, where (whispered voice) there are actual Native Americans. And the first year the Indians did spring training in Goodyear, Arizona, after having spent the past decade-and-a-half in Florida, was … 2009, the year they first started playing around with the block C in a bigger way. Cynical? Democratic? Whatever it takes to ditch Chief Wahoo.
Comment:  So the Cleveland Indians aren't reacting to the news? But they may be reacting to the decades of anti-Wahoo protests, which aren't exactly news? Okay.

In any case, it seems Chief Wahoo is on his way out. Nobody is screaming to retain their beloved logo and nobody is dying from his omission. Every mascot change should be this easy.

La Civilización Inca--Los Hijos del Sol

Here's a comic book about the Inca:

You can view seven pages of the story here.

Here's a description in Spanish:

La Civilización Inca: Los Hijos del Sol (Colección Relatos del Nuevo Mundo, #2)Los hijos del Sol es una historia de amor, situada en la cambiante y fascinadora geografía del Imperio Inca, desde las profundidades de la Amazonia peruana hasta la costa del Pacífico. Es, sobre todo, un viaje apasionante a aquel imperio legendario, con sus costumbres, sus rituales y con el telón de fondo de la encarnizada guerra entre Huáscar y Atahualpa, los dos hermanos pretendientes al trono, una guerra que estalló poco antes de la llegada de los españoles.Comment:  The summary says it's a love story, a passionate trip to the legendary Inca empire, set amid a war between two brothers fighting for the throne before the Spanish arrived.

October 24, 2013

University bans offensive Halloween costumes

'Offensive' Halloween costumes banned by US university

By Lucy KinderUniversity students in America have been told not to wear "offensive" Halloween costumes including cowboys, Indians and anything involving a sombrero.

Students at the University of Colorado Boulder have also been told to avoid "white trash" costumes and anything that portrays a particular culture as "over-sexualised"--which the university says includes dressing up as a geisha or a "squaw" (indigenous woman).

They are also asked not to host parties with offensive themes including those with “ghetto” or "hillbilly" themes or those associated with "crime or sex work."

In the letter sent by a university official students are asked to consider the impact that their costumes could have.

According to a student news website Christina Gonzales, the dean of students, wrote: "Making the choice to dress up as someone from another culture, either with the intention of being humorous or without the intention of being disrespectful, can lead to inaccurate and hurtful portrayals of other people's cultures.

College takes small stand against terrible Halloween costumes, annoys Fox News

The University of Colorado Boulder issued a memo asking students to think twice before wearing offensive costumes

By Katie McDonough
There is no mention in the letter of consequences for noncompliance, just the recommendation that people try harder not to be racist, sexist or otherwise clueless this Halloween.

But here is what Fox News and the National Review think the letter said: FUN IS BANNED FOREVER AT COLLEGE. RIP FUN.

Because, presumably, college students can only have fun while they are being terrible?

“Finding a Halloween costume that doesn’t terrify politically-correct college busybodies could be a challenge this year,” whines Fox News in a piece that calls the letter a warning against the “dangers of donning a costume—almost any costume.” (Emphasis mine. Mental addition of dun, dun, dun, also mine.)

And, sure, some costumes are racist but “So bloody what?” says the National Review’s Charles C. W. Cooke, prompting a stream of comments calling the university officials “fascists” for making a non-binding request of their students.
Others don't get it

Chief Wansum Tail Seeks Pocahottie: Yes, It's Halloween AgainSorry ladies, but we're calling Halloween 2013 a win for the boys.

Because Halloween in Indian country is always a horror show of snide stereotypes peddled to mainstream America as harmless costumes. Usually--like, almost always--the stereotype is the playful "Native American women are sluts." Oh, so fun. But this year we're struck by the men in the Dreamgirl "Restless Wranglers" collection of Halloween costumes: Chief Wansum Tail and Chief Big Wood.

Tribal costumes trending across nation, but not in Santa Fe

By Phaedra HaywoodOn Monday morning, 97.3 Kiss FM radio DJs Dana Cortez and The-Kandee-Man filled their drive-time show with banter about a list of the Top 10 Halloween costume ideas across the United States. Kandee gave readers a hint about the No. 1 costume idea for women—according to a list they were reading on air—saying that you might find a lot of them every day in New Mexico, but not in other places say, Texas.

The top costume idea—according to the list published on American Live Wire—Pocahontas/Native American.

“This is one of the easiest costumes to customize and accessorize to your liking,” according to the list. “Whether you want to go all out and dress like an authentic Native American, or you just want a reason to wear your moccasins …”
And:“Those costumes, overall, are probably the worst representation of Native American people,” said Douglas Miles, an Apache artist and social critic from San Carlos, Ariz., whose show What Tribe?—which examines stereotypes of Native people in media—has been traveling the Southwest this year. “As far as representing who Native people are, they are good for nothing.”

