On Friday Ryan wrote about some of the commonalities between his Metis tribe and the Jews. His description of the proliferation of lies to justify discrimination, and of the frustration of the colonizers over the refusal to assimilate, likely resonated with anyone familiar with the propaganda war being waged against Israel and Jews.
When I read this blog post by Native American blogger and activist Adrienne K., I noticed another similarity, not exclusive to the Metis but to Native Americans and First Nations generally. I immediately identified with her frustration over the extensive coverage of a Washington Post survey that purported to show that the “Redskins” name is not actually racist at all, so everyone please stop making such a fuss about it. Like authentic Jewish voices, indigenous American voices are so vastly outnumbered by colonizers, and it is easy for them to be drowned out.
Adrienne’s description of the coverage reminded me a lot of the way that Haaretz’s Jew-bashing headlines get picked up around the world faster than you can say “internalized antisemitism.” The mainstream media loves nothing more that using the opinions of Jews to “prove” how awful Israel really is. This seemed pretty similar. Here we have it, the headlines announced, validation of our racism from real, live Redskins!
This is just an investment in white supremacy, plain and simple. It is an attempt to justify racism, justify the continued marginalization of Native peoples, justify divide-and-conquer techniques that are pitting Native people against one another. It devalues Native voices, stories, and experiences.
These mascots do not honor us. They are disparaging, stereotypical, and harmful to the psychological well being of our youth. They honor a mythic past that erases our current existence. We’ve been fighting this since the 1970’s. This is not a new fight. We just want respect as human beings, not consensus as to whether or not a mascot is “offensive.” Today’s Native peoples are the survivors, the resistors, and are vibrant, diverse, contemporary human beings who deserve to be treated as such.
Her concerns about the methodology deserve attention as well. The survey sample, she claims, is disproportionately comprised of disaffiliated individuals. Kind of like if you went to a Jewish Voice for Peace convention and asked them whether they think BDS is antisemitic. The results of that survey wouldn’t really tell you very much.
If nothing else is able to convince you that this team name is problematic, check out some of her examples of the way Native American mascots are used. Seriously disturbing.
What if there was a sports team called the Kikes? Would you believe a survey that told you that most Jews did not find it offensive? I wouldn’t. Don’t be fooled by bogus surveys conducted by colonizers. The Redskins name, as well as the use of a people as a mascot, is offensive.