Category Archives: sports

Thanks for the severed head. You proved my point

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[Note: The image above has been making the rounds of social media recently. Adrienne K. of Native Appropriations pointed out on Facebook that the image "makes a powerful statement against Indian mascots. Believe it or not, this guy has been at it for three years."]

By Guest Contributor Adrienne K.; originally published at Native Appropriations in 2010.

Game 4. Philly Flyers vs. Chicago Blackhawks. The Flyers score a goal, and VERSUS tv shows this guy. This guy, holding an impaled, severed, Indian head. On national tv. Close up on his prop:

So disturbing, so graphic, and just what I wanted to wake up to on a Saturday morning. Truly sickening in the literal sense.

This proves it, without a doubt. Native American mascots are demeaning, stereotyping, and harmful to Native people. The Blackhawks logo is often touted as a “good” image–not evil or stupid looking, nothing like chief wahoo or the other blatantly racist images. But “good” image or not (and I still stand that no Indian mascot is a good mascot), clearly this demonstrates the danger when fans are given control over a mascot and image. There is no excuse for this man’s actions.

That’s one area mascot debates rarely cover–the actions of rival team’s fans and how they affect Native people. When an entire arena is shouting things like “Beat the Indians!” “Scalp the Redskins!” “F*@! the Blackhawks!” Can you imagine how it would feel to be a Native person hearing those things?

Even more upsetting about this image is the American history behind beheadings and scalpings of American Indians at the hands of whites. Into the late 1800′s, the california government offered bounties of 5 dollars per Indian head brought into city hall. The heads of great Indian leaders were kept as souvenirs by the US military, or strung up in trees or on posts to serve as a warning to other Indians who dare disobey. Scalping, a practice commonly associated with blood-thirsty Indians, was actually more widely used by the European settlers, and bounties were offered for Indian scalps as well. This proclamation from 1775 calls for scalps from Native men, women, and children–offering different rewards for each.

That’s why this makes me even more sick to my stomach.

We could also talk about how the TV station decided it was ok to air the image of this man, multiple times, or how the security at the arena let him through with that spear, and what those actions say about our society, or, per usual, draw the comparisons to other groups. Would a tv station air an image of a man carrying around an impaled Black head? Asian? Latino? No.

I’ve been getting a lot of emails lately about the Chicago Blackhawks, I’m assuming because of all the publicity with the Stanley Cup. A couple of people sent over this image:

Apparently the Chicago Tribune puts feathers on the homepage every time the team has a game. The feathers are pulled from the Blackhawks logo itself:

There have also been a few editorials circulating about the logo, and whether it’s time for a change. This one, from the Star, is pretty spot on. I talked a little bit about the danger of mascots and the psychological implications for Native students in this post about Tommy Tomahawk at Stilwell HS in OK. I recommend a read of Stephanie Fryburg’s work I link to in that post.

Even die-hard hockey fans can fall under the anti-hipster headdress manifesto.

So, overall, I guess I can–in a twisted and sick way–thank that Flyers fan. Anytime anyone says there is no harm in Indian mascots, I’m sending them that picture.

Offensive Logo has got to go: http://www.thestar.com/sports/hockey/nhl/article/815709–cox-offensive-blackhawks-logo-has-got-to-go

Flyers Fan celebrates with Impaled Head: http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/blog/puck_daddy/post/Flyers-fan-celebrates-goal-with-impaled-Indian-h?urn=nhl,245889

Original pictures of the fan are from The Starter Wife: http://blackandgoldtchotchkes.com/

Earlier:

Meet Stilwell HS’s new Mascot: Tommy Tomahawk-http://nativeappropriations.blogspot.com/2010/01/stilwell-high-schools-new-mascot.html

Tommy Tomahawk Update: http://nativeappropriations.blogspot.com/2010/01/tommy-tomahawk-update-school-board.html

