March 31, 2014

"Sealfies" vs. Ellen's selfie

'Sealfies' Protest Ellen DeGeneres's Anti-Seal Hunt Stance (TWEETS)Inuit are striking back against her with "#Sealfies," in which people tweet pictures of themselves in sealskin furs to counter DeGeneres's activism against what she calls "one of the most atrocious and inhumane acts against animals allowed by any government."

The protest was promoted early on by Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, an Inuk filmmaker from Iqaluit, Nunavut.

Though she considers herself an "Ellen" fan, she was disappointed when she requested that Samsung donate $1.5 million to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), an organization that is vocally opposed to the seal hunt, after she took the record-breaking "Oscars selfie" with one of the tech giant's phones.

In a blog post on Wednesday, Arnaquq-Baril encouraged people to take pictures of themselves wearing sealskins and to tweet them at DeGeneres's Twitter account with the "#Sealfie" hashtag.

Seal meat is a staple food for Inuit and they should have the right to make a living off their animals just like anyone else, she told The Canadian Press.
And:The hashtag came amid revelations that Inuit go hungry more than any other indigenous people in a developed country.

The Council of Canadian Academies reported that 35 per cent of Inuit households in Nunavut don't have enough food to eat, while 76 per cent of preschoolers skip meals and 60 per cent have gone a day without eating.

Inuit Flood Twitter With 'Sealfies' After Ellen DeGeneres Selfie Funds Hunt Haters

By David P. BallA month after Ellen DeGeneres tweeted her record-breaking celebrity-laden selfie during the Oscars on March 2—now surpassing 3.4 million retweets—Samsung's $1.5-million donation to an anti-seal hunting organization has sparked a new viral meme.

What started with a teenager’s video explaining Inuit lifeways to the star has morphed into a twitter hashtag answering “selfie” with “sealfie,” as social media–savvy Inuit—who have for millennia depended on seals for meat, clothing and trade—fire back with their own hashtag featuring photos of them garbed in seal fur coats, mittens, boots and shawls. DeGeneres, fans and Twitter followers were elated when Samsung pledged to donate copy for every retweet of DeGeneres's Oscars selfie to a charity of her choice. The trouble started when the star, who hosted the Academy Awards, designated $1.5 million for the Humane Society of the United States, an organization that campaigns strongly against the seal hunt in Canada.

The online trend was sparked after Iqaluit teenager Killaq Enuaraq-Strauss, 17, uploaded a March 23 video to YouTube imploring DeGeneres to reconsider her choice of the Humane Society of the U.S. as a designated charity for Samsung's post-Oscar donation.

“We do not hunt seals, or any animal for that matter, for fashion,” Enuaraq-Strauss said in the video. “We hunt to survive. If Canada were to ban the seal hunt, so many families would suffer, would face harsher forms of malnutrition, and wouldn't be able to afford proper clothing for the Arctic environment we live in. Even more so, another part of our culture would have been killed.”

The week in #sealfiesInuit and others across northern Canada have taken to social media to post #sealfies, or photos of themselves wearing, eating or hunting seals. It began as a protest against Ellen Degeneres’ decision to donate money from her Oscar #selfie to an organization that opposes the Canadian seal hunt. But the trend has emerged as a social phenomenon in itself—a mass collection of photographs that show how important the seal hunt is to Canadian Inuit and others.Comment:  This is reminiscent of the debate over Makah whale hunting.

On the one hand, no animal should be killed cruelly and unnecessarily. On the other hand, what's the difference between whales, seals, cows, pigs, and chickens? Only vegetarians can claim not to be hypocritical on this issue.

Heidi Klum's redface photo shoot

Heidi Klum Touts Indian-Themed Shoot for 'Germany's Next Top Model'As a judge on Project Runway, Heidi Klum had a lot of positive things to say about the work of designer Patricia Michaels, Taos Pueblo. Yet her appreciation of the Native designer's work in contemporary fashion does not seem to have been matched by an enlightened view of Native culture.

On Thursday, Klum, who is host of Germany's Next Top Model, posted a gallery on Facebook titled "Here are my beautiful GNTM girls!"

The gallery consists of 12 pictures of German models wearing feather headdress, facepaint, and fringed leather. Props include a peace pipe, tipi, and woven blanket.

Many Facebook users have expressed outrage at the images. Here are just a few of the many comments posted to the gallery.

Hanna LakotaHorse: "This is so frustrating and disheartening. And it keeps happening over and over again. Why do they think this is okay?!"

Daisy Salinas: ""This is reducing a culture (where over 10-20 million indigenous people were slaughtered) to a trendy marketable product that can be bought and sold. Not only that but Native American women are far more likely to be sexually assaulted than any other group of women in the U.S. Sexualizing and commodyifying Native American culture and aesthetics is not helping solve issues as these. You should publicly apologize for these terribly offensive photographs."

Nodwessioux Red Bear: "I will no longer support you Heidi K."

Angela Hardesty Manrique: "Unliking for life. How could you be so ignorant Heidi. This is every kind of wrong."

Heidi Klum’s Redface Photo Shoot

By Ruth HopkinsLast Thursday Ms. Thang posted a gallery on Facebook under the title, “Here are my Beautiful GNTM Girls!” Lo and behold, the spread was plum full of some of the most stereotypical, patently offensive photographs of pouty, half-naked white women posing ever-so seductively in war paint and headdresses that I’ve seen in well, months (what can I say, we’re currently plodding through an epidemic of society fetishizing Native women).

It felt like I’d just been stabbed in the back by my taller, skinnier, blonder, German big sister.

Twelve photos total featured German Fräuleins using ‘peace pipes,’ feathers, tipis, and Native blankets for props. Maybe it was just my imagination, but I thought that even the horse looked a little embarrassed.

One picture shows a model in war paint with a single tear streaming down her face. Could we get any more cliché? Now we’re appropriating pretendians? Iron Eyes Cody, the famous ‘crying Indian’ referenced by pop culture, wasn’t even Native. Apparently even appearing to be Native by association makes one fodder for exploitation.

Perhaps we should have expected this from a country full of hobbyists that like to dress up like Natives and ‘play Indian.’ No matter, both scenarios are offensive and objectionable.
The photo album in question:

Here Are My Beautiful GNTM Girls!

Comment:  For more on the subject, see Crystle Lightning = Maria Tallchief? and 13 Rock Stars in Headdresses.

Indians on US bank notes

$5 Indian NoteIn 1899, the U.S. Mint issued the first and only bank note to feature a Native American as the central portrait: Running Antelope, a celebrated chief of the Uncpapa band of Sioux.

Old and rare paper notes like this unique $5 silver certificate are amazing works of art. The intricate detail of Chief Running Antelope’s facial features and headdress are absolutely stunning. This unique bill caused quite a scandal when it was issued due to a mistake of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, who used the headdress of a rival tribe, the Pawnee, on Running Antelope.

This beautiful note was the first and only U.S. paper currency to feature a Native American.

Issued for only a short time, the $5 Indian Head Note is extremely rare and in high demand. Order yours today!

We don't have any other examples of Indians on bank notes--yet. But there's an obvious choice for such a note.

Kick Andrew Jackson Off the $20 Bill!

By Jillian KeenanIt was unfathomable that thousands of Native American men, women, and children were forced to march West, sometimes freezing to death or starving because U.S. soldiers wouldn’t let them bring extra food or blankets. It was hard to hear that the Choctaw Nation lost up to a third of its population on the death march. It was disorienting to learn that what amounted to ethnic cleansing had come at the insistence of an American president.

But then it was lunchtime, and we pulled out our wallets in the cafeteria. Andrew Jackson was there, staring out from every $20 bill. We had been carrying around portraits of a mass murderer all along, and had no idea.

Andrew Jackson engineered a genocide. He shouldn’t be on our currency.
10 Natives Who Should Replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 BillSo why would this country pay homage to such a man on its currency. Jackson has graced the $20 bill since 1929, replacing 24th President Grover Cleveland.

So we’ve compiled a list of just 10 Natives who could take Jackson’s place on the $20 bill. Who do you think it should be?

Sequoyah, born in Tennessee sometime between 1760 and 1780, was a skilled blacksmith, silversmith and engraver who wanted a way to sign his name on his work. By 1809, he was working on a written syllabary—or a symbol for every Cherokee word. He soon turned to phonetic symbols that represented the 85 distinct syllables in the Native language.

Comment:  For more on currency, see 2016 Sacagawea Dollar Designs and Aboriginal Art Removed from Canada's $20 Bill.

