Category Archives: first nations/indigenous people

Silence and Spectacle: How the Sports Media Sanctions Racist Mascots

By Guest Contributors C. Richard King and David J. Leonard

Image by Keith Allison via Flickr Creative Commons.

One would hope sport media outlets might take their civic duty to foster critical thinking, public engagement, and informed debated seriously. Their approach to the representations in Native Americans in sport suggest otherwise. Under the veil of fairness and balance, they opt to speak for, to be silent and to silence as preferred pathways.

When ESPN columnist Rick Reilly offered a defense of Native American mascots because the American Indians he knew did not have a problem with them. Flouting his whiteness and playing his privilege with little regard, he spoke for Native Americas. His word – his whiteness, his platform – made their words meaningful. His editors neither batted an eye nor cleared a space for Native Americans to express themselves.

In fact, Reilly misrepresented his key source, his father-in-law, who wrote a lengthy retort in Indian Country Today that noted he found the name of Washington D.C.’s National Football League team to be objectionable. Reilly still stood by his piece and neither he nor his publisher have offered a correction or an apology.
Continue reading

I Saw The Lone Ranger So You Don’t Have To

By Guest Contributor Adrienne K.; originally published at Native Appropriations

 

LR

 

It’s been 12 hours since I saw The Lone Ranger, and I still have the darn William Tell Overture stuck in my head. I wonder how long that lasts. It’s like waking up with a Tonto hangover, I guess. I have so many thoughts on this film, and only maybe one of them is good. But I think we need to start off with this: The Lone Ranger is just a bad movie. It’s 2.5 hours of a film with an identity crisis, not knowing if it’s supposed to be funny, campy, dramatic, “authentic,” or what. At points, it was very hard to separate the stereotypical and hurtful from the bad script, bad editing, and bad character development of the movie itself.

So, if it even needs to be said: SPOILER ALERT–I’m about to give away everything. But you’re not going to see the movie anyway, so it shouldn’t really matter. But you know how the internet is. Here’s my review, in only six parts. I restrained myself.

Some quick overall thoughts: Like I mentioned above, this movie didn’t know what it was, and that was a problem. It was also so. incredibly. long. By the time we got to the final big train chase scene at the end, where the pair save the day (accompanied by the aforementioned William Tell) I wrote in my notes: “FINALLY! I AM SO BORED!” and then that scene drug on for another 15 minutes and I just wanted it to end. I forgot what we were even fighting for. Which I think was the problem all along.

This is also the most violent movie I’ve seen in awhile, and I’m a fan of Game of Thrones. Don’t take your kids, despite the Disney label and PG-13 rating. There is so much shooting and stabbing, and they show the aftermath.  Early on in the film the bad guy even cuts out and eats the Lone Ranger’s brother’s heart (yes, eats it). They have no qualms about shooting someone for the sake of shooting someone, and there are blood and guts and barn beams smashing people’s heads. It’s not something I would want to expose my kids to, at all.

And for those of you new to the blog or needing a refresher, here’s all my Tonto coverage over the last year or so, which covers the casting, the costume, and a whole bunch of other things: my initial reactionswhy you should care about Tonto when there are “bigger issues” out theretearing apart Depp’s reasoning over his costume choicesthe controversy I dealt with for writing about Tonto, andArmie Hammer’s comments about Indians loving the movie.

Part 1: The Opening Scene–Indians are so backward and funny, y’all!

The movie opens with a Buffalo Bill-style Wild West Show, set up like a museum of Natural History, and a little kid wanders in dressed like the Lone Ranger, eatin’ some peanuts, lookin’ at the buffalo, then, oh hey! “The Noble Savage in his natural habitat.” Guess who that is??

Spoiler! It’s Johnny Depp. In some scary-ass old person makeup. Like seriously crypt keeper style. Then OMG he moves! and reaches out! and says in a croaky old person voice, the first words of the whole film: “Kemooosabeeeh.” Then there’s this whole bit where Tonto asks the little boy to “traaaade” (sounding like zombies and “braaains”) and points to his peanuts, which Tonto exchanges for a dead mouse. Then he proceeds to eat the peanuts with the shells on, crunching through them to the boy’s disgust and wonderment, while feeding the crumbs to the bird on his head.

I won’t go this in-depth with the rest of the film, but I wanted to set the stage. The very first scene we are presented with an image of a Native person, in a museum–which presumably we’re supposed to critique, but there’s no questioning of Tonto’s position there. To me it reinforces the idea that all the Indians are dead, relics of the past, which is actually a theme throughout. This Indian is so silly and backward he trades a dead mouse for a bag of peanuts, doesn’t even know how to eat peanuts, and is feeding a bird, but it’s dead. Even the child knows that’s wrong. So this is the “new” Tonto? Definitely an improvement, amiright? (that was sarcasm. In case you missed it.)