Quoted: Race + Sports and Native Mascots

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Photograph by Jim McIsaac/Getty

You’d think that a team represented by a giant anthropomorphized baseball would be able to remain safely outside the perennial controversies surrounding the sports world’s continued use of Native American mascots. But that probably gives the Mets too much credit. And so, of course, when the team decided that it would be a nice gesture to organize game-day festivities with the local American Indian community, it took months for someone to realize the potentially problematic scheduling of Native American Heritage Day on July 25th, when the Atlanta Braves were in town. Faced with the prospect of embarrassing their guests and not wanting to appear insensitive, the Mets followed centuries of American tradition and shafted the Native Americans.

Last week, the New York Times reported, the Mets alerted its chosen partner for the event, the American Indian Community House, about the change in plans: there would be no more traditional performances outside Citi Field for fans arriving at the game, nor would there be an announcement about the day on the Jumbotron. The team did offer to move Native American Heritage Day elsewhere on the calendar, but by that point the A.I.C.H. had spent months organizing its annual Native American Week around the July 25th game. Out of understandable frustration with the Mets organization, it decided to drop out of the event altogether.

– “Another Error at Citifield,” by Caitlin Kelly via The New Yorker

Cheering for the Chicago Blackhawks: A Tradition of Racial Play

By Guest Contributor Charles Fruehling Springwood

Members of the Chicago Blackhawk celebrate winning the Stanley Cup in a June 28 parade. Image by tanveer.i.ali via Flickr creative commons.

As a white youth growing up playing ice hockey in the 1960s, in a Chicago suburb, I fell in love with the Chicago Blackhawks. I watched Hawks games on T.V., and during the intermissions between the periods, I retired to the kitchen (and its smooth, slick tile floor) to shoot my plastic puck at the cabinets. For the kitchen shootouts, I channeled my all-time favorite, the always-helmeted Stan Mikita, or on occasion, Bobby Hull. Born just after the team’s 1961 Stanley Cup championship, I anticipated – without too much patience – the next championship, and suffered through the team’s two failed Stanley Cup appearances in the early seventies.

But between those years and the team’s next championships in 2010 and now 2013, my Native American friends encouraged me to reflect more deeply on the way symbols like the team’s own “Chief Black Hawk” distorted their identities, particularly in the imaginations of white Americans. Ultimately, in graduate school at the University of Illinois-Champaign, I critiqued my school’s infamous mascot, Chief Illiniwek, and my friend Richard King and I went on to edit Team Spirits: The Native American Mascot Controversy, a 2001 collection of essays giving voice to how Native Americans feel about many of these manifestations of the power of non-Indian, mostly white institutions and people to (re)represent, (re)name, and (re)contextualize Native peoples for white purposes.

In his foreword for the book, renowned scholar Vine Deloria Jr. of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation wrote:

With diehard refusal to change the names and logos of sports teams we always hear the justification that the name is being used to ‘honor’ us. This tortured reasoning makes its proponents look absurd. Obviously if garish costumes, demeaning cheers, and crude logos are the essence of honor, then the various sports halls of fame need to perform drastic surgery on the busts and plaques of their honorees. The excuse, being lame, must conceal something more profound, which cannot or will not be articulated by those people ‘honoring’ us.

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On That Serena Williams/Steubenville Comment

By Arturo R. García

Serena Williams. Image via imgace.com

Tuesday afternoon portions of a new Rolling Stone profile of tennis star Serena Williams went online, but one section in particular set off red flags and trigger warnings online.

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Quoted: The Multifaceted Serena Williams

Serena Williams winning the French Open via Sports Illustrated

PARIS — In one of her more revealing moments this tournament, Serena Williams addressed the various personalities that reside deep within her. Since she first infiltrated the Tennisphere in the late 1990s, Serena has been a bundle of contradictions and unpredictability. We call her by her first name, yet she remains mysterious in some ways. Now, 15 years into an astonishing career — filled with all sorts of plot twists and relentless, almost devotional, winning — we have some insight into the driving forces.

