First off, i've been staying out of the many of the posts on this thing, because i'm not on twitter, but also because they clearly weren't written with Native American's in mind or even attempted to get our perspective on the matter.
However Indian Country Today ran two excellent editorials from the perspective that got lost in the twitter outrage. I am still sorting out my thoughts over this whole kerfuffle, so I don't really want to get into a debate, but I do want to share these essays and some key points from both. As i've stated before, my husband is Asian American and I am eligible to join my grandmother's tribe. So i have feet in both worlds, which makes this even more tricky for me.
Here's the first titled "I'm Not Your Disappearing Indian"
The second titled " Snyder Wins: How Cancel Colbert drowned out the Native Voice"
Here are some quotes from the essays:
No, it wasn't Stephen Colbert who forgot about us, nor was is "Stephen Colbert," a character played by comedian Stephen Colbert, to satirize the extreme insensitivity of Republican conservatism. His show,The Colbert Reportdid a whole skit skewering Dan Snyder, billionaire owner of the Washington Redsk*ns, and Snyder's new Original Americans Foundation (OAF), exposing it — through satire — as a blatant attempt to use charity to provide cover for his NFL team's racist name. It was the hashtaggers, PoC (People of Color) and progressives, our own allies on Twitter who trended the hashtag#CancelColberti n response to the fictional foundation's name featured in the skit. And yet, Dan Snyder's real foundation promoting an ethnic slur against us, a foundation thatactually exists, failed to garner even a tiny fraction of outrage by the same group. In fact, in her Time Magazine article that followed the enormous success of#CancelColbert, hashtag originator Suey Park failed to mention Snyder's foundation at all. She certainly did not mention the Native hashtag protesting it#Not4Sale, despite it being covered byMike Wise at the Washington Post andAl Jazeera America's The Stream just days before. Only one reporter,Jeff Yang of the Wall Street Journal included any mention of Native responses to it.
What's most frustrating to me is that a deleted tweet garnered more outrage than the actual existence of a foundation to promote a slur against Native Americans. A foundation announced just days after the U.S. Patent Office, reasoning that the word is a racist epithet, refused to grant a trademark to "Washington Redsk*ns Potatoes"! Apotatohas more rights than Native people do! (And yes, there is a Native hashtag for it —#NotYourPotato— and no, our allies on Twitter have not trended it.)
"Native Mascotry" is a term I coined to describe the practices that surround a Native mascot. It's not just about the static image of the mascot, be it somewhat noble and prosaic or an ugly caricature with a feather on top. It's the creative license such mascots gives fans to reenact outdated stereotypes, to "play Indian." These practices include: the wearing of Redface, the misuse of Native regalia and the chanting of fake, hokey war chants and tomahawk chops. This year at the Rose Bowl, a group of Florida State University students each held up a letter to spell "Scalp Em," yetthisdid not inspire our Twitter allies into#CancelColbertlevels of action. (And yes, there was a Native hashtag for it,#RedfaceDisgrace.)
Studies done byDr. Stephanie Fryberg and resolutions by the American Psychology Association make clear that the negative effects on Native people of mascots and stereotypes are measurable and real. Fryberg found that even Native people who claimed to be okay with Native mascots experienced measurable lower self-esteem and spoke less positively about their future goals in their lives after being exposed to Native mascots. Meanwhile, those that appropriate our image experience the exact opposite effect.
And now from Snyder Wins-
And that's the bottom line for the Native activists on Twitter who saw a real opportunity to open some eyes when Snyder announced his bizarrely named charity: The momentum building for their campaign —#Not4Sale— was stymied by#CancelColbert. In an interview with The New Yorker that only briefly mentioned Dan Snyder and his foundation, Suey Park admitted she likes Colbert Report and didn't actually want to see it canceled. Yet a single Tweet connected to a satirist — whose well-known shtick is to parody arrogant conservatives — made more waves than a campaign against a racist team name that has been with us for decades.
As Jackie Keeler of Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry tweeted from her@jfkeeler feed: "Issue is not critique of skit but disproportional outrage vis a vis Actual racist foundation —Snyder wins."