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Monday, October 13, 2014

The R-Word Interview for My Niece by CFT

1.) What kind of first hand racism have you experienced if any?
As a child in K-12 - being called the N-word and "Injun Joe", not being taught the history and accomplishments of First Nations People, being forced to honor Columbus, to "celebrate" Thanksgiving, and never seeing the word "Arawak" in print.

As a person of color - being asked to pay for things in cash when others used checks, not being served at a deli counter, being forced to wait at the door to be seated in a Friendly's Restaurant while the staff took their "break."

As a person in a multiracial relationship - being called "salt and pepper" and being told to find someone of my own kind.

As a person in a multiracial family - being asked if I was adopted, being asked if my children were adopted, having my children taken by strangers who believed they had been abandoned (even though I was standing right behind them).

As a teacher - The posters on my door were vandalized with "KKK was here" and "White Power" being written on them.

2.) Have you ever struggled to find work because of being Native American?
No, because, I believe, my middle/working class background has mediated this.  I had a job at a store when I was 16 and have been working in the same school since I was 22.

3.) What is your opinion on the name "Redskins" for a foot all team?
It's as bad as the N-word. It is based on killing NA's and showing the bloody scalp.  See below…

4.) What do you want people to know about Native Americans?
Too much to say.  To start with:
- We are still here.  We are not all "dead."
- We are a contemporary people.  We have evolved just like everyone else.  Senators don't wear white powdered wigs anymore and women can own land.
- 95% of all major news coverage shows us only in the past, so most people (even NA's) don't have positive, living, contemporary role-models and images.

Redskins and tomahawk Chop are racist names and actions that wouldn't use for another group!  see: Caricatures of our people are grotesque.  The big issues with sports images and accompanying chants and movements are the perpetuation of stereotypes in the absence of a range of positive, contemporary First Nations images.  And then, how those stereotypes perpetuated by others.  Those who perpetuate inappropriate, inaccurate, and misinformation have the "power" to define us, instead of our own images and stories defining ourselves.  This affects other peoples understanding of us and our own identity development.  As women, we don't like to be called, "wench" anymore and we would hope other inappropriate phrases (or as some like to say, "phrases of that time period") would fall out of use, too. Images need to also change or disappear. The Black " Mammy" on maple syrup has evolved over the decades, though I am not really sure why that exists in the first place since maple syrup is Native in origin.  We are not where we were as a society AND, as Native People, we are finally at a point where we an protest and be heard - look at how long it took women to be heard and to get the right to vote!

In addition, statistics are often cited that mention Native American's "don't care" or "are fine" with the sports images, but that is not the whole story.  Here is an article that explains this:
“I don’t really worry about it,” said Elaine YellowHorse, a college student and EMT on the reservation, told me. “There are just so many other things that I need to worry about before that.”  But YellowHorse gives the lie to the idea that 58% of the survey respondents actively condone the name. While she said she wouldn’t bother to change it, YellowHorse also told me that she found “Redskins” offensive and was upset by the idea that there were non-Native fans running around in headdresses in the nation’s capital. It’s a difficult sentiment to understand — to find something offensive but not worth worrying about — but when the whole world around you is tinged with racism, you have a high bar for what you deem worthy of worrying about.

And here:
“Native Americans throughout the country consider the term ‘redskin’ a racial, derogatory slur akin to the ‘N-word' among African Americans or the ‘W-word' among Latinos,” Cole and nine other lawmakers wrote in a letter earlier this year to team owner Daniel Snyder. “Such offensive epithets would no doubt draw widespread disapproval among the NFL's fan base. Yet the national coverage of Washington's NFL football team profits from a term that is equally disparaging to Native Americans.”