March 30, 2014

Debating Colbert's "ching-chong" joke

In the controversy over Colbert "ching-chong" joke, some people took the #CancelColbert campaign (too) seriously:

No, we shouldn’t #CancelColbert

The outrage over a tweet shows how much umbrage we can take

By Mary Elizabeth Williams
“The Colbert Show’s” entire shtick is based on the parody of the right-wing blowhard, and as such it’s consistently taken clever jabs at the issues of race in our country. And it’s understood that if you want to have a successful, middle-aged white man take on these topics, there’s something to be said for dressing him up as a character. Yet as a colleague wisely noted this morning, there is a limit to how much these Caucasian male-dominated venues like “The Colbert Report” and the Onion can get away with on the subject of race. And most of us with any sensitivity whatsoever understand that one person’s biting satire is another’s insult. The only thing that distinguishes a joke is whether it works or not, and in this case, what got a laugh on TV fell flat on Twitter. It’s reasonable to point these things out, and to point them out in the context of how the media represents these issues in general.

But as a full-time, professional offended feminist, I’ve got to say that we all undercut the serious points we may be trying to make about changing the conversation when the response to something that we deem inappropriate is a full-on demand for somebody’s head. Aside from the fact that it’s ludicrous to think for a moment that a network is going to cancel an award-winning, successful show because of a poorly executed tweet, it’s just plain arrogant to even call for it. It gets attention, and maybe that’s the ultimate point, but it also says that if we see something we don’t like, we are justified in trying to eradicate it entirely. That’s an extreme and intellectually unsophisticated response. Earlier this month, a similar case of misplaced self-righteousness blew up when a University of California at Santa Barbara professor took and allegedly destroyed an abortion protester’s sign, telling her, “I may be a thief but you’re a terrorist,” and claiming that she’d been “triggered.”
Twitter killed Stephen Colbert’s joke

An uproar to cancel "Colbert Report" over possibly insensitive joke says more about the Internet than the satirist

By Neil Drumming
Critics of the tweet say it violates a cardinal rule of satire, which is that it fails to target power and/or authority, but instead goes after the oppressed. That may be true of the words excerpted without proper context. But if you watch the entire routine that aired on Comedy Central on Wednesday night, it seems fairly obvious that Colbert and his writers are going after a deserving target, that is, Snyder et al.

So, when you think about it, it’s really Twitter that ruined Colbert’s totally legitimate dig. (I don’t suppose anyone’s down to get behind #CancelTwitter at this point, though.) Someone at @ColbertReport probably should have realized that not all of the long-winded host’s humor can be disseminated as bite-size chunks. Honestly, the best part of the joke—a tag about triangle hats—didn’t even make the feed. Maybe someone at the office should be held accountable for not knowing how Twitter works—but that doesn’t sound like a firing offense. I mean, really, “The Colbert Show” has given us so much pleasure over the years.

But the fact that a joke died on the Internet yesterday is not the problem here. The most unfortunate result is that now all over cyberspace--and regular space—folks are asking themselves whether or not “The Colbert Report” should be taken off the air instead of asking, “Wait, why are they still called the Redskins?”

Racism in "satire" = racism

Others thought the "joke" went awry. Whether they agreed with #CancelColbert or not, they were with okay with criticizing Colbert's insensitivity.

In support of #CancelColbert: Why Stephen Colbert needs to make this right

I’m a Colbert fan and know he was trying to expose the absurdity of slurs against Natives. But here’s why it failed

By Brittney Cooper
[W]hite people do not have a history of being devalued as white people on the basis of the slurs. Yes, Irish Americans, Italian Americans and Polish Americans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were frequently the object of ethnic epithets and discrimination. But as those groups “became white,” whiteness itself became what Cheryl Harris calls a form of property, a protection against racial devaluing. So when Colbert, a white male, uses these slurs, even in the mode of critique, he steps into incredibly muddy water, and surely cannot expect to come out unsoiled.

In other words, I’m saying that though the bit was intended to critique racism, it failed. Yes, Colbert was spot on in his analysis of the ridiculousness of Dan Snyder’s “Original Americans” Foundation. But to paraphrase one of my Twitter-locutors, Chris Robinson, you can’t make Asian people collateral damage on your way to proving a point about racism toward Native people.

And what we should understand is that as satire goes, there is the thinnest of lines between critiquing racism and reinforcing or reinscribing those very stereotypes. Remember the 2008 cover of the New Yorker, called “The Politics of Fear,” that attempted to satirize the range of racist mischaracterizations of the Obamas. It communicated the absurdity of those stereotypes, but did not communicate an alternative narrative, that would effectively combat the stereotypes at hand.
And:If Colbert had used the N-word instead to prove his point about Natives, we would have been outraged. And we would have seen #CancelColbert as the only appropriate response. Yet, many of the folks I dialogued with felt that calls to cancel the show were too much, and suggested that an apology was more appropriate.

One, we never get to tell the harmed group what the proper response to racial injury should be for them. Two, rather than critiquing the strategy, why not simply send a tweet or email demanding an apology? Solidarity is rarely simple, but choosing not to minimize someone else’s struggle is quite easy.

We have to learn ways to be in solidarity with one another. Increasingly, racism does not follow a simple white-on-black schema. And while I’m well aware of the pervasiveness of anti-black racism among all groups including Asians and Latinos, I also know Orientalism (Edward Said’s term) when I see it. And it is unacceptable. Black folks should be against all forms of othering, ethnic insensitivity and racism. Period.
Don’t #CancelColbert, just hire more writers of color

An out-of-context joke went viral on Twitter and sparked a national debate about the limits of satire

By Prachi Gupta
But in the segment, Colbert built the punch line upon a cringe-worthy depiction of a “Chinaman” that went on for long enough to wonder if the humor in the segment was derived from Colbert’s mockery of Dan Snyder, or his actual impression and its finely crafted puns at the expense of Asians. As Brittney Cooper, generally a fan of Colbert, wrote for Salon, “By using language that seemingly sounds like how Asian Americans talk, Colbert’s bit communicated absurdity but also seemed to suggest that all Asians really do speak this way.”And:With more non-white people, more women, more LGBTQ people, more people who are just not straight white dudes, the humor expands to become more inclusive and original. More people will be able to say, “Hey, maybe this is not the best way to present X,” or “This sort of bothers me and might alienate other people, too.” We routinely see edgier stuff coming from diversity in television, and as audiences, we’re less confused about whether what we’re watching is punching down on a minority, or punching up on a minority’s behalf.

Why the "joke" failed

Why Colbert’s Joke Failed #NotYourSafeComedyRace

By InitAs an Asian American, I know that what Colbert the persona is saying is racist. Therefore, it’s easy for me to draw the conclusion that because what Colbert is saying is racist, what Dan Snyder is doing is also racist. And were Colbert’s whole audience composed principally of Asian Americans, this would have worked, because everybody is in on the joke.

However, where The Colbert Report‘s satire fails is that a significant portion of The Colbert Report‘s audience does not intuitively or instinctively believe in their guts that saying “Ching Chong Ding Dong” or using the term “Orientals” is necessarily racist. Not everybody who laughs at “Ching Chong Ding Dong” is laughing because Colbert the character is so stupidly racist, but they are laughing at Asians. I believe this to be the case because this kind of anti-Asian dialog is still common in our society and is not immediately countered by most of society for being racist. It only becomes a problem, like for Rosie O’Donnell and her ching-chonging on The View, when Asians and anti-racists mobilize and call the offender out on it.

In Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal,” he calls for the sale of Irish children as food for the wealthy in order to resolve poverty. It is unconscionable and undeniably wrong, No one could call for such a thing in society without immediate reaction and knowing that it is wrong.

In order to properly satirize Snyder, then Colbert would have to say something that is undeniably racist to the whole of his audience. However, as we know, offense against Asians isn’t undeniably racist to the public because the outrage against the use of the word “Ching Chong Ding Dong” nor the casting of Asians as “sensitive” does not come from the whole of the public, but primarily from Asian Americans and their allies in the anti-racist movement.
Comment:  This applies to many so-called "satires" of racism. For instance, every time South Park or Family Guy shows an Indian in leathers and feathers. These instances reinforce the dominant stereotypes, not critique them. Many Americans think they're true, not false, so they don't get the so-called joke.

Same with the New Yorker cover (above). A substantial minority of Americans thinks Obama is a foreigner and a Muslim. How is it a "satire" to reproduce their false beliefs without commentary?

Same with Colbert's "ching-chong" joke. No one knows what percentage of Americans "gets" that Asians talk in a normal voice, not in a sing-song cadence. If the "joke" failed to register with some people, it failed, period.

Then there's a whole subconscious level of perception going on. Where do people get the idea that Indians are savages or blacks are criminals? From movies and TV shows--including "satires" such as The Colbert Report.

That's true even though people "know," superficially, that stereotypes are false. Deep down, seeing or hearing is believing. People absorb stereotypical messages even when they think they know better. Especially when the messages repeated over and over.

