Tag Archives: native american

Because Blatant Slurs Aren’t Good Enough

by Latoya Peterson

An interesting article made its way to me last week. “Coded Prejudice is a Cloaked Dagger,” from the Chicago Tribune:

Tomeika Broussard thought it was so absurd when she overheard her supervisor refer to her as a “reggin” that she just laughed. Then she realized it was the n-word spelled backward.

The only African-American in the small medical clinic in Los Gatos, Calif., Broussard said she was subjected to racial slurs almost daily. They were not the overt ones that most people would immediately recognize, but rather subtle, surreptitious code words that sometimes take a while to figure out.

“When ‘reggin’ came up, I’d never heard that word but I knew it was negative. So I had this kind of nervous, shocked laugh,” said Broussard, 31, who was awarded $44,000 in damages last year in a racial harassment lawsuit filed after she was fired from her job as a file clerk. “I didn’t know whether it was illegal, but I knew it was not OK. It was humiliating.”

Federal officials say they have seen an increase in harassment complaints involving coded words and images in the workplace. Whether it is geared toward racial groups, religious affiliations, sex or sexual orientation, code words have proliferated in recent years through the Internet, where Web sites provide forums for creating, discussing and spreading new words promoting intolerance.

I find it fascinating that most of the racism that the majority of people can identify as racist must be (1) blatantly obvious like carving “KKK” into someone’s yard and (2) must have a widely held history of being offensive, like the word nigger. However, even those appear to be up for debate these days.

In the meantime, racism has migrated into this weird “gotcha!” strategy where people use slurs and epithets either (1) openly, by claiming they are ironic, or (2) covertly, subbing an innocuous word for what they really want to say. Like Canadian.

And, unlike the last few code word stories that have been reported, it isn’t just white people in on this one:

As the country becomes more diverse, cases also have resulted from culture clashes between African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians, according to the EEOC.

For example, an assembly technician in San Jose, Calif., sued the company he worked for last year, claiming he was harassed by a Vietnamese co-worker who repeatedly played loud rap music with anti-black racial epithets. The lawsuit charged the co-worker also sang the lyrics within earshot of him.

In another case, a black employee was repeatedly called “Cornelius” in a reference to the ape character from the movie “Planet of the Apes.” Another case involved a man of Chinese and Italian ancestry who was taunted daily by his foreman, who referred to him as ” Bruce Lee.”

The article also gives an interesting overview of court cases based on code words:

Boss’ comments: In May 2006, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission settled a hostile work environment case against a Florida furniture store chain where a manager allegedly made racially and sexually offensive remarks to a black employee, referred to the African-Americans as “you people” and interracial couples as “Oreos” or “Zebras,” and disparaged the worker for marrying a Caucasian man.

American Indians targeted: In November 2004, the EEOC settled a case against an upstate New York computer parts manufacturer where American Indians employees were subjected to frequent name-calling, war whoops and other derogatory statements referring to being “on the warpath” and to scalping, alcohol abuse and living in tepees.

Insults, denied opportunities: In March 2007, MBNA America agreed to pay $147,000 to settle a Title VII lawsuit alleging discrimination and harassment based on race and national origin. According to the lawsuit, an Asian Indian employee was subjected to ethnic taunts, such as being called “dot-head” and “Osama bin Laden,” was assaulted by a co-worker with a learning disability who believed he was bin Laden’s brother, and was denied training and promotional opportunities afforded his white co-workers.

Marriage attacked: On April 1, 2008, the 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals in New York ruled in favor of a white basketball coach at Iona College who said he was criticized by a college vice president for marrying a black woman whom he called an “Aunt Jemima.”

Application labeled: On June 10, 2008, a Steeleville, Ill., home health-care agency settled an EEOC lawsuit charging that the agency denied an African-American woman a job and wrote “Black” across the top of her application.

(Thanks Aaminah!)

(Image Credit: CNN)

I’m Sure You’ve Got Plenty to Say

by Guest Contributor Calabar, originally published at Girl in the Machine

Natan: …

Remember the good ol’ days after the first world war when European vampires still embarked on sabbaticals to the American south-west, cat-people ran Hollywood from behind the scenes, and cheeky teenage detectives could break into high-security compounds like Alcatraz without consequences?

Oh wait—that’s not real life. It’s Shadow Hearts: From the New World (thank goodness).

There’s something about this irreverent video game series that I find incredibly appealing, but sometimes it leaves me scratching my head. The way the developers choose to represent characters can be a little disingenuous. In particular, minority characters have their differences from the mainstream magnified one hundredfold. Whether it’s the swishy Magimel tailors or the so-Mexican-it-hurts mariachi singer Ricardo, everything is so overblown that it’s difficult to take it seriously.

