Tag Archives: Washington D.C.

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Race + Sports: Dan Snyder’s ‘Original Americans Foundation’

By Arturo R. García

Dan Snyder apparently attempted to sidestep the continuing criticism around his National Football League franchise on Monday, announcing the formation of an “Original Americans Foundation” in a four-page letter on his team’s website, the Washington Post reported.

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Native American Activists’ Super Bowl Response: ‘Proud To Be’

By Arturo R. García

The National Congress of American Indians released “Proud To Be” over Super Bowl weekend, a video adding more faces and names to the increasing call for the National Football League to change the name of the Washington D.C. franchise.

The league’s latest effort to skirt the issue came Friday, when Commissioner Roger Goodell refused to say whether he would call a Native American person a “R*dskin” to their face, instead hiding behind the argument that the name “presented in a way that honors Native Americans,” and saying 90 percent of Native Americans support keeping the name. (Of course, the league also denied evidence of the game’s physical and mental damage to players for years.)

Goodell’s statement is probably taken from 2002 and 2004 surveys conducted by Sports Illustrated and Anneberg. But it runs counter to an October 2013 NCAI study showing 80 percent disapproval of the team’s name in Native communities in a poll conducted by Indian Country Today.

“Neither the Sports Illustrated or Annenberg poll verified that the people they were talking to actually were Native people,” the study states. “They did not ask any questions that would have made a case that the people being polled were Native. The Indian Country Today poll was among readers who were likely to be informed about Native issues, if not informed Native people.”

The Oneida Indian Nation released a response to Goodell’s remarks on Friday:

It is deeply troubling that with the Super Bowl happening on lands that were once home to Native Americans, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell would use the event as a platform to insist that the dictionary-defined R-word racial slur against Native Americans is somehow a sign of honor. Commissioner Goodell represents a $9-billion brand with global reach, yet insists that it is somehow no big deal that his league uses those vast resources to promote this slur. In the process, he conveniently ignores all the social science research showing that the NFL’s promotion of this word has serious cultural and psychological effects on native peoples. Worse, he cites the heritage of the team’s name without mentioning that the name was given to the team by one of America’s most famous segregationists, George Preston Marshall. He also somehow doesn’t mention the heritage of the R-word itself, which was as an epithet screamed at Native Americans as they were forced at gunpoint off their lands. The fact that Mr. Goodell doesn’t seem to know any of this – or is deliberately ignoring it – suggests that for all his claims to be listening, he isn’t listening at all.

While supporting the NCAI’s overall efforts, however, Native Appropriations did point out some problematic aspects of the imagery chosen for the video. Not only were all of the historical figures cited men, she points out, but it relies too heavily on the past for its power:

The whole first minute or so of the clip focuses mostly on powwow images of Native folks in regalia, contrasted with images of reservation poverty, with images of historic figures thrown in as well. Yes, the vast majority of Americans don’t have access to any images of contemporary Native peoples, so the powwow and poverty images are important. But, I really feel like it’s time for us to complicate that narrative. With the historic images, yes, it’s definitely important to recognize the contributions of our leaders in the past–but why do we always have to return to the Edward Curtis photographs and Sitting Bull to make a point about modern Native peoples?

The transcript to the video is presented under the cut.
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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.
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Links Roundup 2.14.13

Richard LaGravenese forbade us from reading the book. He said, “Do not touch the book.” I got the book. I read half of it and then I put it down, because Amma is a maid, and I just said, “OK, there’s nothing I can learn from this.” This is a total re-imagining of the character, and I like it. I’m going to be confident and bold and say I like it because, listen, I understand and I respect the book, and I think the book is wonderful, but this is 2013, and I think that when black people are woven into the lives of characters in 2013, then I think they play other roles than maids. I think that that needs to be explored, and I hope that the audience is willing to suspend their disbelief and embrace what Richard LaGravenese has given them.

For a few years, the Kansas City Star has referred to the Washington NFL team as such. Last year, Washington City Paper held a “re-naming” contest and settled on “Pigskins.” Around that same time, DCist, unannounced, started using the shorthand “‘Skins” as a means of dancing around the official title. It’s not the first time this website has teased the team about its name; in March 2011, after the team threatened to sue The Washington Post because the paper’s pro football blog included the team’s name followed by the word “Insider,” we responded in support of Post by referring to the team as the “R*******.” (The Post’s other sports blogs—Nationals Journal, Wizards Insider, and Capitals Insider—exist with no known acrimony from the respective franchises they cover.)