For more on the subject, see:

Stereotyping explained to South Park apologists
Tomahawk Tassels stereotypes Native women
"Jokes" without punchlines are racist
The Dudesons, Polish jokes, and minstrel shows
Okay to stereotype in "satires"?

Snyder's money-based morality

Some thoughts on the morality of Dan Snyder's Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation (OAF).

Dan Snyder can't buy his way out of bigotryNow here's Dan Snyder to take "conscience laundering" to a new ridiculous height.

Even if Snyder gave up every dollar in his bank account and moved to the reservation, the name of the Washington team would still be a bigoted--and completely unnecessary--slur against Native Americans. We already have a ridiculous wealth gap in this country--are we really going to let our billionaires now buy the privilege to be racially offensive if they want to be? I hope not.
Yes, Dan Snyder’s Latest Maneuver Is a Shameless PR Stunt. But Why Not Let Him Give Away Some Money?

By Mike MaddenLet's stipulate a few things. One, Dan Snyder is not Washington City Paper's favorite billionaire. Two, his team's name is racist and needs to be changed. Three, it's entirely possible this obvious PR ploy will turn out to be complete bullshit; the letter from Snyder (printed below) doesn't specify how much money he's putting into the effort, nor does it even say whether the Original Americans Foundation will be an actual nonprofit venture. Four, it's probably Lanny Davis' idea. Five, this is some condescending nonsense that only underscores how obnoxious Snyder's position is:

For too long, the struggles of Native Americans have been ignored, unnoticed and unresolved. As a team, we have honored them through our words and on the field, but now we will honor them through our actions. We commit to the tribes that we stand together with you, to help you build a brighter future for your communities.

The new foundation, Snyder claims, is working on "over forty" projects besides the handful it's already finished, like giving coats and shoes to some tribes or helping the Omaha Tribe in Nebraska buy a backhoe. Could the Pigskins, or Snyder personally, have easily donated the full cost of a backhoe many times over without noticing it? Yes. Is the whole effort a transparent ploy to defend against criticism of the name? Certainly. But why shouldn't Snyder give some money to people while he's being obstinate? Ultimately, even if Snyder's foundation buys him some more time using the racist name before he finally realizes he could cash in on sales of merchandise with a new brand, at least 3,000 people had winter coats this year that he paid for.
Dan Snyder Thinks You're Stupid

By Tomas RiosA rising tide of decency has placed Snyder in the unfamiliar position of public accountability because--and prepare yourself for the shock of the following statement--it turns out that super-rich racist white guys can never admit to being wrong about anything ever forever. In Snyder's case, it's his quixotic quest to prove that it's OK to own a football team named the Redskins, which, according to his letter, is a totally cool slur to use around Native Americans:

"I've been encouraged by the thousands of fans across the country who support keeping the Redskins tradition alive. Most--by overwhelming majorities--find our name to be rooted in pride for our shared heritage and values."

Yes, the super-rich racist white guy has decided for us that "redskin" is a perfectly acceptable slur that Native Americans love. If the prior choice of words seems offensive, consider which words are causing you offense. Anyway, this is all quite the trick to pull off, so Snyder's belief in your stupidity has compelled him to hit you with some grade-school misdirection. Armed with his self-aggrandizing conclusion after touring 26 tribal reservations covering 20 states, Snyder would also like to draw our attention to the outcome of the United States' centuries-long campaign of genocide and dehumanization against Native Americans.

As if to demonstrate how detached he is from any sense of irony, Snyder rattles off the same statistics that Native American advocates have long cited to demonstrate how casual use of the redskin slur reflects the entrenched marginalization of Native Americans. Predictably, it took Snyder--a dim simulacrum of a thinking, feeling human--the experience of seeing it for himself to feign the concern that he has happily ignored.
Hush Money and Ransom: An Open Letter to Dan Snyder, the Idiot

By Gyasi RossYou generally don't want to have press releases and web pages dedicated to hush money…that's just dumb. Announcing that you're starting this foundation dedicated to Native people simply brings attention that you're PLAINLY trying to buy us off. It COULDA maybe worked if you had simply started doing some work within our communities on the low and tried to build some credibility. But to announce it beforehand with no coalitions being built? Now, just like any other ethnic group, we're pretty sharp even if not every one of our members is brilliant. But…c'mon Dan, we're smarter than this and smarter than you—we're not falling for the banana in the tailpipe. Dummy.And:Finally, your actions are just overall transparent—you reek of a privileged white man who has enough money to cover his tracks. I'm not going to say that you've committed actual crimes and got out of them because of your money but…it wouldn't surprise me. You're USED to being able to pick on Natives, or women or Black folks or Homosexuals. You're USED to getting away with it after you pick on us and do repugnant isht. We see that. We smell it on you every single time you talk. Dummy.Hansen: Odd gift links Omaha Tribe to owner who won't give up 'Redskins'

By Matthew HansenWhich makes the recent gift that the Omaha Tribe received half uplifting and half heartbreaking.

It’s uplifting because the tribe received a new backhoe, one that will make it easier to repair water main breaks.

And it’s heartbreaking because that gift comes from a new foundation run by Daniel Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins — the same man who steadfastly refuses to change a mascot name that some Native Americans compare to the N-word.

“He’s like the bully who beats you up and then offers you a Band-Aid afterward,” says Edouardo Zendejas, the director of UNO’s Native American Studies program and a member of the Omaha Tribe who once served as the tribe’s general counsel. “So the bully can say, ‘Look everyone! I’m helping!’ ”
Comment:  My tweets on the subject

BlueCornComics ‏@bluecorncomics Mar 24
Coats, shoes, and backhoe? What's that...$20K? Let us know when you reach $20 billion and we'll take you seriously.

Bluecorncomics ‏@bluecorncomics Mar 25
Snyder plans another 40 projects at what, $10K a pop? For 566 tribes and 5.2 million people, that's a PR budget, not a serious charity.

BlueCornComics ‏@bluecorncomics Mar 28
There's no truth to the rumor that Snyder will list OAF expenses on his 2014 taxes as a #Redskins "franchise and trademark protection fee."

BlueCornComics ‏@bluecorncomics Apr 03
Just listened to the short video of Gary Edwards, #Redskins OAF. Note he says the primary mission is to raise "awareness," NOT to spend $$$.

BlueCornComics ‏@bluecorncomics Mar 27
Dan Snyder = #Redskins OAF. That is all.

March 29, 2014

Colbert's joke vs. mascot satires

My take on the Colbert "ching-chong" controversy, recounted here:

Offensive tweet launches #CancelColbert trend, but Stephen Colbert says he’s not responsible

Interesting case study of how (not) to do satire.

The tweet certainly seems offensive on the face of it. But the same quote appeared "in context" as part of Colbert's report on the Redskins.

So the context is necessary for the "joke" to work. And so is the meta-context: that Colbert is only playing a right-wing racist.

If your satire requires everyone to understand the context and the meta-context, it's arguably a failure. Satire should be self-evident without the layers of context. If the quote seems racist on its own, perhaps it's racist "in context" as well.

People have been saying women, blacks, gays et al. are [insert negative adjective here] forever, then claiming it's a "joke" or a "satire." I suspect that's what they said when someone criticized blackface performances or Amos 'n' Andy. "We don't really think these people are buffoons. We were just having fun."

Colbert's defense is basically the same. And I don't buy it in either case. Again, if the satire is indistinguishable from the racist reality, there's no satire. There's only the racist reality.

For a similar controversy, see:

'The Onion' Draws Criticism for a Tweet About Quvenzhané Wallis

Colbert = Onion = Rickles

This posting led to a discussion with some Facebook friends:I see what you're saying, Rob, but I think Colbert is noteworthy enough to sort of provide his own context at this point. I think it was a huge mistake for him to tweet the joke where it didn't have the benefit of the audio visual background. I think most people would still react with "Oh, Colbert."

It was definitely in poor taste, but I wouldn't call it racist or compare it to the "jokes" that real racists say.
I'm not exactly saying he's racist. But I think he comes from a white-privileged position that makes him somewhat tone-deaf. He thinks making a racist Asian joke to satirize racism against Natives is harmless because, well, he's white and neither form of racism affects him. He's not well-qualified to judge how a minority person might react.

The people who would say "Oh, Colbert" would also say "Oh, the Onion" (in the example above). They'd also say "Oh, Don Rickles" or "Oh, Rush Limbaugh"...he mocks everyone. So again, who's famous enough as a comedian or a critic to get away with these comments?

How do you draw the dividing line between, say, Colbert and Limbaugh, who could both utter the same line and both say they were joking? And if the audience has to make these meta-contextual decisions about who's joking and who's not, how is that not an immediate failure? If you have to decode a satire, that means it hasn't worked.