While discussing the game with BomberGirl and PlasmaRit, we became interested in the “strong and silent” Native American character Natan. We wondered how much he actually had to say throughout the course of the game, and I honestly couldn’t recall. It’s been a while since I’ve played it.

To investigate our suspicions, I combed through one hundred and ten pages of the Shadow Hearts: From the New World script. From beginning to end, the script is 30,324 words long.

Natan says 768 words. Continue reading

NPR Reports on the Strange History of Native American Boarding Schools

by Latoya Peterson

This is Tom Torlino.

He attended the Carlisle School – a special boarding school for Native American students. The picture provides both a before and after spending time at the school. The before and after photo is but one illustration NPR uses to tell the story of Native American boarding schools in the US. In a report titled “Native American Boarding Schools Haunt Many,” correspondent Charla Bear digs deep into the practices and processes used to forcibly strip young Native Americans from their heritage.

Check out the chilling reason these schools were developed in the first place:

The federal government began sending Native Americans to off-reservation boarding schools in the 1870s, when the United States was still at war with Indians.

An Army officer, Richard Pratt, founded the first of these schools. He based it on an education program he had developed in an Indian prison. He described his philosophy in a speech he gave in 1892.

“A great general has said that the only good Indian is a dead one,” Pratt said. “In a sense, I agree with the sentiment, but only in this: that all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him, and save the man.”

Continue reading

Link Love – PoC in SciFi Carnival #9 – What I Heard About You and What it Meant For Me

by Latoya Peterson

I am really starting to become a fan of these Live Journal carnivals. The PoC in SciFi Carnival 9 is out and here are my two favorite pieces.

Untrue-Accounts provides a ridiculously great analysis of race, sex, and gender in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And it comes with a video!

1. The story of the coat

I had the line “It’s Nikki Wood’s fucking coat” long before I had a song or a vidder or a title.

Spike wears the long black duster from his first appearance on Buffy, but we only find out its history in S5′s “Fool for Love.” Spike relates his history to Buffy (in, it’s strongly implied, somewhat unreliable terms) and the viewers see how he came to adopt his Johnny Rotten persona in a series of flashbacks. Spike starts out as a young aesthete in Victorian London; after his romantic overture is rejected by the woman he’s in love with, he accepts vamping by Drusilla. Once turned, he adopts a tough, lower-class persona, which reaches full expression once he kills a Slayer during the Boxer Rebellion and literally consummates his triumph by sex with Dru over the Slayer’s corpse. Two of Spike’s physical identifiers — the scar through one eyebrow and the coat he wears — are souvenirs of the Slayers he’s fought and killed: the Chinese Slayer slashes his face during their final battle and he steals the coat off the body of a black Slayer in the ’70s subways of New York after he kills her. Spike responds, ultimately, to rejection by a woman by the murder of other women and by stealing their identifiers–their identities, their stories–for his own. Continue reading

Glamour Magazine Article Follow Up: Race in the Comments

by Racialicious Special Correspondent Latoya Peterson

Just a quick follow up on an older post, as I noticed something of interest.

Of the thirteen comments on the Glamour article we spoke about a bit earlier, two were made by Native Americans:

Feb 26, 2008 8:12:59 PM
katurtle says:
I would first like to say, Hurah for putting yet another race-loving-be-yourself-being-black-is-beautiful idea out into the world. People need to know that, when it comes to different races, there are different styles and natural things that come with being said race. No, I am not raciest, however, I am not black, asian, or hispanic. And I would like to say, given all this “minorities are important and we need to stop racism” stuff that is out in the world, many Americans are forgetting the smallest minority, in my opinion the most important (seeing as I am in this minority.) of all. Native Americans, we have been on this beautiful land the longest, I’m sorry if I offend others, but we have been the most shunned apon, and down-casted race in America. Look up the trail of tears, how many of my people have been killed for this land, we don’t even get recognition. I think it is high time everyone stopped thinking Blacks are the only minority, becasue to be honest they aren’t even a minority anymore. Look how many black people are in this country, how many times people think they need to stand up and be heard, blacks are the most popular and heard of minority in the world. Forgive me, but I think Native Americans deserve to have collums in magazine’s dedicated to their hair, we need articles about how living on a reservation and being one of the poorest races has affected us. Do you know all that Native Americans have been put through, does anyone, No, and it is time we are thought of, it is time I get tips on how to make my hair shine(not that it needs to, it is Native American after all). I have never been able to take any of the tips in magazines and put them to use. Sure every other race gets their say, but what about us. It’s time Blacks step down from thier thrown, it is time they get over the horrible treatment they have endured 200 years ago and let us be heard.

Continue reading

Kid Nation meets Indians

by guest contributor Rob Schmidt, originally published at Newspaper Rock

Usually I don’t watch reality shows. They’re too hokey and manipulative for my taste. But I had to look when the penultimate episode of Kid Nation (airdate: 12/5/07) featured Indians.

