November 25, 2008

"'There is nothing to be served by dressing up as a racist stereotype.'"

"[Michelle] Raheja, an English professor at UC Riverside who specializes in Native American literature, said she met with [kindergarten] teachers and administrators in hopes that the district could hold a public forum to discuss alternatives that celebrate thankfulness without 'dehumanizing' her daughter's ancestry."

48 comments:

TosaGuy said...

Because denying kids some holiday fun for the sake of busybody adult political correctness is always a good idea.

Paddy O. said...

The racial stereotype that the Native Americans were extremely gracious and helpful, providing sustenance and teaching the new settlers how to survive?

Is this better than the new, constantly advertised by Native Americans, stereotype of encouraging people to gamble their money away?

I thought Thanksgiving was among the most humanizing celebrations. So, now am I supposed to banish the positive perspective of Native Americans I got from my schooling? I'm really confused now.

prairie wind said...

Does the Jew/Nazi, slave/slaveowner analogy mean that the Pilgrims forced the native Americans to share the feast?

Synova said...

Yeah, right.

If it's not the costumes, it's going to be something else.

From the sound of the article, though, a "public forum" might not have the results that Ms. Raheja would like it to have.

Synova said...

Paddy O. has the heart of it though...

It's really difficult to find anyway at all to portray the traditional "Thanksgiving Story" as anything other than complimentary to Native Americans. Clearly, in the *traditional* version of the story, the Indians were capable and the pilgrims sort of inept, and they would have starved and died without the help of the Indians.

I honestly don't know what people want... the kids dressing up as pilgrims are dressing up funny, *too*.

Superdad said...

I don't get it the American Indians are the good guys in this story.

Bissage said...

Like a bloodthirsty savage, Professor Raheja would creep through the woods in the dead of night to cut the throat of a long-standing tradition that promotes empathy for the Native American cause.

Paddy O. said...

Maybe we can use this moment of change to celebrate someone other than the patriarchal Pilgrims, with their need for help and all.

Someone feminists can rally behind too. Someone like Anne Hutchinson maybe.

That would be good for women and give a much different picture of Native Americans than Thanksgiving celebrates. Everyone wins!

former law student said...

I agree with the professor -- I'm constantly ashamed that my people are always portrayed with belt buckles on their hats. Though the Mayflower passengers were no farmers, they did not wear their belt buckles on their hats!!!

I also support the move by outraged Catholics to change the name of the San Diego Padres to the San Diego Panthers. Father Serra and his colleagues never wasted their time hitting a ball with a stick -- golf was still years in the future. And don't get me started on the Fighting Irish stereotype -- a drunken green leprechaun is no way to depict the magnificent Celts.

Lem said...

Sports you can use.

The Redskinds are knitting tears into blankets after getting smoked by nearly every team in the league.

The Atlanta Braves are in rebuilding mode after getting all chopped up last season.

And the Cleveland Indians are trying to decide whether to gamble away the bank on some prospects.

Trooper York said...

Hey I tried to use that defense when I beat the shit out of that midget dressed like a leprechaun on St Patrick’s Day at the Quiet Man in 1986 when stuck his head up Lucy Kelly’s dress because he wanted to kiss the blarney stone.

The demeaning stereotype thing didn't stop me from getting a desk appearance ticket then either.

Henry said...

In the version I heard as a kid, Squanto showed the pilgrims how to use dead fish as fertilizer.

Later, I learned that using dead fish as fertilizer was common in medieval europe.

I was served a compost stereotype.

MadisonMan said...

It's always fun 'til the parents get involved.

Yachira said...

I turn your attention to this comment.

Henry said...

Non-racist stereotype dress-up patterns here (scroll down and click on photo gallery).

Richard Fagin said...

"I'm sure you can appreciate the inappropriateness of asking children to dress up like slaves (and kind slave masters), or Jews (and friendly Nazis), or members of any other racial minority group who has struggled in our nation's history."

No I can't appreciate that at all because it's false. To compare an even a somewhat inaccurate representation of what Native Americans were believed to have chosen to wear with what was imposed by brute force on other unwilling groups of people is preposterous.