I'm guessing close to 100% of the population understood what Colbert was doing--including the conservatives who criticized him. But understanding his intent doesn't necessarily negate the effects.

He's putting it out there that Asians speak in a "ching-chong" way, even as a joke. I'd suggest this influences people the same as every other stereotype: blacks are criminals, Indians are savages, Arabs are terrorists, etc. Even if people say they get the joke on an intellectual level, it may affect their beliefs.

Let's put it this way. Can you prove stereotypes like "ching-chong" do not affect people's perceptions on a subconscious or irrational level? If not, then it's best to avoid them. Even as "jokes" intended to make a point about something else.

Are mascot satires different?I have seen a bunch of cartoons and posters that compare naming teams "Redskins" to naming teams "Sp-des", "Ki-es", etc. I am not saying what Colbert did was that funny, but how is it different from these other examples?

Depending on the circumstances, there are several potential differences:

1) Political cartoons are often labeled as political cartoons. Images of fake mascots such as the "Chicago Kikes" or "Atlanta Spades" are often captioned with a phrase such as, "How would you like these mascots?" One way or another, they're often labeled as parodies or the like.

2) Words such as "spades" and "kikes" are slurs rather than stereotypes. Obviously they're negative, but they don't describe someone's appearance or behavior. The "ching-chong" voice, like an Indian in a headdress or an Arab with a bomb, does.

3) A cartoon or image makes only a momentary impression. It's not a bit that goes on for a minute and then gets retweeted, compounding the problem.

Overall, it probably goes back to the context question. In the context of a critical analysis of mascots, for instance, a "Chicago Kikes" banner might be an acceptable way to make a point.

But you probably wouldn't go to an NFL game, wave the same banner for an hour, and later explain you were satirizing the Redskins. Some people would get the "satire" and some probably wouldn't.

Even if they understood the intent, Jews might say, "We got the point in the first three seconds. The other 59:57 of banner waving just offended us. The banner didn't change over the hour, but the effect shifted from satirizing a slur to perpetuating it."

For more on the subject, see:

Stereotyping explained to South Park apologists
Tomahawk Tassels stereotypes Native women
"Jokes" without punchlines are racist
The Dudesons, Polish jokes, and minstrel shows
Okay to stereotype in "satires"?

Below:  Stereotypes or satire of stereotypes? What's the difference, if any?

Equinox the Cree superhero

Equinox, new Cree teen superhero, joins DC Comics lineup

Justice League Canada's new heroine created by comic artist Jeff LemireAn interest in Canada's First Nations stories and a desire to share a different perspective than typically shared in general society and the media played a major part in Lemire's vision.

The result: along with the Justice League's Canadian relocation comes the brand-new heroine Equinox: a 16-year-old Cree teen from Moose Factory named Miiyahbin, whose power stems from the Earth and changes with the seasons.

"Creating a teenage female superhero was interesting to me because, generally, most superheroes are white males. We need diversity and we need different personalities," Lemire said.

"You need very distinct voices for personalities on the team or else you just start writing the same character in a different costume."

Multiple research trips north proved illuminating and rewarding for Lemire. He spent time in grade school classrooms, soaked up the local scene (including an abandoned NORAD base and trap-line visits) in Moosonee and Moose Factory and got feedback on his ideas from residents.

Moose Factory musician and comic fan Nathan Cheechoo, for instance, advised Lemire to “take away all that stereotypical imagery and get down to basic principles” in his depictions.

Teenage Cree Superhero Makes DC Comics Debut in AprilEquinox, a superhero modeled on real-life First Nation teens, is set to make her debut in the DC Comics publication Justice League United.

Comic creator Jeff Lemire said in October that he was inspired by the legacy of the late Shannen Koostachin, of the Attawapiskat First Nation, who advocated for improved education for Aboriginal youth. Koostachin was killed in a car accident in 2010 at age 15.
And:If the art released by DC Comics is any indicator, Lemire is on the right track. As one ICTMN reader wrote on Facebook, "I love it--no buckskin or feathers necessary!"

Lemire also told CBC that he's not sure what will happen to Equinox after her five-issue stint in Justice League comes to an end, but that his visits with Aboriginal communities have given him a larger perspective: "If I end up going [north] a few times and teaching kids how to draw or about comics, and 10 years from now some kid from James Bay ends up writing or drawing [his or her] own comics, then none of that other stuff will matter because the project was worth it."
Meet JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITED's EQUINOX--DC's New Teenage Cree Superhero

By Lucas SiegelEquinox is a 16-year-old Cree whose civilian name is Miiyahbin. Her powers are seasonally based and connected to the Earth (though CBC naturally didn’t get into exactly how/what they’ll do), and Lemire hopes to use her stories to share the world of the Cree. He took multiple trips to Moosonee and Moose Factory and enlisted the help of actual Cree people to help him get away from stereotypes and into the real heart of the people. The ultimate goal? “We need diversity and we need different personalities,” Lemire said. “Creating a teenage female superhero was interesting to me because, generally, most superheroes are white males.”

Equinox comes on the heels of Marvel Comics releasing the new Ms. Marvel, starring a Pakistani-American girl named Kamala Khan. That series’ first two issues have charted at #1 on digital comics distributor comiXology in the US and several international markets.
Comment:  Equinox looks like a great creation: 1) Good costume. 2) Powers (perhaps heat and cold) could be interesting if they vary by season. 3) Based on a real person, well-researched, with care and respect.

For more on the subject, see Comic Books Featuring Indians.

March 28, 2014

Redskins foundation CEO wasted funds

Cherokee man serves as CEO of 'Original Americans Foundation'Gary L. Edwards, a member of the Cherokee Nation, is serving as the chief executive officer of the new "Original Americans Foundation" started by the owner of the Washington professional football team.

Edwards is well known in Indian Country for his law enforcement background. He recently retired from the U.S. Secret Service and serves as CEO of the National Native American Law Enforcement Association.

Edwards told The Washington Post that he has "no problem" with the team's racist mascot. He also said anyone who question the sincerity of owner Dan "Snyder is "uninformed."

"All you have to do is go back and look at the NFL and you’ve got to look at their diversity policy where it talks about respect, where it talks about inclusion, where it talks about opportunities for all people in America, to all races in America, and probably one of the ones that have been left out the most is Indian Country, and Dan, through this awareness of the surveys and the things going on, he realized, ‘Hey, we can do more,'" Edwards told the paper.
Redskins foundation head drew criticism in I.G. report

By Brent SchrotenboerThe head of the Washington NFL team's new foundation for Native Americans also oversees an association that a 2012 government report said provided "no benefit" in exchange for almost $1 million in federal funds intended to help Native Americans.

Gary Edwards, a Cherokee and retired member of the U.S. Secret Service, was hired to run the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation, a charity created by team owner Daniel Snyder. The charity aims to assist Native Americans as Snyder continues to rebut criticism that his team's nickname is offensive.

"Even though I am a Vikings fan, I hope Dan Snyder does more background research on his team's potential draft picks than it appears he did on his foundation's CEO," U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), a co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus, told USA TODAY Sports.

Edwards is CEO of the National Native American Law Enforcement Association (NNALEA), a nonprofit whose contract with the Bureau of Indian Affairs was scrutinized in a report by the federal Office of Inspector General. The May 2012 report said that the NNALEA took advantage of the government in a contract that called for the NNALEA to help recruit "critically needed" law enforcement officers to work in Indian Country.

The government "received no benefit when they awarded a recruitment services contract to NNALEA, thus wasting almost $1 million," the report states.

The report says the NNALEA provided the government with 748 applications, "none of which were of use to" the Office of Justice Services, the report states.
CEO of new Washington Redskins foundation connected to ‘defective’ federal contract

By Theresa Vargas and Tom JackmanThe investigation, outlined in a 2012 inspector general’s report, found that of the 748 applications the organization supplied, none were usable. One applicant was 80 years old. Several were not U.S. citizens. Of the 514 applications reviewed by the inspector general’s office, only 22 were of Indian descent. The inspector general’s office advised that the contract be terminated immediately, and it was. But then the bureau paid Edwards’s group an additional $600,000 as “settlement costs,” meaning it received almost the entire $1 million of the contract.

This week, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder introduced Edwards—first in a letter to fans and then at a meeting with fellow National Football League team owners—as the head of the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation. The foundation, according to Snyder’s letter, “will address the urgent challenges plaguing Indian country based on what tribal leaders tell us they need most.” Already, it has donated 3,000 coats to Native Americans and helped purchased a backhoe for a tribe.

On Tuesday, team General Manager Bruce Allen praised Edwards, a Cherokee and retired deputy assistant director of the U.S. Secret Service, on a video broadcast, saying, “I think we have the right leader in Gary Edwards.”