Miles said Americans are becoming more savvy. “But now,” he added, “there exists a myth that we are in a post racial society, which is really not true. We’ve made inroads, but a lot of these images are demeaning and harmful over time. And a bunch of people still don’t know they are harmful.”

Miles said he has felt a shift in Native consciousness about racial stereotypes in the past few years, but he said it wasn’t surprised that no one called the radio show to complain about the costume list because there just aren’t that many Native people to complain.
"Irresponsible and negligent"

A Native writer tells how she feels about these costumes:

The Difference Between Being a Slut & a Racist: Pochahottie Hottentot

By Ruth HopkinsAs a Native American, I can’t tell you what an absolute pain it is to traverse through aisles of costumes this time of year, especially with children in tow. Mommy doesn’t like explaining why Party City is selling a “Cheeky Cherokee” teen costume that promises to send its wearers “heading for the woods,” or why Spirit Halloween is displaying a “Naughty Navajo” mini dress that will have women “sending out smoke signals.”

Like any decent parent, I try to teach my daughter to carry herself with pride and dignity. These racist costumes, that specifically target her purely because of her race, send her the message that Native American women are viewed as sex objects. It makes her sad and angry. She knows those costumes are not who we as Native women are, and that we should not be depicted that way. Statistically, a shocking one in three Native American women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. Encouraging the public to view Native American women as disposable sex toys is more than a grave insult, it’s irresponsible and negligent.
Comment:  For more on Halloween costumes, see Can Indian Costumes Be Educational? and Native Regrets "Naughty Native" Costume.

Native regrets "Naughty Native" costume

I regret my “Naughty Native” Halloween costume

As a Native American woman, I thought my stereotypical costume was subversive. Now I know I was wrong

By Elissa Washuta
I grabbed a kit of face paint and completed the look with the gaudiest headdress on the rack, a floppy, trailing rainbow of fake feathers. The night of the party, I applied the paint in two lines on each cheek, one red and one blue. Stuffed into my fake buckskins, wearing the false headdress of the wrong gender, I was a short-haired, Technicolor monstrosity.

At the party, I tried to explain what my costume was all about, but it never came out right. “I’m dressed as a sorority girl at a Cowboys and Indians party,” I’d say, or, “I’m dressed as a white girl in a Pocahontas costume.” Confused, my friends responded, “But aren’t you just dressed in a Pocahontas costume?”
And:After years of teaching American Indian Studies at the university level, including classes on Hollywood’s twisting of the world’s conception of Indianness, I have become deeply ashamed of my night in costume. The iconic Indian maiden—slender, servile and ready to be defiled under her fitted dress—is a rotten fantasy that spoils too many people’s understanding of actual indigenous womanhood. In her sexed-up dress, the maiden becomes the spoils of war. By donning my own fake feathers, I subverted nothing. Instead, I excused Halloween racism, inviting anyone who met me to do the same—after all, they’d met an Indian girl who wore a headdress and everything. I know my ancestors saw my get-up, and I don’t think they found me clever.

Every Halloween, the campus population is peppered with people in costumes, their buy-in levels ranging from cat ears on a headband to a floor-length Jedi robe paired with an expensive-looking lightsaber. My students have their heads on straighter than I did, and I’ve never seen one of them dressed in one of the “Noble Warrior,” “Hot on the Trail,” “Pocahottie,” “Tribal Trouble,” “Sexy Tonto” or “Pow! Wow!” costumes I’ve seen for sale online. I hope that when the students step off campus, drop their books, peel off their university sweats and hoodies, and prepare for their night of spooky revelry, they remember that they’re on Duwamish and Suquamish land.
Comment:  For more on Halloween costumes, see University Bans Offensive Halloween Costumes and Can Indian Costumes Be Educational?

October 23, 2013

Geronimo and Black Hawk comics

Some Native-themed comics from around 1950.

