16 July 2008

the "r-word" chronicles ...

First, belated happy 108th b-day wishes to Martha Berryhill, Muscogee/Creek.

Next, a brady [johnny] bravo [yes, a brady bravo is a good thing] to Ian Thomsen, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, who recently wrote advice to Seattle's NBA franchise owner as he, an Okie, moves the club to Indian Territory/Oklahoma. On what not to call the new team, Thomsen says, "And don't get me started on how wrong it is to call a team the 'Redskins.'" Good to hear from someone at such a recognized sports news source.

Less recognized is something called BleacherReport.com. Robert Johnson, a writer over there, posted one of those articles yesterday, you know, the kind that's replete with the same pro-"Redskins"-as-mascot arguments. Our response, posted at the same site, reads as follows:

"Mr. Johnson: We ran across your article via http://www.indianz.com/. You wrote, "Our story begins nearly 20 years ago. During the early '90s a new fad was born. The phrase 'Politically Correct' entered the lexicon. [...] The 'Native Americans' began to find other places where they felt slighted: sports teams."

OUR STORIES (i.e., Indigenous Peoples' stories) began long before this one, on lands known dominantly today as "America." As for saying that "Indian"-related mascots did not become an issue until "the early '90s" for "Native Americans" (i.e., a non-Native-constructed term), you have thus ignored the work of preceding decades. Since the 1960s, over 3,000 schools (from elementary to college) have dropped "Indian"-related monikers. Folks, including non-Natives, are starting to understand.

Your perspective, Mr. Johnson, is arguably part of a shrinking collective of mindsets that supports "Redskins" and Wahoos as mascots and logos. You seemingly do not know what it means to be Ind'n, to be Indigenous, in the 21st-century. You're a newcomer to these lands, yet this is how you speak to Ind'ns? How can you tell folks, especially Indigenous youth, what should or should not offend them? It's not about being politically correct; it's about being humanly respectful (and respectfully human). Although you show little respect to Native Peoples in your trite, flawed writing, we still wish you well and hope that your research will lead you towards learning in good ways from your elders.


Brady, http://www.bradybraves.blogspot.com/


here's Robert Johnson's "starting-to-'get-it'-but-still-far-from-'it'" response to readers (and notice the apology to the if-offended, also known as an "apologizing-but-i-don't-know-why-i-am-apologizing" apology):

"So many responses, so many valid points. When I initially wrote this article, my intent was not to offend, but to point out how crazy this "politically correct" world has become.

It was never my intent to offend any of the surviving relatives of the indigenous people of what is now North America. If any were so offended, then I sincerely apologize.

Many have been quick to label me a racist based on my views. That's fine, you have that right.
I have never had anyone refer to me as a Redskin in anger or disgust. So my niavete I guess would be in the fact that I would never think to refer to anyone in that manner as the team name has a positive-feeling attachment for me...not a negative one. I'm not alone in this. The Washington Redksns have a huge fan-base. Hundreds of thousands of fans who all probably feel pretty much the same way. The images of a bounty on the head of every "red-skin" is not what I associated with the term, it was my team. I still feel that way. I will be honest and say that until it was brought up, and all of this fuss was created, I never would have known that word would have such power over anyone as to hurt them or cause anger.

This isn't a retraction, and it doesn't mean that my opinion has changed. To be honest, the only thing that would change my opinion would be if the team did change it's name because then all that would be left for me with that specific term would be an out-dated racial slur."

1 comment:

Rob said...

Good job, BBB. You can see my response to Johnson's column here:

Indians really red-skinned?