Only got ten minutes to save the world...

Between the new baby and the Ph.D., this grad student only has ten minutes a day to philosophize culture. Bear with me as I tell you how to think...

all within a ten-minute writing limit.



Racist Mascot Analogies

True or False: Sports mascots such as the Braves or the Redskins honor Native Americans by highlighting their bravery.

True or False: Okay, these mascots might be a little racist, but it's not that sinister type of racism because there's no meanness or ill-intent behind the mascots. Hey, these teams just want something catchy to represent their strength! And the teams obviously respect Native Americans--just look at how brave they portray them!

True or False: After boldly and cruelly assaulting, imperializing, killing, and at best swindling people(s), it can be good fun to manipulate their image and their imagined personal qualities for the enjoyment of a class of consumers that consists of the offspring of those ancestral imperialists. We own you, you damned romantic Indians! Let us delight in your feathers and tomahawks!

Each of the above T-or-F's share a common answer--and it ain't "true".

Tonight I stumbled upon a Facebook argument. The argument, like so many Facebook arguments, exemplified the pathetically unbalanced discussions of people thrown together in a virtual world through such trivial connections as common high school or home town. A friend of mine had made a remark about how she despises teams that dishonor First Nations peoples by cavalierly employing racist mascots. This comment incited a minor shit storm that resulted in one particular Facebooker repeatedly posting various reasons why my offended friend had no right to be offended. Among these reasons: 1) The teams don't mean any harm; and 2)Most Native Americans don't find these mascots offensive and neither do I.

I didn't join the FB conversation because I was breastfeeding my baby at the time and was thus one-hand Facebooking. And it's probably better I didn't join the conversation because if I did I'd still be involved, hours later, in a volley of stupidity versus genius (I'm the genius, FYI).

But if I did respond, I'd say:

1) Intent means nothing when it comes to racism. Most racism is not-intentional. When white women loved their darling Mammies, they thought they were doing a good thing. They weren't.

2) How the fuck do you know what most Native Americans feel? Unless you're a Native American, it doesn't matter if you don't find it offensive. And even if some Native Americans don't find the Braves offensive, the use of these mascots still contributes to the casual continuation of unintentional racism in which it's okay to own, manipulate, and caricature the image of people you have attempted to destroy. It isn't.

Remember the SATs? Remember analogies? Here's an analogy for you:

"The Braves" are to America what "The Jews" are to Germany.

How's does the Resilient Jew sound for a German sports team mascot?

That's what I thought.   

<minute ten.>


Post a Comment


Powered by Blogger.