Edwards did not respond to attempts to reach him Thursday, but in a statement released through the team, he said his organization “believes it met and exceeded all of its obligations under the contract with the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Office of Justice Services, and subsequently was paid after the contract was completed.”
Botched Job Taints Resume of Dan Snyder's New Native Friend

By Gale Courey ToensingAn interesting choice, observed Carly Hare, Pawnee/Yankton and the executive director of Native Americans in Philanthropy. “There are a number of amazing Native foundation leaders who could have been a strong advisory resource.”

Hare, like so many other Native Americans, was not thrilled at the announcement of Snyder’s OAF. She wrote, “I woke up to Dan Snyder's letter on my phone and the message: ‘Poverty Porn meets White Privilege in taking Cultural Appropriations to a whole 'nother level. Mind blowing... full inception.’”

The OIG’s investigation of Edwards’ contract with the BIA was aimed at finding out if the BIA’s Office of Justice Services (OJS) received the intended benefits by awarding a $1 million contract to NNALEA to provide 500 qualified Native American law enforcement applicants to serve in law enforcement positions on reservations. Qualified applicants had to meet legislative requirements, regulations and guidelines for employment of federal law enforcement officers, such as Indian preference, citizenship, age parameters and education.

The OIG’s May 9, 2012, investigation report came down hard on both the BIA and NNALEA. “We found that the OJS received no benefit when they awarded a recruitment services contract to NNALEA, thus wasting almost $1 million.”
BIA acknowledges 'failed' contract with head of team's foundationThe Bureau of Indian Affairs said it has implemented new procedures in response to a "failed" contract with the leader of the controversial Original Americans Foundation.

“After the current Office of Justice Services (OJS) management became aware of the previous Bureau of Indian Affairs’ (BIA) Law Enforcement Recruitment Services Contract with the National Native American Law Enforcement Association (NNALEA), the issues that surrounded the failed contract award highlighted the need to improve the administrative guidance and support available to OJS management and field staff," the BIA said in a statement. "OJS has implemented several measures to ensure OJS staff have the appropriate guidance when developing future contracts and are adhering to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)."
Comment:  I just listened to the short video of Gary Edwards, #Redskins OAF. Note that he says the foundation's primary mission is to raise "awareness," not to spend money. I think it's safe to assume OAF won't have a significant impact on Indian country.

For more on OAF, see Deconstructing Snyder's OAF Letter and Indian Country Scorns Redskins Foundation.

Colbert criticized for "ching-chong" joke

People Want 'The Colbert Report' Canceled Over Asian Joke

By Catherine ThompsonTwitter users aimed to get the hashtag #CancelColbert trending on Thursday night after the official Twitter account for "The Colbert Report" posted a joke about Asian stereotypes out of context.

The now-deleted tweet read "I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever."

That was a quote taken directly from a segment on Wednesday's show that lampooned Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who announced he created the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation to aid Native American tribes while ignoring calls to change the football team's much-maligned name.

For context, here's how the "Ching-Chong Ding-Dong" reference came up in Wednesday's segment:Folks, this move by Dan Snyder inspires me, because my show has frequently come under attack for having a so-called offensive mascot. My beloved character Ching-Chong Ding-Dong…the point is, offensive or not—not—Ching-Chong is part of the unique heritage of the Colbert Nation that cannot change. But I’m willing to show the Asian community that I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitive to Orientals or Whatever.

Stephen Colbert Accused of Racism With #CancelColbert Campaign

By Alex StedmanThe joke was taken from a bit on Wednesday night’s “The Colbert Report,” parodying Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder and his launch of the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation in light of controversy over the team name. Taken out of context, however, many Twitter users saw the joke as racist, and launched a #CancelColbert campaign that quickly became a trending topic.And:“The Colbert Report” Twitter clarified that the account is not run by Colbert himself.

For the record @ColbertReport is not controlled by Stephen Colbert or his show. He is @StephenAtHome Sorry for the confusion #CancelColbert—
The Colbert Report (@ColbertReport) March 28, 2014

This is a Comedy Central account, with no oversight from Stephen/show. Here is quoted line in context #cancelcolbert—
The Colbert Report (@ColbertReport) March 28, 2014
TV’s Colbert Report in slur stir over tweet

By Soraya Nadia McDonaldSnyder was pilloried by the online Native American community Monday night after releasing a four-page letter saying that he would be creating the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation. Many were outraged by what they felt was an ersatz show of support from the man who refuses to change the team’s name, which many consider a slur.

But things didn’t go much better for Colbert, who became the target of a #CancelColbert Twitter hashtag started by those who found the tweet offensive. Suey Park, the hashtag activist responsible for #NotYourAsianSidekick, said she would continue calling for Colbert’s job until he issued an apology.

Some felt #CancelColbert was derailing and distracting from the original issue, Snyder, the team name he won’t change, and #NotYourMascot.
This Washington Post article, above, was noteworthy for using one of my tweets:

True, I was merely quoting the article I tweeted. And the quote is something many people have said in various ways. But I guess it was the perfect choice of quote as far as the Post was concerned.

March 27, 2014

Research affirms harm of mascots

Critics: Redskins' Snyder misguided with foundation

By Erik BradyClinical psychologist Michael Friedman thinks Daniel Snyder is running a classic misdirection play with his newly created foundation that will give money for select American Indian causes.

Snyder said in a letter to fans of his Washington NFL team that the foundation, formally announced Tuesday, was born of his discovery that American Indians live with high rates of poverty, suicide and alcoholism.

"Racial discrimination is one of the things that perpetuates these kinds of problems," Friedman told USA TODAY Sports. "It is a false dichotomy to say Native Americans have to decide between either working on problems like poverty or being concerned about a dictionary-defined racial slur. By juxtaposing that, he seems to be trying to say that you can't do both."

Friedman's social science research shows a link between use of racial epithets such as the one he calls the R-word and the self-esteem of native peoples, which he said is precisely what's at stake with such pernicious issues as suicide and alcoholism.
Professor affirms effects of Indian mascots

By Jack RooneyStephanie Fryberg, a visiting professor of psychology at the University of Washington, presented her research Tuesday on the psychological effects of American Indian sports mascots, which affirmed these types of social representations depress the self-esteem of American Indian students.

Fryberg’s lecture, titled “From Stereotyping to Invisibility: The Psychological Consequences of Using American Indian Mascots,” highlighted several studies she and her colleagues have performed.
One of Fryberg's studies:

Of Warrior Chiefs and Indian Princesses: The Psychological Consequences of American Indian Mascots

Comment:  For more on the subject, see The Harm of Native Stereotyping: Facts and Evidence.

Reid: Redskins will change name

Reid: Washington Redskins Owner Getting Tax Break From Aid To Native Americans

By Igor Bobic“Dan Snyder, he’s got a great new deal,” Reid told the Washington Post in an interview published Thursday. “He’s going to throw a few blankets to the Indians and get a tax deduction for it. I can’t imagine why the man doesn’t realize that the name is going to change. It’s only a question of when it’s going to change. That’s the only question.”

Reid added that Snyder was on the wrong side of history, and that the name, which many believe to be a racial slur, will be changed "within the next three years."
Harry Reid: Redskins name will be changed within 3 years

By Ryan Wilson“I think the name will be changed within the next three years,” he said. “You know, I may slip a year or two, but I think it's just a question of time. Because Native Americans are organized. We have Native Americans who now are not all poor. We've got these Indian gaming establishments who have money, who are gonna help with this. And Dan Snyder's not the only person in the world with money. ...

“Snyder has to realize, he is on the losing side of history,” Reid continued. “And the sooner he does it, the better off we are. The Wizards, you know, they were the Washington Bullets. With all the killing that took place, the murders in Washington, Abe Pollin--a very nice man--decided 'I don't need any of this.' So they changed it to the Washington Wizards. We're all used to the Washington Wizards. And I don't know what [the Redskins will] change the name to, but we'll get used to it really quick.”

March 26, 2014

Deconstructing Snyder's OAF letter

Critics had many things to say about Dan Snyder's letter announcing the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation (OAF). Few of them were complimentary.

Baffoe: Daniel Snyder Wrote Another Awful Letter

By Tim BaffoeIt’s pretty amazing that Daniel Snyder made his fortune in marketing, for he’s the public relations equivalent of butt cancer. In his desperate quest to have racism condoned, the owner of the Washington NFL team is back at the letter-writing thing again, explaining how he should be allowed to exploit Native Americans via mascoting them.And:Snyder garners support from passive and active racists alike who love to point out that some Indians aren’t offended by the Washington team name while failing to consider that something is wrong when a word offends any amount of people at all. Insensitivity doesn’t need a quota.