It's not inappropriate because it at least attempts to be historically accurate and does so in a manner not intended to be insulting; it only offends her sense of victimhood.

What this woman seems to want is no depiction whatsoever of any group that supposedly "struggled in our nation's history."

And hint you, screwball woman, Nazis and Jews with yellow stars on their prison garb have nothing to do with our nation's history, other than the fact that we destroyed the former with the result that some of the latter survived. Remind me to put on my yellow star before I go pluck a few feathers out of screwball's headdress.

As one wag put it in the Wall St. Journal the other day, a nation that compels itself to refrain from saying Merry Christmas is clearly able to destroy its owwn ecomony.

paul a'barge said...

Well, then isn't that special.

Apparently now Satan has decided to inhabit the body of a Native American out in California.

One supposes that she enjoys split pea soup.

MadisonMan said...

yachira, you need to put a c after the # sign in the url for that to work.

rhhardin said...

Indians are always joke material.

Kinky Friedman, thinking in the Native American spiritual mode, ```You can't own land, you can't own a waterfall, you can't own a dog or a horse, you can only own a casino.''

An ancient Imus transcripton avoiding and then slipping into this automatic joke material starting from Native American spirituality.

dbp said...

Like this?

Kirby Olson said...

It's always an English professor.

David said...

The article says:

"Among the costume supporters, there is a vein of suspicion that casts Raheja and others opposed to the costumes as agenda-driven elitists. Of the handful of others who spoke with Raheja against the costumes at the board meeting, one teaches at the University of Redlands, one is an instructor at Riverside Community College, and one is a former Pitzer College professor."

If you teach Kindergarden, or "teach" at Redlands (apparently not a professor, because professors usually will exhibit their rank clearly) or you "instruct" at Riverside Community College, do you become a member of an elite?

Perhaps in your own mind, you do. Which may be why you feel it necessary to make a big issue of a kindergarden tradition.

Most "elitism" is perpetrated by wannabe members of an elite, not actual elites.

Actual members of an elite tend to be rather quiet about it.

froggyprager said...

my kids made turkey hats and they looked cute. works for me.

Charity said...

I there anything - anything?? - that liberals do not want to take the fun out of?

PatCA said...

This is the event I referred to yesterday as "never too early to instill white guilt."

Folks, this is accepted wisdom on state campuses. These are the people teaching our future generations.

PatCA said...

Oh, note the picture. To be accurate, shouldn't we banish young Vince Tran from participating at all? After all, there were no ASians in the colonies at that time, were they?

Ron said...

I'll bet this profs Native American name translates to 'colostomy bag that walks like a human.'

jdeeripper said...

white men's diseases

I'm offended by this racist speech!

Like these wagon burners are any better. How many Indians are in the NBA?

All White men should celebrate Thanksgiving by siting in front of the TV while some woman, doesn't have to be a squaw, brings him his food while she is dressed as an Indian Princess.

Deal with that Princess Michelle Raheja.

The Drill SGT said...

What this woman seems to want is no depiction whatsoever of any group that supposedly "struggled in our nation's history."

I think more accurately, she and all the other racial guilt extorting con artists want is to control the message. They want to be the one in charge of the depictions.

any non-trademarked depiction, used without appropriate licensing, is racist.

Henry said...

"Its always a good thing to think about, critically, how we teach kids, even from very young ages, the message we want them to learn, and the respect for the diversity of the American experiences," said Jennifer Tilton, an assistant professor of race and ethnic studies at the University of Redlands and a Claremont parent who opposes the costumes.

I believe the message that the kids will learn from this episode is that adults are idiots.

A useful message!

Trooper York said...

Hey I am having the kids dress up as native americans this year. They are wearing those little aprons with the change thingies in them so the people at the house can play the slot machines without having to go to the ATM. Just like they have at Foxwoods or the Mohegan Sun.

Host with the Most said...

Hey, I spent my first year of college at Riverside Community College (in the 70's)and there were, well . . .