But in reality, the football team’s name continues to be out there. Last week, at a Smithsonian event in which panels of academics, activists, and journalists debated the impact of the use of Native American imagery and nicknames in professional sports, the Post’s Mike Wise and USA Today’s Erik Brady were unsparing in their criticism of the Washington football team’s name, and made no secret of their discomfort of sometimes having to write it in their columns. Meanwhile, two of Wise’s colleagues in Metro—Courtland Milloy and Robert McCartney—have written in the past week that it is long past time for the local NFL squad to change its branding. The Post’s ombudsman, Patrick Pexton, joined that chorus yesterday.

Unfortunately, as Wise said at the National Museum of the American Indian last week, the only way team owner Dan Snyder will even consider authorizing a name change is if the team’s financial success hinges on such an action. “If one athlete can kick Dan Snyder in the pocketbook, I believe he will begin to look at the issue differently,” he said.

A top assistant to a Univisión news boss trashed Sen. Marco Rubio on his aide’s Facebook page, calling the Republican lawmaker a “loser” and “a token slave boy.”

It’s the latest attack in a lengthy feud between the Florida senator and the powerful Spanish-language network that conservatives charge is anti-GOP and anti-Rubio.

The latest incident began Wednesday night after Rubio’s spokesman, Alex Burgos, announced the high-profile Florida senator would give the GOP’s first-ever bilingual rebuttal to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech.

That led Univisión employee Angelica Artiles to let loose a string of partisan criticisms.

“Oh. wow, the loser is going to speak after our President,” Artiles wrote on spokesman Alex Burgos’ Facebook page at 9:33 p.m. Wednesday. “Anything to get publicity. Ask him to do us a favor and stay home that night.”

Just as New York area transwomen were extremely ticked off about the transphobic reporting of the New York that came to a head in the story that was done on Lorena Escalera, our West Coast sisters are highly pissed off about the transphobic reporting in the West Coast’s paper of record that has now come to anger raising levels with Sam Quinones’ recent LA Times article about Hollywood’s sex workers that focused on the murdered Cassidy Vickers.

The Quinones article disrespectfully referred to Vickers and the other trans sex workers as “male hookers dressed as women” and “men with women’s breasts and clothes”.

Call For Applications: AAPI Youth Summit At The White House

The White House Office of Public Engagement (WH OPE) and the East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU) cordially invites you to a Youth Summit on Friday, July 6, 2012, from 9:00AM–4:00PM at The White House, Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Washington, D.C.

The aim for this Youth Summit is to:

  • Engage today’s youth to have a more active voice in civic and political engagement
  • Educate today’s youth about important issues facing the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community
  • Empower the youth to take action in their respective communities/campuses.

In order to ensure participation from all regions of the country, please submit an application by June 1, 2012 at 12:00 pm. Limited number of seats are available, so please fill out your application as soon as possible.

Please complete the application at http://www.ecaasu.org/site/youth-summit/.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact ECAASU at nicole.fink@ecaasu.org.

1-13-12 Links Roundup

A recent study by the Yale University Child Study Center shows that Black children — especially boys — no matter their family income, receive less attention, harsher punishment and lower marks in school than their White counterparts from kindergarten all the way through college. A subsequent article published in “The Washington Post” reported that Black children in the Washington, D.C. area are suspended or expelled two to five times more often than White children. It’s a national trend that needs to be addressed.

The demographics were surprising, experts said. While blacks were still more likely than whites to see serious conflicts between rich and poor, the share of whites who held that view increased by 22 percentage points, more than triple the increase among blacks. The share of blacks and Hispanics who held the view grew by single digits.

What is more, people at the upper middle of the income ladder were most likely to see conflict. Seventy-one percent of those who earned from $40,000 to $75,000 said there were strong conflicts between rich and poor, up from 47 percent in 2009. The lowest income bracket, less than $20,000, changed the least.