Anyway, Tonto launches into the story of the Lone Ranger for the kid in the museum. So the whole movie is in flashback.

Tonto speak summary: Tonto in museum. Tonto old. Tonto silly and backward. You listen to story now.

Continue reading

Meanwhile On Tumblr: Taking The Piss Out Of White People Who Think They’re Not Racist

By Andrea Plaid

While Twitter is having a whole bunch of brilliant fun at the expense of Paula Deen and her racism (and rightfully so), Above Average Productions makes fun of those white folks who feel they should be congratulated for basic manners and human kindness toward people of color. (Though I’m not sure why the woman at the end of the vid is doing Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra…)

Continue reading

Of Scalps and Savages: How Colonial Language Enforces Discrimination against Indigenous Peoples

By Guest Contributor Ruth Hopkins, cross-posted from Last Real Indians

“The Death of Jane McCrea” by John Vanderlyn (1804)

Before I head out the door, I watch Morning Joe on MSNBC.  It’s part of my workday routine.  This morning they were talking about the latest issue of the New Republic and its lead story entitled, “How the NRA is Going Down: This is How the NRA Ends.”  Since the Newtown tragedy, Republican Joe Scarborough, the show’s host, is openly advocating for gun control. Still, Joe disagreed with the assertion that the NRA’s power and influence is eroding, especially in the wake of recently defeated gun control legislation.

In the midst of this exchange, John Heilemann, an author, journalist and political analyst who frequents Morning Joe (and who occasionally says things that make sense to me), said, “But who’s the SCALP?” John paraphrased this statement by saying, “who’s gonna pay the price for having voted the wrong way?” In other words, John was questioning whether any of the congressmen who voted against the recent legislation in question will be defeated next election specifically because they voted against gun control, i.e. who will be the “scalp” (defined in the dictionary as a “trophy of victory”) that gun control proponents win.

Mr. Heilemann made a perfectly rational argument. Unfortunately his archaic phraseology took me right out of the conversation. The moment he said, “Who’s the SCALP?” my mind immediately raced to the fact that my ancestors (the Dakota people) were hunted down and murdered in their Minnesota homelands in the late 1800s, when then-Governor Alexander Ramsey placed a $200 bounty on their scalps. Yes, you read that correctly. It was once government policy to encourage civilians to hunt down American Indian men, women and children (human beings), kill them, and rip the flesh from their skulls. Anyone who did so was rewarded handsomely for it.
Continue reading

The Racialicious Entertainment Roundup: Welcoming in June

Child’s Tonto costume, via. the Disney Store

By Kendra James

Halloween’s gonna be a doozy this year.

Instead of just selling the usual generic “Sexy Native Princess” or “Indian Brave” costumes, Disney  gets to go a step further! We have the upcoming film The Lone Ranger and Johnny Depp‘s portrayal of Tonto –complete with styrofoam crow– to thank for that. You can find this child-sized costume online for order here on The Disney Store website, along with several other pieces of questionable taste. The movie hasn’t even opened yet, and I can only imagine this is just rubbing salt in the wound for those who have openly addressed Disney with their concerns over the film.

While Tonto’s costume is available in full, you can only buy The Lone Ranger’s hat. I guess a blue shirt and a black mask weren’t exotic enough for the studio merchandisers, who are probably banking on sales to bolster a film whose production supposedly went way over their $250 million budget.

Unfortunately I don’t think merchandising is going to help Will and Jaden Smith’s After Earthwhich opened in a disappointing 3rd place this weekend with a domestic box office of $27 million. Personally, I don’t think the film didn’t look all that interesting or complicated. Professionals agreed, and the film led Adam Thompson of Shadow and Act to question Smith’s apparent aversion to controversial roles:

What’s surprising then is the lack of “risky” roles in Mister Smith’s nevertheless glorious resume. The nineteen films he’s starred in have grossed a total of almost six billion dollars, but only one of them – to my mind, at least – can be considered controversial. Six Degrees of Separation (photo above) based on a John Guare play – itself based on the antics of real-life con man David Hampton (with whom I share a birthday) – introduced Smith as a serious dramatic actor who could sink his teeth into a nuanced role. Stockard Channing got the Oscar nod but it was “Big Willie” who stole the show.