There was an assistant professor of anthropology, Dr. Jackson, a black man who felt that America was completely founded and still so ingrained in racism that there will never be a black man elected President of the United States. We heard about America's racist heritage about 25% of the class time in that anthropology class.

I did get an A in the class as I recall. The teacher liked me.

I guess political correctness has always been around.

Host with the Most said...

From the same article:

Raheja is "using those children as a political platform for herself and her ideas," Constance Garabedian said as her 5-year-old Mountain View kindergartner happily practiced a song about Native Americans in the background. "I'm not a professor and I'm not a historian, but I can put the dots together."

Richard Fagin said...

Drill SGT, I stand corrected.

Dreamer said...

Until you've been on the receiving end of a demeaning stereotype, maybe you should consider shutting the f--- up. All of the comments I've read seem to be coming from a privileged position--the position of 'I get to decide what the story is--and if it's flattering or demeaning.' You need to start listening people--or when the minority becomes the majority in 25 years or so, you'll find yourselves whining about the stereotypes being applied to YOU.

Revenant said...

Until you've been on the receiving end of a demeaning stereotype, maybe you should consider shutting the f--- up.

Well, I'm an atheist; I'm on the receiving end of demeaning stereotypes all the time. Plus, unlike blacks, Hispanics and "native Americans" we're still viewed negatively by most of the American people.

So I guess by your standards I'm well within my rights to tell the complainers within those groups to stop being such pussies. If you let your ancestors' experiences define your future you're never going anywhere in life.

Freeman Hunt said...

Someone explain to me how the feathers and fringes are a racist stereotype given this. Native Americans really did wear that stuff, and it was their own dress, not something imposed on them. I recently went to a powwow. The participants were wearing the same kind of thing. Were they participating in racist stereotypes of themselves?

Freeman Hunt said...

So to the PC crowd, it would be better to forget that Native Americans were around in colonial times? Better to just forget all about them because it's all just too sad? Stupid.

TMink said...

Dreamer wrote: "Until you've been on the receiving end of a demeaning stereotype, maybe you should consider shutting the f--- up."

Wow, nobody ever talked to me like that. Wait, I was just on the receiving end of a demeaning stereotype! Thanks Dreamer!

Now you shut the frack up, you smelly hippie.

Trey

PatCA said...

Sad to say, Dreamer, we all have been subject to demeaning stereotypes. I sob silently every time I hear "paddy wagon."

Maybe we need to stop thinking of ourselves as victims, develop a sense of humor, and get on with life. If Colin Powell can still serve his country after being refused a hotel room on his wedding night, can't we just suck the F up?

Time for Ann to post her Mom's WAVE booklet again, urging everyone to act as though you are someone to be respected.

Superdad said...

"If you let your ancestors' experiences define your future you're never going anywhere in life."

Well said! And Dreamer, no one is “deciding” what the story is – it just is what it is. It is a great story about how the American Indians helped the settlers figure out how to live in this new land. What the heck is bad about that story? Do you not see how stupid this women’s complaint is?

“Damn that school they are teaching kids that people of different backgrounds can come together and live in peace (at least for a while). How dare they not teach my daughter that she is a victim, that she has been wronged and that the world owes her. I mean how can we progress as a society if people are taught exactly why and how they have been harmed," said the successful college professor.

Ern said...

or when the minority becomes the majority in 25 years or so, you'll find yourselves whining about the stereotypes being applied to YOU.

Stereotypes have been applied to people like me for a long time, well before any minority became "the majority". I'm white, so the stereotype is that a racist. My surname is Polish, so the stereotype is that I'm stupid. I develop software, so the stereotype is that I'm a nerd. I'm politically conservative, so one stereotypes is that I'm intolerant. I live in California, so the stereotype is that I'm wacky.

Only the stereotype about being a nerd is true.

Beth said...

Don't tell her about the Mardi Gras Indians.

Synova said...

Maybe Dreamer could explain to us what is demeaning about the stereotype?