There’s Summer. “My assistant who lives inside my body,” Serena said. “She’s really organized and she’s amazing. I love her.”

Then there’s Megan. “I think she was a bad girl. … Haven’t seen her in a long time.”

And there’s Laquanda. “She’s not allowed to come out. She’s on probation. She’s not nasty. She just keeps it real. And you don’t want to cross her.”

The same facets that continue to make Serena a singularly compelling personality also inform her tennis. The casual fans will see she won still another major singles title Saturday afternoon in Paris — we’re up to 16, for those scoring at home — beating a game Maria Sharapova 6-4, 6-4 in the French Open final. They will assume Serena did what she often does and brought her insurmountable power to bear, turning a tennis match into a physical altercation, playing with peerless intensity.

And they would be right. But they would be missing the multiple personalities of her tennis game.

“Serena’s personalities, legendary game produce French Renaissance;” On Sunday afternoon Serena Williams defeated Maria Sharapova to win the French Open, her sixteenth singles title. With Wimbledon around the corner, Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated takes a look at Serena’s winning strategies and shows that her success goes beyond the physical.

 

Quoted: A Letter of Love to Brittney Griner and Jason Collins

On New Black Man (In Exile), writers, academics and thinkers, including Mark Anthony Neal, Darnell L. Moore, Hashim Pipkin, Kai M. Green, Mychal Denzel Smith, Kiese Laymon, Marlon Peterson, and Wade Davis II, offer an open letter to newly out, black athletes, Jason Collins and Brittney Griner:

Jason: corporations, movements, and the like will quickly want to turn you into a commodity. They will want to sell your understanding of desire. They will want to anoint you the face of the LGBTQ sports movement. You made history and should very well be lifted up. But remember that there are black gay men (some of them athletes) whose lives and stories will never register among the very people who will praise you. Some other feminine-performing black man will still be someone’s “fag.” Some other non-athlete, non-celebrity, non-college educated, and non-wealthy black gay man may not receive support, let alone acknowledgement. Given that social fact, we ask that you please remember those black gay men and help those who will turn to you to do the same.

 Brittney: that we have yet to make a lot of noise about your story says something about the way that we undervalue women and women athletes, especially black women athletes who defy rigid gender restrictions. We recognize that you have been on the receiving end of vitriolic homophobic, sexist and transphobic remarks and, yet, you refuse to allow ignorance to still your success and contentment. You exist in an intersection where your race, gender expression, and sexual identity opens you up to multiple forms of oppression and because of that we believe strongly that you would understand the plights of so many black LGBTQ people. Please remember the depth of their struggles when the movements and corporations knock at your door.

Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Sherman Alexie’s Essay On Jason Collins

By Andrea Plaid

Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie

Those who follow this weekly post know that we just don’t crush out about people here; we’ve been known to show massive love to things like photographs around here. This week’s Crush is along that line.

This week’s Loved Up is Sherman Alexie’s essay about basketball player Jason Collins coming out this week. “Why,” you ask? As the R’s Owner/Editor Latoya Peterson said, “Sherman Alexie is a fool, and we should celebrate it.”

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Shade And Faith: On ESPN’s Burial Of The Jason Collins Story

By Arturo R. García

NBA center Jason Collins in an April 29 interview with ABC News.

The statement from ESPN on Tuesday was predictably, almost disappointingly dry, given what prompted it. After willingly being the media equivalent of the person at somebody else’s celebration who tries to upstage the host’s announcement, this is what the network had to say for itself:

We regret that a respectful discussion of personal viewpoints became a distraction from today’s news. ESPN is fully committed to diversity and welcomes Jason Collins’ announcement.

If you missed it, here’s what that “respectful discussion” about Collins public declaration of his sexuality, making him the first active gay player in one of the country’s more lucrative/”major” sports leagues turned into:


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