The Savage Raids of Chief Geronimo v1 #4

Black Hawk--Tomahawk Indian War [nn]

Blackhawk Indian Tomahawk War (1951-oneshot)Avon Periodicals, 1951. Chief Black Hawk in Ambush: Black Hawk wants peace and breaks with the British, but they send two guys after him to kill him. He escapes. The Battle with the Osage Indians: This story tells how Black Hawk got his name. This kind of a story also shows how the Native American tribes were pretty much constantly at war with each other. If they had ever really totally united they might have been able to stop the white man from taking over the land. The Black Hawk Indian Tomahawk War: More on Indian wars, and how various tribes made pacts with the British, which were not honored, and the Americans, which were not honored. General Fremont: Another story showing the dishonesty of the white men as they plan to survey Indian territory to build a new railroad. Kit West and the Prince of Pioneers: Again, the typical woman, large-breasted and short-skirted, this time in buskins. A guy claims to be a prince of a foreign country but seems to bring trouble to the wagon train. He's exiled from the train and then the truth gets revealed.Comment:  Geronimo wasn't a chief and Black Hawk didn't wear a Plains headdress. Neither leader looked much like these drawings.

Obviously the main selling point is the brutal savagery of the Indians. Complete with a damsel in distress in Geronimo's case.

But this was the beginning of the revisionist era, so the contents may not reflect the covers. Around then, stories begin to admit that the white men--a few bad apples, anyway--had cheated the Indians. And the Indians--however savage and barbaric they were--were victims as much as victimizers.

White saviors in Indian comics

Two 1950-era comic books show the widespread trope of the "white savior" in Native-themed storytelling.

FirehairFirehair is a comic book character who appeared in features in the comic book anthology Rangers Comics (also known as Rangers of Freedom), published by Fiction House. Firehair premiered in Rangers Comics #21 (February, 1945) and appeared in every issue up to #65 (May 1952). She also appeared in eleven issues of her own quarterly title from Winter 1948 to Spring 1952.The mild-mannered daughter of a Boston businessman, she was attacked by white men dressed as Indians and rescued by the Dakota.Under Little Ax's care, Lynn quickly took to the tribal ways and soon grew to be the equal of any member, male or female. Dubbed Firehair by the tribe, she showed abnormal physical prowess and a single-minded ferocity in battle and ultimately surpassed everyone as a warrior.

Firehair exhibits a keen eye, a suspicious nature, a fearless attitude in the face of danger and a great deal of drive and determination. Most of the Dakota tribe look to her as a de facto leader in the absence of Chief Tehama.

White Chief of the Pawnee Indians

Apparently Pawnee Bill, who resembles Buffalo Bill, is the "White Chief" in question. I gather he's the star of this book and leads the Pawnee against other savage Indians.

For more on the white savior in Native-themed storytelling, see Dances with Wolves and Avatar.

October 22, 2013

Can Indian costumes be educational?

One woman tries to justify her daughter's Halloween costume:

Is it Ever Okay for Your Kid to Dress as Another Ethnicity for Halloween?

By Joslyn GrayLast year, one of my daughters, then age 8, said she wanted to be a Native American Princess for Halloween. I told her she could, but that I wasn't comfortable with a lot of the stereotypes about Native Americans. I had her pick a tribe to learn about, and said that if she could figure out what they wore, that I would do my best to make her a costume.

My daughter chose to learn about the Lenni Lenape, which is the tribe that originally lived in our area of Pennsylvania. She read books about the Lenape tribes from her school library, and found websites that explained that the Lenape now live all over the United States and Canada, and that many different tribes claim the Lenape as part of their heritage. She researched what traditional Lenape clothing looked like and learned that they used beads and ribbon for decoration, but not feathers like the store-bought costumes showed.

I like to sew, so together we made her a costume as close as we could to the pictures she found. It wasn't a perfect replica; I'm not about to use deerskin to make a Halloween costume. I realize that not every mom has the time or the desire to sew up a well-researched traditional Native American outfit-what about their kids? Are all cultural costumes really so bad?

Consider the words of Noel Altaha on the website Last Real Indians:

"Here is why you should care, whether you are Native or non-Native American. Dressing as someone else's culture has lasting impacts on everyone's psyche," writes Ms. Altaha, who is White Mountain Apache. "Due to European Colonization there has been a collective and continuous loss in Native communities. …So when you wear an 'Indian' or 'Savage' or 'Native American' costume you are basically stereotyping a culture, you are also making their culture a historical reference that sends a message to everyone: Native Americans no longer exist, only in history books and old western films. You are not recognizing the present day Native people who are professors, doctors, actors, and nurses who still identify with their Native culture and are successfully existing in the modern world.

"I do not want to make this all about a race issue because it more than that. This is about respecting oneself through becoming educated and it is about healing for a people who have and continue to suffer from the impacts of historical trauma."

I really do understand what Ms. Atlaha is saying. But I also think that Halloween can be an opportunity for parents to talk to their kids about all kinds of issues: you can talk about what's wrong with the Boys' Phat Pimp costume, for example, or why girls don't need to wear overly grown-up clothes. I used my daughter's Halloween costume to talk about the past and the present of Native Americans. By the time Halloween rolled around, she was telling everyone and anyone about the Walking Purchase, in which William Penn's sons bought/swindled/claimed more than a million acres of Pennsylvania land and forced the Lenape to evacuate.
Comment:  It sounds like the daughter was talking more about the past than the present.