But there’s no time to consider that because Snyder quickly moves on to rounding up the “Aren’t there more important issues we should be dealing with?” crowd and points out how there are important issues facing Native American communities that are bigger than a football team name. Because sound logic dictates that we should ignore less significant issues that can easily be resolved in favor of the big ones that will take a whole lot of time and money to fix.

Snyder, of course, happens to have a bunch of money that he uses for things like resisting a call for changing a team name that many consider a slur. So at the end of page two of his love letter to himself he says that he is creating the Washington (holy crap, he actually put the offensive word in the charity’s name) Original Americans Foundation. Fitting that something named so astoundingly poorly has the acronym OAF.

The rest of the letter gives examples of what a great thing this great man is doing for these great people whose plight this great man is using to sugarcoat his vice grip on a great harmful team name and about the heritage and tradition of the team whose heritage and tradition is actually greatly awful. The letter is the quid pro quo of a bad guy who also sprinkles in some bold and italicized font to let you know he means business about this charity, which he’s using as a shield for his own bratty refusal to be a decent human being because it would mean admitting he is wrong about something, and megalomaniacs don’t do that. Then he signs it “Dan” because he’s your buddy and not the guy everyone in the organization has to call “Mr. Snyder.”
A simple case for the NFL's Washington Redskins to change their racist name

By Robert Harding"If his team nickname really isn't an offensive, racist term. If as he claims, it's a point of pride among Native American tribes, how come not once in this letter does Dan Snyder actually refer to actual Native Americans as 'redskins?'"

That's a great question for defenders of the Washington team name. If it's not an offensive term, why isn't it widely used today? Why do we say and write "Indian" or "Native American" when we could use "redskin?" If it's not derogatory, as Snyder and backers suggest, why not use it?
Snyder adds insult to injury with new Indian foundation

By John SmallwoodThe name of this foundation is the equivalent of Snyder naming a group the "Washington Darkies African Americans Foundation" or "Washington Yellow Men Asian Americans Foundation" or "Washington Crackers Caucasian Americans Foundation."

I have to believe Snyder was aware enough to know the outrage that giving his foundation such a same would create. He could have named it the "Daniel Snyder Original Americans Foundation."
And:He goes on to restate the argument that the team name, in terms of the NFL, is a representation of honor, pride and spirit. Snyder supports his argument by using a quote from Torres-Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians chairwoman Mary L. Resvaloso: "There are Native Americans everywhere that 100% support the name."

And? So what?

It's never hard to find others to agree with your view, no matter what it may be.

There are African-Americans everywhere who 100 percent support using the "N-word" as a term of endearment among one another. That does not change the fact that, at its core, the "N-word" is still a disgusting racial slur.
About That Open Letter Dan Snyder Just Sent to ‘Redskins Nation’

By Dave ZirinI wrote then—and believe even more firmly now—that our team name captures the best of who we are and who we can be, by staying true to our history and honoring the deep and enduring values our name represents.

To be “true” to your “history,” you would need to make your coach wear feathers in his hair, lie about him being Native American and then trade away all of your black players. The “values” the name represents can be summed up in a story I heard from a young woman named Mary from the Omaha Nation who spoke about how it would be shouted when bullies would hurt her at school. Her narrative and the narratives of others actually damaged by this name never enter Snyder's consciousness.

In that letter, I committed myself to listening and learning from all voices with a perspective about our Washington Redskins name.

This is a lie. Daniel Snyder has actually refused to meet with the Oneida Nation, the Choctaw Nation, the Red Cloud Nation, the Seminole Nation and every tribal council that has voted to call upon Snyder to change the name.
Dan Snyder's "Original Americans" Foundation, or, WTF Dan Snyder?

By Debbie ReeseSo what did billionaire Dan Snyder do about all the poverty he saw? He helped buy a backhoe.

WTF, Dan Snyder?

With his millions, he could have bought the whole thing, right? What else did he do? He distributed over 3000 "cold weather coats" to several Plains tribes. I wonder if those jackets have his team's name on them?

Snyder says that he "took a survey of tribes across 100 reservations" so that he could have "an accurate assessment of the most pressing needs in each community" and came up with over forty projects his foundation is going to work on. In his letter, he quotes several Native people. None of them, however, endorse the name. Some say they're grateful for his help.

Why would they need his help in the first place?

Maybe because Congress hasn't acted on its treaty obligations. Snyder could do more for all sovereign nations if he'd put pressure on Congress to fulfill treaty obligations. He is a billionaire, after all. He could do a lot more, couldn't he?

Instead, he has chosen a shameful path. Visiting Native people, "quietly and respectfully" and then shamelessly using them for his own ends. Disgusting.
Dan Snyder Acknowledges Existence of People He Prefers to Slur

By Marc TracyIn the October letter, the feelings of Native Americans are literally an afterthought. To wit: “We cannot ignore our 81 year history, or the strong feelings of most of our fans as well as Native Americans throughout the country.” In that letter, actually existing Native Americans might as well not actually exist.

However, Monday’s letter is entirely about real Native Americans (excuse me, Original Americans). We hear from them. We learn about them. We are no longer celebrating the “values and heritage” of the team. Rather, we are celebrating Native Americans themselves.

Why the change of heart? It could be pure gamesmanship. After all, since Snyder’s last letter was published, the Washington football team went 2-10. More likely, Snyder and his advisors decided that the best strategy is to change the conversation.

However much Snyder is paying for his advice, though, it’s too much. This change of the conversation has come at irreparable cost to Snyder’s cause of keeping the team’s name. Native Americans are no longer abstractions. Snyder has acknowledged their existence—has, in fact, flung their continued existence in our faces. How can he possibly keep the name now? After all, the corollary to the fact that Native Americans need our help isn’t that they should no longer be demeaned by this name. The corollary to the fact that Native Americans need our help is that they also should no longer be demeaned by this name.
Comment:  A few tweets on the subject:

BlueCornComics ‏@bluecorncomics Mar 24
@NativeApprops @jfkeeler I'm surprised he didn't call it the Redskins Helping Redskins Foundation. Since the name is so honorable and all.

ICTMN Arts ‏@ICTMN_Arts Mar 24
I think @bluecorncomics nailed it: If the name is OK, they why not call this foundation "@Redskins Helping Redskins"? (And goodnight.)

BlueCornComics ‏@bluecorncomics Mar 27
How funny would it be if a federal agency rejected the name "Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation" because it's a racial slur?

BlueCornComics ‏@bluecorncomics Apr 1
First Indian who received beads from Columbus before being shipped back to Spain in chains: "He's honoring us!" #Redskins #NotYourMascot

Miss NC's Pocahontas photo shoot

Miss NC's Pocahontas Photo Shoot: No Big Deal, or Teachable Moment?

By Vincent SchillingNearly two weeks ago, Johna Edmonds, Miss North Carolina 2013, posted several photos of herself portraying a glamorized version of Pocahontas. Though she received some appreciative comments on social media, Edmonds also received a considerable amount of backlash from Native communities. Edmonds herself is Lumbee.

"I do not like it when there are sexual overtones to many of the cartoon figures portraying our Native Women," reads one representative comment, from Facebook user Carolyn Martell. "A grave message is sent to the world at large and our children. Our Native Women are to be view, revered with honor, dignity respect and integrity! Not Sex Objects!

"Other commenters were more blunt. "Pocahontas, Disney style? Gross!" was Fran Gillespie's reaction, posted to the Facebook page. "Some jacked up miniskirt & stiletto high heels? On a practical level, she would have froze her ass off & sprained an ankle. Here is this really important historical figure, being made cheap & sleazy!"

On March 18th, Edmonds responded to the slew of comments on her own Facebook page with a statement that later appeared in a post at Her statement reads, in part:

For the purpose of helping an incredible artistic team who have been unbelievably generous to the Miss North Carolina Scholarship Program, capture the essence of their creative vision for this year’s Disney Princess-themed Miss NC program book ad-page, I portrayed my childhood favorite Disney Princess, “Pocahontas.” And what should have remained a proud moment for me as well as others excited to see the outcome of this photo shoot, quickly devolved.

Within a matter of minutes, I had been unfairly accused of “misappropriating Native American culture” and of perpetuating society’s “hyper-sexualization of Native American women.” … So to those who feel that I have distastefully used my sexuality or femininity–which are mine to use–I do sincerely apologize. However, I’d like to also suggest that if all you see is a “hyper-sexualized” Native American woman when looking at these beautifully captured photographs, I would suggest that problem isn’t me, as I never aimed to convey “hyper-sexiness” at any point during this photo shoot. Instead, I really wanted to epitomize and portray the beauty and regal nature of the “Pocahontas” I fondly remember, and with whom I spent the entirety of my childhood captivated by.
The outcome:"We had a board meeting last night and a conference call in which we unanimously agreed to remove the pictures and we discussed information that Lori had shared with us. We had a board meeting today with Johna and I had printed out a lot of that information and took the opportunity to make ourselves more aware regarding the sexualization of the Native American woman and how those images were offensive to so many."Comment:  Several things are wrong with the pageant's and Edmonds' thinking.