Despite the opportunity, Smith refused to kiss (in character) another man (fellow thespian Anthony Michael Hall).  Instead, the two actors were filmed at an angle that implied a kiss. Smith’s reasoning, later blasted by Sir Ian McKellen as “the disease” of homophobia, was that his kissing another man would “gross out” his fans. Smith wasn’t the first actor to “go gay” for a major film role (think Al Pacino in Cruising); in fact, playing a homosexual while being straight nowadays can actually up one’s acting cred  – you’re welcome, Jake Gyllenhaal. (It should also be noted that Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich, the duo behind Independence Day, specifically cited Six Degrees as the reason they picked Smith for the breakout role of Capt. Steven Hiller.)

I’m not saying Mister Smith or any other actor has to play it grimy for accolades, but it’s a shame that the star of Pursuit of Happyness hasn’t at least tried to take on more risky roles. Besides Six Degrees, the only other “controversial” movie I could even point to would be Ali, and even then only with regard to past issues of race in America and concerns about historical accuracy. All the great actors have played against type, showing the range that the truly talented chameleons are blessed with. If Smith counts himself among them, I implore him to consider going in a direction opposite that of a Hancock or Robert Neville or Agent J. In other words, don’t turn down another Django!

After Earth certainly wasn’t going to rock any boats (unless you count the rumblings that it proves the Smith family’s Scientologist leanings, mentioned in almost every major review), and this desire to blend in and stay bankable seems to have been a desire from the first ‘Big Willie Summer’. His Independence Day co-star Vivica A. Fox had this to say at the NYC premiere of After Earth: ‘“Will Smith told me years ago when we were doing Independence Day to become colorless to people. Yes we are African-American… that is who we are. But when people internationally can love you, trust you deliver a good film, trust you to save the world, it’s a good day.” 

If by ‘colorless’ he meant ‘one of the blandest Hollywood careers of our time,’ then Smith is golden. If not, well… international superstar status aside, the color of his skin hasn’t changed and judging from that appearance on The Graham Norton Show, plus the nonstop world promotional tour for After Earth  international love isn’t too much of a problem. It’s understandable that as a Black man in Hollywood, Smith treads and plays the game carefully, but it’d be nice to see him pop up in a small indie or Sundance film. Something unexpected– the proverbial Magnolia, if you will, before his next summer action blockbuster.

I’m not sure if Forrest Whitaker’s casting as Martin Luther King Jr. for a new Paul Greengrass flick is anymore of a risk, but I’d lay down good money that it’ll be a better movie. More interesting is  J. August Richards‘ suddenly being on the television come up again. He’s been cast as lawyers in a few cancelled shows since Angel ended it’s run, but this year he’s involved with S.H.I.E.L.D  as we discussed here beforeand now there’s a rumored involvement (thanks to a series of tweets between Richards and cast member Sarah Paulson) in the new season of American Horror Story. Between Richards, Angela Bassett, and Gabourey Sidibe consider my interest piqued.

'American Horror Story' Twitter Exchange

Tweets between Sarah Paulson and J August Richards via International Business Times.

And I’d be remiss to let you go without mentioning the News Of The Weekend brought to us first via. Bleeding Cool: Matt Smith won’t be joining Doctor Who for an eighth season and this year’s Christmas Special will be our last outing with Eleven. The crossed fingers for a Twelve who’s not a white male begin now. Arturo will have more for you on Wednesday, but for now my two favorite tweet suggestions on the matter:

 

Meanwhile, On TumblR: Red-Carpet Bossness, Accurate Maps, And Memorial Day’s Origins

By Andrea Plaid

Let’s start off this post with appreciating the bossness captured in this photo:

Michelle Thrush and Misty Upham

According to People Of Color With Killer Fashion:

Focus on the two ladies:  Michelle Thrush, from the  Cree Nation in  Canada in the black dress, and  Misty Upham from the Blackfeet Nation in the USA in a light dress. Misty says they are the first Native Americans to walk the Cannes red carpet. Also, the man right behind Misty is Puerto Rican actor Benicio del Toro.   They are doing so for their movie, Jimmy P. Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian.

Continue reading

Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Strong Families’ Mama’s Day Campaign 2013

By Andrea Plaid

With Mother’s Day coming up this weekend, we at the R celebrate the holiday with the best commingling of activism and e-cards from the one and only Strong Families crew! Check out their offerings:

Mamas Day Sylvia Rivera by Chucha Marquez

Artist: Chucha Marquez.

 

Artist: Robert Trujillo.

Artist: Robert Trujillo.

 

Artist: Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski

Artist: Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski

 

Artist: Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski.

Artist: Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski.