So Joslyn Gray's position is that if you're well-off and well-educated, with a lot of spare time and the ability to sew, you can make a genuine costume and educate your children. In other words, if you're one in a million Americans--i.e., if you're Joslyn Gray--it's okay to dress your children as Indians.

I don't see much value to asserting the positive case. The negative case is the point here. The vast majority of Americans--virtually everyone--should not dress their kids as Indians. Only if you're willing to do an inordinate amount of work should you even think about it.

Costumes = cultural appropriation

Gray has done everything she could to make the Halloween costume a positive experience. But even with the educational component, I'm not persuaded by her arguments.

For starters, as I said, the costume and the history lesson reinforce the idea of Indians as primitive people of the past. What can the daughter tell us about the present-day circumstances of the Lenni Lenape? Anything?

Also, the whole thing reinforces the idea that cultural appropriation is okay. That an Indian identity is available for the taking. That non-Indians get to decide whether and how they can exploit Indians.

None of this seems okay to me. How about telling the daughter, "No, you can't dress as an Indian. There's no reason you should get something just because you want it.

"If you're interested in Indians, we'll get some books and movies and learn about them. Perhaps we can visit them and buy some of their art and crafts.

"Meanwhile, you can be a ghost or pirate or whatever. You don't need to be an Indian."

For more on Halloween costumes, see University Bans Offensive Halloween Costumes and Native Regrets "Naughty Native" Costume.

Below:  Not the author's daughter, I hope.

Onion calls Redskins owner "kike"

Were the Onion’s anti-Semitic slurs “fair game”?

The New Republic's Marc Tracy says the Onion's piece about Redskins owner Dan Snyder had value as satire

By Prachi Gupta
The Onion divided readers yesterday with a controversial story that used racial slurs to mock Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who is Jewish. The Onion described Snyder, who refuses to change the racist Washington Redskins name, as a “hook-nosed kike” and “shifty-eyed hebe”:“The Redskins represent 81 years of great history and tradition, and it’s a source of pride for our fans,” said the hook-nosed kike, stressing that the team’s insulting moniker is “absolutely not a racial slur by any means.”While the Onion has been spot on so many times this year, the satirical news organization has also thrown out some jokes of questionable taste in the past few months. This particular story walked a fine line between promoting stereotypes and making fun of those who promote stereotypes—so much so that journalists still don’t know how to react.

Though the first reaction for many (including myself) was shock, it seemed that some self-identified Jewish journalists didn’t seem to mind. In fact, they actually enjoyed it:

The New Republic’s Marc Tracy, who has written extensively about Judaism and is a Washington Redskins fan (though he refuses to say their full name, because he agrees that it is racist), told Salon there are two major reasons the Onion’s story is polarizing—the first being the obvious use of stereotypes. “Obviously it’s done to make a point,” Tracy explained via email, “but you don’t have to get into litigating the relative nastiness of ‘redskin’ versus ‘kike’ (or ‘wearing feathers’ versus ‘shifty-eyed,’ for that matter) to realize that this is a hazardous thing.”

But the other and “much more interesting” reason, according to Tracy, is that “the article plays on a Jewish/philo-Semitic tension”:…Due to their own history of persecution and stereotyping, Jews ought to be much more sensitive to the persecution and stereotyping of other marginalized groups. And the thing is, by and large, Jews are much more sensitive, and are justifiably proud, for example, that they were instrumental non-black allies of black civil rights leaders (look at Rabbi Heschel in this picture!). In fact, there is an extent to which this is what we mean by “Chosen People”–there is a religious and even theological justification for Jews’ own feelings for Jewish exceptionalism. So among Jews I think there’s an extra sense of disappointment that Snyder would not be sensitive to the problem with the name–not only as an owner and a human being, but as a Jew.

But there is a potentially dark side to this, which is that when you start saying Jews “should” be like this or “shouldn’t” be like that, it can easily slip into philo-Semitism’s closely related opposite. It’s a thin line. Maybe somebody smarter than I has codified this into a formal rule, but I try just to call it as I see it. I think The Onion piece stayed on the right side of this line.
Comment:  This posting made me uneasy too. Even though I've done similar things in my blog.

Perhaps it was the big bold headline on a major website. It would be easy to misunderstand if you glanced at the headline and didn't notice the Onion tag.

I guess I prefer the "Blackskins" approach. The made-up word and image make the same point without (potentially) offending anyone.