Yes, the title was snarky. Far be it from me to be too serious about anything. I think people appreciate a little sarcasm-dipped humor from time to time. My favorite response to offensive material, when pointed out by a POC is…”Well I’m not racist.” In most cases, that is probably the case.
Now before you blow a gasket stop and think about this. People of color are constantly exposed to racist lined comments and materials. Constantly. It’s the whole colonial mindset thing, that POC, including Native Americans, are forced to endure. From appropriations of symbols for particular tribes, to the nasty mascot issues, to fake shaman and tribes started by someone who may or may not have had a great-great-great-great Grandmother who was Cherokee.
What started me thinking about this whole topic is this…
The man who painted this picture of the children claims it was done in complete innocence. In his mind maybe, he has fond memories of little children who he claims to represent as nonracial. He states that the color black is a mixture of all colors. He also proudly proclaims, “Some African American people have bought this poster.” Well hey, that’s great, guy! It is still problematic.
See, the thing I have noticed most often is the lack of education. America is marketed as a white country, from ads on TV to radio shows. People of color rarely have a face or a voice. Mainstream. I don’t mean Netflix and internet radio. We have established that the ones to look up to and admire are usually the Caucasians. I grew up in a biracial household. When I would ask why there were no Indians on TV, there was never a satisfactory answer. “There just aren’t.” Oh, ok? Well…Tonto? See my point? Even the commercial with the crying Indian elder for pollution was really a Jewish man dressed to look like an Indian.
We heard the idiot from Duck Dynasty say, “Black people were singing in the fields and happy. It didn’t bother them to be in a slave like situation.” Well correct me if I am wrong, but the man wasn’t even alive during “slavery.” So, shouldn’t that just scream something right in your face? No one questioned it as being the norm. Black people, poor and in possibly oppressive situations. It just was.
Another popular Native argument is that, “You Indians didn’t even care about mascots until lately and only because the liberal media made you care.” Um, no. Sorry folks but there have been a lot of Natives seriously offended by it for 50 plus years. We just didn’t gain as much ground or were not heard loud and clear until the advent of social media. Praise the Social Media Gods.
Now Starbucks has this whole “Race Together” campaign, and I have to laugh. What would happen if a Native tried to start the whole race conversation? Because, as little as some people know about the history of Black people, they know even LESS about Indians. That is just a fact. Massacres, land theft, Treaty Rights. The education just isn’t there. Some of the states that are “Tea Party” states are even moving to ban cultural studies because…’Murica. Right?
I think we do ourselves a huge disservice by continuing in 2015 the lack of education to our fellow human beings. I don’t think most white people are knowingly race based in their thinking. I think people just grow up NOT knowing, not being taught. Let’s face it, when you don’t HAVE to know how to not get pulled over, not get followed in the store by security, and not draw attention to yourself walking down the street, you just don’t have that innate fear to occupy your mind. When your Mother can send you to the grocery store at age 20 and not worry that you’ll get in trouble, or be profiled for just the color of your skin, it doesn’t affect you, so you don’t get it. Here I have a son who has Asperger’s. He’s mostly Native. His Dad was full blood and I am half. So what if he has a meltdown, autism style, in public? He can’t follow directions quickly enough for most people. What happens then? That is why it is so terribly important to educate yourself, regardless of color, on the way you view the world. I think having solid conversations about race is a good thing.