Along with the cards, Strong Families is also curating another incredible blog carnival on the meaning of Mother’s Day. From Forward Together’s Shanelle Matthews:

During the time my dad was in prison, my mom worked several jobs. She was a single parent to my siblings and me and was forced to work around the clock to support us. Because of this, her time with us was limited. When she was away at work—which was often—Dora and Betty and another woman whose name I can’t remember cared for us. My mom was committed to making sure we had food and clothes and somewhere to live, things I got to take for granted. Betty and Dora and the woman whose name I can’t remember were all undocumented immigrant women from Guatemala. They spoke little English and sometimes spent the night at our house. One of my brother’s first words was “zapato” (Spanish for shoe). It wasn’t until I became aware of the fight for domestic workers’ rights that I realized that these women from Guatemala were taking care of us so they could take care of their families. How maddening to recognize that the cycles of poverty that we face today are the same as those our parents experienced decades ago.

Writing this I started over two and three and four times. It wasn’t until the fifth try that I understood that my mom, my biological dad, and the women from Guatemala shared a common thread—their lives were divided by partitions, literally and figuratively. But the fight for a living wage, to end mass incarceration, and to create comprehensive policies on immigration and a pathway to citizenship, all of these threaten to topple the barriers affecting our most impacted communities: immigrants, poor people, and people of color—often one in the same.

My biological dad, my mom, and the women from Guatemala were kept away from their families by partitions, fences, glass ceilings, and social prejudices. What held these dividers in place was bureaucratic red tape; the kind that builds on outdated notions of what families look like and what they deserve. The kind of red tape that forces immigrant families to wait fifteen years for health care; the kind of red tape that keeps same-sex couples from marriage, second-parent adoption, and spousal benefits; the kind of red tape that limits access to comprehensive sex education, access to contraception, reproductive healthcare, and culturally appropriate resources for families of color; the kind of red tape that allows border patrol officers to shoot and kill families desperate for a better quality of life. This red tape is responsible for the deaths of millions. In the process, we’re becoming desensitized to empathy.

From Erin Konsmo, Media Arts & Projects Coordinator at Native Youth Sexual Health Network, founded and run by Racialicious’ own Jessica Danforth:

Mothering is an act of resistance and reclamation for many Indigenous Peoples. To be a mother has become a way to push back on ongoing legacies of European and Western notions of what “proper” mothering is. Mothers resist continual state custody, foster care, and the removal of Indigenous children from their homes. To be a mother is to resist forms of cultural genocide.

The health and well-being of a nation depends on the health and well-being of mothers. That is not to say that our male, Two Spirit, and gender fabulous community members aren’t just as important. At the same time, we do recognize that we all belong to Mother Earth.

Indigenous youth are resisting narratives that don’t recognize the sacredness of the many ways we bring life to all that we do; we are restoring our own definitions of mama, building up families when we are disconnected from our own, caring for other Indigenous youth as we resist colonization, and sharing our knowledge with new generations about our bodies and our sexualities. All of this is a restoration of mothering and what it means to be a mama.

And from Diana Thu-Thao Rhodes, Advocates for Youth‘s State Strategies Manager:

I brag about my mama. A lot. I brag about my mama because she won’t do it herself. I brag about my mama because she is one of those mamas whose real life experiences are all too often bundled into one-dimensional statistics, and whose identity as a parent is all too often understood as a result of social determinants rather than strength and resilience.

I also say this because of my mama’s unique relationship to the spectrum of motherhood. She started her parenting career as a teen mom and then later graduated to becoming an older mother. At age 19, she had me and then later in life, at nearly 40 years old, she had my younger brother. This puts me roughly 20 years between my mama on one side and my brother on the other side. Essentially, my mama has raised two “only children.” Her story covers two distinct social narratives, one about teen moms and a second about older mothers, narratives that are not normally so closely shared. But in my family’s case, they’re one in the same.

Maybe send an excerpt from one of the essays on the cards?

 

Meanwhile, On TumblR: The Non-Fiction Flick And Vid Edition

By Andrea Plaid

I think I’ve been a bad influence on the R’s Senior Editor Tami Winfrey Harris because I’ve been talking her into watching documentaries for our Table for Two posts. We have another one lined up next week (with a special guest breaking the proverbial bread with us), but I want to hip y’all to some other non-fiction flicks and vids…

…starting off with Youth Speak‘s and University of California San Francisco’s collaboration on this great PSA about Type 2 diabetes. Instead of fat-shaming–as too many food-justice docs do when discussing the links between body size, physical condition, and health–this video gives a structural analysis on who’s to blame and how to hold them accountable to the rest of us. (H/t @newmodelminority)

Continue reading