If you don’t know the premise of Kid Nation, it’s simple. A bunch of kids have been “left alone” to “pioneer” in a Western “town” set up in the “wilderness” near Santa Fe. “40 Kids! 40 Days! No Adults!” is the show’s tagline.

I use quotes because it’s obvious the whole thing is staged. One adult acts as a moderator on-screen and other adults are just off-screen: holding cameras and asking questions. Knowing little about the show, I’d guess that every scene is planned and executed by a director with a script. The kids have some latitude about what to say but they’re basically puppets.

How contrived is Kid Nation? In the episode’s inevitable competition, the kids have an hour to move shacks from one location to another. What are the odds that the last team will complete the task with exactly one second to spare? Pretty good if it’s a staged “reality show.”

Indians to the rescue?

As “Where’s Bonanza, Dude?” opens, it’s Day 35 of 40. Led by a “town council,” the faux Bonanza City seems to be under control. Why then are the kids checking an “1885 journal” for help?

Supposedly written by Bonanza City’s first settlers, the journal says the townsfolk failed to explore beyond the outpost’s borders. It advises the readers to seek out the people who lived there “centuries before us.” It even includes a map.

In theory, this is a valid idea. America’s plucky but ignorant pioneers often relied on the Indians they met. Starting with John Smith at Jamestown, they frequently had to find help or die.

Using Indians as practical and philosophical guides from the beginning would’ve been a worthwhile approach. But the show is almost over. What possible aid could the Indians provide at this point? It’s hard to imagine.

The premise might as well have a flashing red light and blinking sign that says “gratuitous.” It’s painfully obvious that this is going to be a gimmick. Apparently the show’s creators want to get the town council off stage for an hour so the other kids can shine. They might as well have sent these pseudo-leaders to the mall.

Igloo or teepee?

So the town’s four honchos wander off into the semi-tame “wilderness.” (I suspect it’s grazing land on a ranch.) Eventually they come over a rise and spot…what? “It looks like an igloo,” guesses one boy. No, it’s…teepees.

Is there a single child in America who couldn’t tell an igloo from a teepee? I doubt it. But let’s assume the show’s creators found the one kid dumb enough to make this mistake. Let’s pretend it wasn’t a scripted moment. CONTINUE READING >>

Martha Stewart, Playing with “Indian” Names?

by guest contributor BB, originally published at Brady Braves

Well, this was a rare moment: a story on Indianz.com involving Martha Stewart. She has a place (i.e., 153-acre estate purchased in 2000 for the trifling cost of $16 million) in Katonah, NY. Now, Stewart wants to trademark “Katonah” for some of her products. Never mind if Katonah residents (of the Village Improvement Society in Katonah) are not pleased. Never mind if today’s descendants of Chief Katonah of the Lenape Nation are not pleased. As reported by Jim Fitzgerald, AP, Diana Pearson, a Stewart spokesperson, says Stewart “seeks to honor the town and the hamlet by using the word `Katonah.’”

And I suppose the Hornell Brewing Company had “honor” in mind when it slapped the revered name Crazy Horse on malt liquor bottles in 1992. (Crazy Horse, says David Wilkins (Lumbee) in American Indian Politics (2001), “is remembered as a staunch Sioux nationalist who remained committed to his people throughout his short life. He never signed a treaty with the federal government, and he opposed the use of alcohol by his people” (229)). I suppose Liz Claiborne, fashion guru, also had “honor” in mind when her clothing company threaded Crazy Horse (and Cherokee) on tags. Although one of Stewart’s lawyers said that his client’s use of the name “will not stop Katonah residents – or anyone else – from using the name Katonah exactly as they always have,” what will happen? Likely, Katonah becomes synonymous with Martha Stewart products (much to Stewart’s delight, the BBB imagines), not with Lenape People, not with descendants of Katonah, not with respect for Indigenous Peoples, not with honor for Katonah, New York, residents. To Ms. Stewart and Ms. Stewart followers: One’s intentions do not always match the effects.

As said before in “Indian” mascot debates and other contested arenas, it is difficult to honor those who are not honored, including Autumn Scott (Ramapough Lenape), the New Jersey State Commission on Indian Affairs co-chair. “We trust,” Scott explains, “that Martha Stewart intended no malice in seeking to have her corporation trademark the name of one of our great ancestral leaders, but for her to say she is doing so to honor him and our tribe is absurd, especially when it is being done solely for profit.” Although Stewart is talking of honoring the town, a place of refuge for her, the town is named after the Lenape (Delaware) leader. Stewart, then, would do well to address certain Native People’s warranted concerns. So far, she has greeted them with silence.

Stewart may not talk, but we Brady Braves can. Thoughts of righteous anger can be sent to television@marthastewart.com (address available at www.marthastewart.com, more specifically this page) A customer service number available at www.marthastewartstore.com is 1-800-357-7060.