Yes, we all know what *happened* later on... but no-one at the first Thanksgiving had any notion, not on either side.

jdeeripper said...

Dreamer said...Until you've been on the receiving end of a demeaning stereotype, maybe you should consider shutting the f--- up.

Wake up, it's not like these White people are playing Indian by getting drunk and rolling around unwashed in deerskin. Or burning homes and carrying off the children.

All of the comments I've read seem to be coming from a privileged position--the position of 'I get to decide what the story is--and if it's flattering or demeaning.'

You know you're right. After seeing this hateful racism and Eurocentric, hegemonic White normative gaze I now realize there is nothing "cute" about this cultural appropriation.

You need to start listening people--or when the minority becomes the majority in 25 years or so,

The White Devils are already a racial minority in California where Sacjawhiner made her complaint.

And I think the days of an American Indian majority in the North America are long gone.

you'll find yourselves whining about the stereotypes being applied to YOU.

I used to be emotionally traumatized by this site. Then I leaned it was about Other White people, the better ones.

Now I'm OK about it.

Cedarford said...

From the woman's abstract in a journal, she seems to be about protest over other cultures "stealing" "appropriating without permission" from Indians for commercialization or entertainment (as in the kids case).

Raheja, Michelle.
Selling the Indian: Commercializing and Appropriating American Indian Cultures (review)
Studies in American Indian Literatures - Volume 16, Number 2, Summer 2004, pp. 85-87

University of Nebraska Press

Michelle Raheja - Selling the Indian: Commercializing & Appropriating American Indian Cultures (review) - Studies in American Indian Literatures 16:2 Studies in American Indian Literatures 16.2 (2004) 85-87 Carter Jones Meyer and Diana Royer, eds. Selling the Indian: Commercializing & Appropriating American Indian Cultures. Tucson: U of Arizona P, 2001. xix + 279 pp. From grocery store dairy sections carrying Land O'Lakes butter to toy store shelves stocked with Pocahontas and G.I. Joe Navajo Code Talker dolls, it is clear that Indian-themed merchandise sells well. In Selling the Indian: Commercializing & Appropriating American Indian Cultures, Carter Jones Meyer and Diana Royer have collected a series of essays treating the various ways Indian-produced arts, crafts, and performances "were commercialized and appropriated in the twentieth century" (xi). The book is divided into two sections, "Staging the Indian" and "Marketing the Indian," marking the difference between performances of...


I presume that Indians will start asking permission from whites and blacks and hispanics to "appropriate" their culture. No Indian kids on the Rez dressed in hip hop clothing or using "white attire" in school plays?

"Hispanic" is another thing, referring to an artifical race or ethnicity designed by two Jewish lawyers under Nixon when they set up the EEO and pioneered "affirmative action". (They also created "pacific islanders" in the AA game, and kept the "one touch of the tarbrush concept")

It is funny because the rules say only people born in America and somewhat in Canada and PR can say they are Native American, providing they are 1/32nd Indian..Meanwhile, a 100% native indian Guatemalan, full blooded Maya, is not a NA, but a hispanic. Made funnier still when a casino where the typical "Indian" is blue-eyed or what other tribes call a "Monigan" 90% or better non-Indian, employs "hispanic" Guatemalans to clean their casino toilets and change hotel linens.

The average Chollo out Michelle's way in Cali is more NA than she is.

Henry said...

Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): "Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"
Holmes: "To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
Gregory: "The dog did nothing in the night-time."
Holmes: "That was the curious incident."


The more I think about this the more I come to the conclusion that Ms. Raheja's problem with the dress-up is that it doesn't dehumanize anybody.

Something must be done to the pilgrim costume to make clear the pilgrim's colonialist agenda.

The racist stereotype is the lack of a racist stereotype.

save_the_rustbelt said...

The parents should rent "Last of the Mohicans."

Russell Means, Wes Studi and a big bunch of Native Americans dressing up like stereotypical Indians for money.

Or go to a Native American pow wow, where hundred of Native Americans dress up like Indians and dance.

Makes the 5 year olds look small time.