For starters, the bone breastplate and choker come from the Plains culture. They're completely wrong for Disney's Pocahontas, the real Pocahontas, or any Native cultures of the eastern seaboard.

Edmonds may claim her poses weren't "hyper-sexual," but the first one, at least, is sexual. Disney's Pocahontas didn't drape herself over a rock like that, preparing herself for ravishing. Whoever arranged this photo turned an "innocent" cartoon character into a sexual object.

Of course, the whole concept of Disney princesses is flawed--especially in regard to Pocahontas. The real Pocahontas wasn't a princess. She wasn't a woman known for her "beauty and regal nature." She was a pre-pubescent girl.

Even Disney's version of Pocahontas wasn't a princess. So any adult women, including Native women, who portray Pocahontas are furthering Native stereotypes. The princess, the temptress, the sex object, the fetching maiden...none of these personas apply to Pocahontas the 12-year-old girl. They're all false and stereotypical and everyone should avoid them.

For more on Pocahontas, see Top Three Native Stereotypes and Pocahontas Poster Shows Movies' Influence.

Goodell defends Redskins foundation

Roger Goodell Praises Dan Snyder's Publicity Stunt, Of Course

By Matt CohenFollowing Snyder's self-congratulating letter talking about all the things he's learned about Native Americans in the past several months, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell praised him today at a meeting Snyder organized for league officials and team owners, the Post reports.

“We have been listening, but so has Dan. That was the point of the presentation, that he has been listening,” Goodell said at a press conference following the meeting. “[Snyder] has visited 26 [reservations] and he has been working very closely with them, listening and learning. And there are some important needs that he has identified by having these meetings. But that was a presentation completely by the Redskins. It was their issue, and the membership appreciated hearing it.”
Goodell commends Snyder, says 90 percent of Redskins fans like name

By Ryan Wilson“This is something to your point that has been discussed for decades now. It comes up every once in a while, but people have strong views of it,” the commissioner said. “I think Dan is being very responsible in listening. It's also very clear when you look at public opinion, when you look at the polls that 90 percent of Redskins fans support the name. They believe it's something that represents pride. And the general population also supports it overwhelmingly. He's trying to be responsible in listening and recognizing that people have differing views.”

Last September, ostensibly when Goodell was still in the fact-gathering phase, he told a Washington radio station that, "If one person's offended, we have to listen" before conceding that, "ultimately, it is Dan's decision."
Roger Goodell Stands by Washington Redskins Keeping Controversial Name

March 25, 2014

Indian country scorns Redskins foundation

The outrage over the announcement of Dan Snyder's Redskins foundation was swift and scathing:

Outrage in Indian Country as Redskins Owner Announces FoundationThe letter is rife with self-satisfaction and misdirection, repeatedly emphasizing all the wonderful ways the Redskins, through the Foundation, might help Indian country, with no mention of the elephant in the room: The widespread objection in Indian country to the team's name. For instance, here's another interesting tap dance, bolded and italicized as in the original:

"Our efforts will address the urgent challenges plaguing Indian country based on what Tribal leaders tell us they need most. We may have created this new organization, but the direction of the Foundation is truly theirs."

Such willingness to let Indians say what is most beneficial for Indians does not, obviously, extend to his football team's name.
and:Backlash on Twitter from Natives, many of whom have been united by the #NotYourMascot hashtag, has been forceful.

Frank Waln ‏@FrankWaln
Dan Snyder is scum of the earth

Lauren Chief Elk ‏@ChiefElk
Countdown until "Dan Snyder is trying to help you and you guys aren't even grateful!"

Johnnie Jae ‏@johnniejae
Apparently visiting 26 of 300+ reservations & bribing 400 tribal leaders means we should bow to our new savior Dan Snyder #notyourmascot
Twitter Users Declare The Washington Redskins’ Latest PR Stunt A Disaster

Team owner Daniel Snyder wrote that he believes “even more firmly now” in the team’s name. The backlash against the NFL franchise continues.

By Dan Oshinsky
These tweets seemed to sum up the public consensus about the letter—and Snyder himself.

Roopika Risam @roopikarisam
Every time I get an email with the subject line "A Letter from Dan Snyder" I should just start making popcorn.

Jon Solomon @jonsol
It's 2014 and Redskins owner Dan Snyder has just learned that many Native Americans live very difficult lives.

Bobby Big Wheel @BobbyBigWheel
Dan Snyder wants to know how much money it'll take for you to let him be racist

Adrienne K. @NativeApprops
Dan Snyder is exploiting our pain and our poverty. Buying our silence. That's beyond effed up. #NotYourMascot

Dave Zirin @EdgeofSports
In his year of "listening" to Native Americans somehow Dan Snyder's Merry band missed every last tribal council that's called for change.

NCAI: True Support Of Indian Country Only Possible If DC Team Changes NameThe National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) is encouraged to see that after decades of insisting their team name supposedly honors Indian Country, the Washington, DC football team’s owner is dedicating time and resources to the challenges facing tribal nations.

However, this Foundation will only contribute to the problems in Indian Country if it does not also address the very real issue of how Native people are consistently stereotyped, caricaturized, and denigrated by mascot imagery and the use of the R-word slur. For Mr. Snyder and the Foundation to truly support and partner with Indian Country, they must first change the name of the DC team and prove that the creation of this organization isn’t just a publicity stunt.
Two more Native opinions:

Latest nickname outreach is a step, but without a direction

By Mike Wise“It’s the old colonial playbook, divide and conquer,” she says by telephone from her home in Claremore, Okla. “He’s basically turning Native Americans against each other on this issue. He’s saying, ‘We’ll trade you coats and a backhoe for your silence on the name.’ It makes me sad. It makes me angry.”And:“I actually used to work in Indian education outreach at San Diego State and UCSD,” she said from her office in San Diego. “We all are trying to solve deeper issues in our communities. But this is nothing but a P.R. ploy. I’d really like to know, in dollar-for-dollar amounts, whether the money he’s donating is going to make it any easier for us to send our kids to school and not be called Redskin.

“By refusing to even acknowledge the people hurt by the name, he’s canceling out his own efforts. It feels so artificial to me.”
Dan Snyder and his OAF: A Trick Play That Is Fooling No OneSnyder could have expected some people would be skeptical of or offended by his attempt to pacify some Natives with money to justify holding on to his team's racist slur of a nickname. But did he expect that anyone would believe he is doing the right thing, for the right reasons? If so, he miscalculated.

Judging by commentary in the mainstream media and sportswriting blogosphere, nobody was fooled. The formation of the Original Americans Fund (OAF, as it's being called) is a flea-flicker that didn't flick. A fumblerooski that turned out to be just a fumble. A Statue of Liberty that is waist-deep in sand.

Twitter campaign against Redskins foundation

As soon as I heard about Dan Snyder's Redskins foundation, I tweeted:

BlueCornComics ‏@bluecorncomics Mar 24
@NativeApprops @jfkeeler Time for a new Twitter campaign? E.g., #NotYourCharity? So we can mock Snyder and his pretense of helping Natives?

Other activists were already on the case:

Native Americans tell Redskins owner: I'm #Not4Sale

By The Stream TeamNative Americans are using social media to tell the Washington Redskins football team owner that their support can't be bought.

After Dan Snyder announced plans on Monday to launch a foundation that he says will help Native Americans, activists began using the hashtag #Not4Sale to voice their opposition.

Snyder's announcement to create the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation comes after mounting criticism and pressure calling for the team to change its name.

Native Americans posted photos of themselves online with their mouths covered by money, with some stating, "No matter how much money you throw at us, we will never be your mascot."

March 24, 2014

Snyder announces Redskins foundation

The story of the week was Dan Snyder's announcement that he's forming a Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation. The word came in a letter posted on

The news quickly took off in the media:

Native Americans Blast Redskins Gambit To Defuse Name Controversy With Financial Contributions

By Travis WaldronEmbroiled in a controversy surrounding his team’s name, Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder announced in a letter on his team’s web site that announced the Redskins planned to set up a foundation to help Native Americans address a list of other issues that affect the community, a move that was immediately criticized by Native American activists opposed to the name.

Snyder’s letter announced the creation of the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation, the result of a “listening tour” he conducted this fall by visiting 100 Native American tribes.