The grinding economic downturn may be contributing to the heightened perception of conflict between rich and poor, said Christopher Jencks, a professor of social policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

“Rich and poor aren’t terribly distinct from secure and unemployed,” he said.

Sony Music has been ordered to pay $1.2 million (equivalent to about $656,000 in American dollars) in retroactive compensation back to 1997 for the release of the song “Veja os Cabelos Dela (Look at Her Hair)” by the Brazilian singer, comedian and politician Francisco Everardo Oliveira Silva whose stage name is Tiririca.

The lyrics not only liken a black woman’s hair to “a scouring pad for pots and pans,” but also calls her a “stinking beast.” Oy!

The lawsuit was brought forth by 10 non-governmental organizations that fight against racism. Humberto Adami, the defense attorney of the NGOs, argued that black women were offended, exposed to ridicule and felt violated due to the lyrical content of the song.

“This decision is a direct message to show how the issue of racial inequality should be treated. It is a moment to celebrate. The compensation won’t even go to the authors of the lawsuit. The money will go to the Diffused Rights Fund of the Ministry of Justice,”commented Adami.

Because immigration violations are technically a civil issue, immigrants in detention have no right to an attorney even though the consequences—deportation—can be much worse than for those facing criminal proceedings. Multiple reports in recent years have found that the bulk of immigrant detainees navigate the labyrinthine immigration system on their own, or are isolated in far-flung detention centers out of reach to legal aid services which are concentrated in urban areas.

Young people become uniquely vulnerable in these situations.

“A lot of children are scared and their age and developmental experience doesn’t allow them to understand what is expected of them or the legal remedies that they might otherwise be eligible for,” Garcia said. “Often minors do not know what they are agreeing to or how to present their cases.”

In many cases, there is no requirement that detainees see a judge, which only compounds the problem.

“These two massive deficiencies, that you have no lawyer to help advocate for you and no guarantee you can see a judge, mean that very low level ICE agents are in many cases the first and last arbiter of your citizenship claim,” said Ahilan Arulanantham, deputy legal director at the ACLU of Southern California. Too often, he said, immigration agents don’t believe or bother checking people’s stories, even when they might make valid claims of citizenship.

One or both of these checks would certainly have helped someone verify Turner’s actual identity before she got deported, Arulanantham said.

Viola: I felt like that scene represented something that you don’t see in cinema—the everyday fear that people had. Oftentimes, when you see the Civil Rights era onscreen, people are being whipped and killed, but it’s the everyday—you’re going home, you’re tired and on the bus, and all of a sudden something happens that could be life-threatening. Then, as soon as it’s over, you’re back to your life again. It’s the everyday fear you have to live with. It woke Minny and Aibileen up to the fact that they were risking their lives writing this book.

Tate Taylor: What I really, really loved about the Medgar Evers storyline and backdrop was that he was in their neighborhood. While they were doing this clandestine project, this Civil Rights leader who’s their neighbor gets murdered, and their characters are wondering, “What’s going to happen to us?”

Kathryn Stockett: It was very important for me—and for Tate—to not make this into a Civil Rights piece, but they were being infiltrated and hunted down for their color. So when that bus driver agrees to drive the white people to their destination but tells the black people to get the fuck off, he’s reminding people of the rules. I think it also makes the audience very protective of Aibileen when she’s running through the dark like that. It hurts watching it!

Excerpt: Dunbar High School’s Class of 1936 Celebrates Its’ 75th Reunion


The reunions started more than half a century ago as a way to maintain friendships. But Gray said the students later used the events to collect scholarship money for Dunbar students who planned to go to college and to recognize the vast accomplishments of their former classmates.

For example, when Sen. Edward W. Brooke III, the first black person to be elected by popular vote to the U.S. Senate, wrote in a book that the reunion was used as an opportunity to hear about his writings.

The same was done for Adelaide Cromwell, a professor emeritus at Boston University, who had written a book examining Boston’s black upper class from 1750 to 1950.

“This was African American history told through the mouths of those who experienced it,” said Betty Hewlett, who attended last week’s event in memory of her mother, Marjorie Phillips Hewlett, who died five years ago.

“I don’t think they even realize how special they are,” said Hewlett, a lawyer in Prince George’s County. “They are nothing short of amazing.”

- From The Washington Post, May 12