Jan 21, 2014 - Mascots like the Redsk*ns are Control Mechanisms Used to Suppress Natives Who Fight Assimilation and Extinction, By Danielle Miller
As if my previous article didn’t provide enough proof that Redsk*ns has historical origins of racism, more evidence has been uncovered.
This Disney cartoon is latent with a slew of negative Native American stereotypes. While some people may say that the cartoon was a product of its time, Disney even made a commentary before the cartoon explaining the mockery of inaccurate “western stereotypes”. If Disney was so aware of the harm caused by stereotypes in westerns, then they should have also been aware of the harm caused by stereotypes perpetuated by sports mascots. Regardless of whether their true intentions were to mock the stereotypes, they were aware of the potential offense that would be taken to this cartoon and that’s why a statement justifying its message was produced.
My previous articles explain the harm that the savage stereotype perpetuates when teams like the Braves do their tomahawk chop dance. Other incidents which blatantly showed the racism that results from Native sports team names was the sonic sign which literally celebrated the genocidal act of scalping, and other racial epitaphs. High school football teams have made signs mocking the Trail of Tears. How many more incidents until America will overcome their cognitive dissonance and refusal to treat Native Americans with respect?
The cartoon makes reference to specific tribes: the Apache and Blackfoot. It even makes reference to specific Lakota historical figures, Rain in the Face, and Crazy Horse. The cartoon does such a good job at “mocking” the ridiculousness of stereotyping, when it uses the Redsk*ns and the Cleveland Indians. If they were observant enough to recognize this in 1945, you would think they would reaffirm their assertions after all the recent racially charged incidents which took place as a result of Native American themed team names and mascots.
My theory that Native American slurs as the “redsk*ns” were used as a control mechanism to suppress Native Americans that fought termination and assimilation has only been reaffirmed by this cartoon. We can add all the specific tribes and figures referenced in the cartoon to the list of those discriminated against right along with Sitting Bull, Wounded Knee victims and the Ghost Dancers. All have been called Redsk*ns by the media (see previous column).
There have been racist signs, dead Native props, and even specific names of tribes and Chiefs have been insulted in context which references the Redsk*ns. My question is, how much more proof do we need? Are people going to wait until discrimination escalates to literal acts of violence to even give agency to the issue? Media outlets keep using dismissive rhetoric denying that these incidents are even racist, when anyone with a conscious and common sense knows the racism is blatant.
No matter what supporters use to give credence to the legitmacy of the name, nothing will change its history of genocidal origins or the fact that it was used to insult our ancestors who fought to keep our traditions alive. The good intentioned romanticism is not doing anything to soften the blow of the racist incidents that occur as a result of these Native sports teams.
While everyone is paying attention to the wrong conversations and giving racist acts the benefit of the doubt by disputing whether we are even aloud to question whether Native mascots like the Redsk*ns are racist, racism is continuing to damage the moral fabric of our society. Corporations like McDonalds are even selling racism to our children. We see other racist “traditions” propped up with false tales and stereotypes taught to our children during Thanksgiving. Corporations have to justify drilling oil and committing fracking on tribal lands somehow and the only way to do that is by fictionalizing and dehumanizing Native Americans with stereotypes. Of course corporations will be in support of racist stereotypes and will hold onto them as long as possible, to justify their acts of conquest.
When so many people embrace the ideas of a “post racial society” they are not using the advice given to us by our predecessors, by revolutionaries like Russell Means, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Malcolm taught us that we have to acknowledge that racism exists in order for it to be eradicated. Martin Luther King Jr. acknowledged the fact that our country was built on Indigenous genocide and through all his efforts spoke of all races truly embracing “brotherhood”. Russell Means taught us that eradicating racism against the Indigenous is not just beneficial to Indigenous peoples but crucial in the fight for all Americans constitutional rights and desire for equality.
These stereotypes make Native Americans into nothing but depictions which are frozen in time. It’s time to move forward, because progress will never be made when everyone is living in the past. Its time to stop quoting the “I have a dream speech” with the nostalgia and satisfaction of remaining stagnant in racial relations. There will be no progress if our nation continues to embrace the traditions of racism which should be left with our haunting past. Many say they do not want to carry the guilt for the atrocities that their ancestors committed; to that I say, the weight will never be lifted until there is genuine attempts made to change and take direct action on injustices committed.
While we all are aware of the “bigger issues,” lets begin our journey of acceptance by having the decency to respect each other. Without respect we cannot solve the bigger issues.
Honor should not be ambiguous or forced. Honor does not come from mocking depictions of culture or reminders of past atrocities. Stop “honoring” white supremacy and take the time to start actually respecting each other as human beings.