“The mission of the Original Americans Foundation is to provide meaningful and measurable resources that provide genuine opportunities for Tribal communities. With open arms and determined minds, we will work as partners to begin to tackle the troubling realities facing so many tribes across our country. Our efforts will address the urgent challenges plaguing Indian country based on what Tribal leaders tell us they need most. We may have created this new organization, but the direction of the Foundation is truly theirs,” Snyder wrote in the letter.

The foundation, Snyder said, would seek to help Native Americans address high rates of poverty and other issues facing their communities. According to Snyder, thus far, the foundation has donated jackets, some basketball shoes and a backhoe to various tribes.

“For too long, the struggles of Native Americans have been ignored, unnoticed and unresolved,” Snyder wrote. “As a team, we have honored them through our words and on the field, but now we will honor them through our actions.”
Suzan Shown Harjo was one of the first to criticize this move:Suzan Shown Harjo, an activist who has fought the name and others like it for decades, told ThinkProgress that she regarded the foundation as a public relations stunt that showed Snyder’s “arrogance” when dealing with Native American issues.

“We’ll see how long that goes and what issues they address and how,” Harjo said. “Many, many people and groups have parachuted into Indian country and thought they had the ideal solution because they had spent a hot minute with some of our people.”

That Snyder needed a listening tour to discover the plight of Native Americans may be revealing in and of itself. “Does he think he’s the only person to figure this out?” Harjo asked. “Native America is impoverished? He just now figured that out? We know what the pressing issues are. We’re the ones who’ve been dealing with them all our lives. What an insult. The whole thing. This is a stunt. To me, it’s a stunt. But we’ll see. Supposedly it’s a change of heart, but it’s not a change of mind. And it’s not a change of name.”

Harjo noted that Snyder isn’t listening as closely as he says he is, because groups like Oneida and the National Congress of American Indians and politicians who work on Native American issues insist that names like “Redskins” make addressing the larger issues facing the communities even harder. NCAI often touts research showing that names like “Redskins” have adverse psychological and sociological effects on Native communities and their youth in particular, and the organization produced an ad around the Super Bowl to highlight diversity among Native Americans that is diminished by blanket monikers like the team’s name.

“Is he really going to put up $50 million of his own money for a suicide prevention program?” Harjo said, pointing back to the research highlighting the indirect effects of Native American imagery. “Does he understand that part of teenage suicides, which are the worst in the country, part of that comes from low self-esteem and part of that comes from negative imaging, of which his franchise is one of the worst offenders? So he can cry about high rates of suicides but he doesn’t begin to understand how he’s contributing to that and that this is a real matter of life and death.”
Redskins owner Dan Snyder ridiculed by Indian leader for promise of aid to Native Americans

By The Associated PressWashington Redskins owner Dan Snyder's attempt to assist Native Americans is "somewhere between a PR assault and bribery," an American Indian activist said Monday night.

Suzan Shown Harjo told The Associated Press that Snyder is showing the "same arrogance" that he's shown previously when defending a team nickname that many consider offensive.
The Oneida Indian Nation also was quick to respond:

Oneida Indian Nation Statement Regarding Foundation Announcement by Washington NFL Team Owner Dan SnyderOneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter said in response to the announcement:

“We’re glad that after a decade of owning the Washington team, Mr. Snyder is finally interested in Native American heritage, and we are hopeful that when his team finally stands on the right side of history and changes its name, he will honor the commitments to Native Americans that he is making.

"We are also hopeful that in his new initiative to honor Native Americans’ struggle, Mr. Snyder makes sure people do not forget that he and his predecessor George Preston Marshall, a famous segregationist, have made our people’s lives so much more difficult by using a racial slur as the Washington team’s name.”

Glispa stereotypes Native women

Tipi, Models in Skimpy Faux Native Garb at California Gaming Conference

By Simon Moya-SmithAn American-born businessman who owns and operates an advertising company in Germany has responded to complaints of cultural appropriation by stating he has Native American friends and that his company incorporates Native American values in its philosophy.

Gary Lin, CEO of Glispa (GmbH), a company geared to generate web traffic through marketing campaigns, allegedly erected a tipi and hired several women to dress in faux Native American garb at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, on March 19.

Elizabeth LaPensée, an Anishinaabe and Métis game developer and designer, said friends had told her a tipi would be on the expo floor. When she arrived to the conference she noticed that Glispa staff were using the tipi as a meeting room. “And two women, both of whom were non-Native, were wearing your typical inappropriate stereotypical [Indian] costume--mocking regalia,” she said.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see "Sacagawea" at MacDonald Day Celebration and Gypsy Parlor Stereotypes Native Women.

Below:  "Women dressed in faux Native American attire at the gaming developers conference in San Francisco stand outside a tipi as part of their marketing campaign."

March 23, 2014

Cher in a headdress, again

Cher Turns Back Time on opening night of Dressed to Kill tour in Phoenix

By Jess WilsonThe 67-year-old singer proved she's still got it when she bounded onto the stage in a replica leotard from her 1989 Heart of Stone tour.

Several wardrobe changes included a gold gladiator-style frock with a long blonde wig, and a full Native American-style get-up.

Activist Gray Wolf posted this photo along with his comments:WELL HERE WE GO AGAIN! seems like this should have been stopped a long time ago but here she is "honoring" Native people with her insulting and disrespectful "Native" inspired outfit! ... I already see the defense of Cher by those who "love" her...even to the point of saying this is no big deal because she did it before and no one said anything about it so I guess that makes it okay now? people seem to forget that Native people have NOT had a voice for quite some time and now that we have found it, WE PLAN TO USE IT!Others chimed in:Cher is an American singer. She was born Cherilyn Sarkisian. Her father, John Paul Sarkisian, was born in California, to Armenian parents; he worked as a truck driver. Her mother, Jackie Jean Crouch, was of English and German, with more distant Irish, Dutch, and French, descent. Cher is also stated to have Cherokee Native American ancestry on her mother’s side, but no Cherokee Native American ancestors are documented on any publicly available genealogies of Cher.

If she were "part" Native which I sincerely doubt, then she should KNOW better than to disrespect Native culture with such an insulting outfit! The defense of such behavior usually comes from those that do not have a clue as to what Native culture and tradition is really all about!

I don't understand the comments saying this is honoring anyone. When the cultures and traditions in question are being grossly distorted and sexualized, isn't that pretty much the same thing as saying wearing blackface is a compliment?

Tsalagi (Cherokee) do not wear headdress....So this would still be appropriation of culture as her culture has no headdress or war bonnet....Come on folks....LOL
Cher on NativeCelebs

I posted the photo on the NativeCelebs page and got more comments, some of which I answered:That is why they lost, because they could not run fast enough in outfits like this.. And because they picked the wrong side. Don't forget they did pick a side in the beginning seems this is ALWAYS over looked.I hope you're kidding, Courtney. No Indian wore an outfit like this one, especially not in battle.

Y'all understand that Cherokee is a completely different culture from Lakota and other Plains Indians, right? The argument that she's Cherokee so she can wear a Plains headdress is ridiculous. It's like saying she's Greek so she can wear a kilt or she's Scottish so she can wear a toga.

The fact that people think there's only one "Native culture" and they all wear headdresses is the problem, not the solution. If this is your argument, you're part of the problem too. Quit arguing that all Indians are the same and learn the differences!So much hate in this world quit bitching and do something to inform people.We're doing that. We're informing anyone who doesn't know it that Plains costumes like this are stereotypical. That there are hundreds of tribes and most of them didn't and don't wear headdresses. That anyone who thinks there's one "Native culture" and Cher is part of it is ignorant and needs to learn the facts.Come on, Cher loves all Indian People, she has done so much for Natives all around this country!Such as what? Examples? As far as I know, she's never lifted a finger to do anything with her alleged Cherokee heritage.NATIVECELEBS: Perhaps focus on educating the general (non Native) public about Native cultures and traditions in a good way without name calling and hatred. Educate them about what you have learned from your elders.We didn't call Cher names. Your mistake if you think otherwise.

And there's no "hatred" involved in criticism. It's like saying 2+2 = 4, not 5. Correcting math problems isn't hateful and neither is correcting false or misleading stereotypes.

That's something you've never understood, which is too bad. Pointing out mistakes so people do better next time is positive. It's a matter of explaining and educating, which most people understand are necessary steps for change.

And since 99% of our postings are positive even by your definition, we aren't about to apologize for the 1% that you consider "negative." We've posted 10-15 supportive items every day for several years straight, a record no one else can match. Until someone else does even better, we don't need anyone telling us how to be positive.

P.S. Anyone who's saying Cher is half Native is sadly mistaken. 1/16th or less would be closer to the mark. Which means she's like every other Indian wannabe: not Native.

For more on the subject, see Cher in a Headdress.