January 25, 2016

Whitesboro issue increases awareness

After widespread criticism, the town of Whitesboro has agreed to change its seal. That's good, but the larger story is what Native activists are accomplishing:

Whitesboro drops 'racist' seal: Sign of the times for Native Americans?

A decades-long debate over the Whitesboro, N.Y., seal has led to 'victory' for Native Americans who said it was offensive to their heritage. Are America's first people gaining more recognition?

By Lucy Schouten
African Americans have arguably made more progress than indigenous people in scrubbing the American landscape of hateful or racist symbols and celebrating their heritage. For example, Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Black History Month in February are longstanding holidays that have honored black Americans for years, yet native Americans are only recently finding similar holiday recognition. The latest effort is to change the existing Columbus Day holiday to Indigenous Peoples Day, reported The Christian Science Monitor's Molly Jackson:South Dakota and Berkeley, Calif., were among the first to pay attention, choosing to use the second Monday in October to honor the New World’s first inhabitants instead of its 15th century newcomers. ... Further protests seemed to fall on deaf ears, until a sudden wave of Columbus cancellations in the past two years: 10 more cities have joined the list, from Albuquerque to Seattle to St. Paul. This new wave may represent a broader shift in how Americans view Native American rights, or at least the growing local political influence of indigenous groups.Comment:  Exactly. It's all about increasing awareness. Which leads to improvements in all areas: poverty, crime, health, etc.

Here's one response to people, including Natives, who say we have more important issues to worry about:

With a simple social media protest, we got a torrent of national exposure in the media: NY Times, Washington Post, The Daily Show, Stephen Colbert, etc. What have you done lately that compares to that?

When you raise a poverty, crime, or health issue that gets dozens of pieces of coverage, let us know. Until then, we are at the forefront of raising awareness of Native issues.

Which is not to say we should stop talking about poverty, crime, or health issues. But it's ridiculous to claim that something earning a ton of media coverage is a waste of time. You don't understand how to mobilize people and instigate change if you think one poverty piece is better than dozens of mascot pieces.

#OccupyWallStreet, #IdleNoMore, #BlackLivesMatter, #OscarsSoWhite, and #ChangetheName!

For more on the subject, see Flipping the Whitesboro Script and Comedians Mock Whitesboro Seal.

No comments: