I'm Not Your Disappearing Indian
Studies done by Dr. Stephanie Fryberg and resolutions by the American Psychology Association make clear that the negative effects on Native people of mascots and stereotypes are measurable and real. Fryberg found that even Native people who claimed to be okay with Native mascots experienced measurable lower self-esteem and spoke less positively about their future goals in their lives after being exposed to Native mascots. Meanwhile, those that appropriate our image experience the exact opposite effect.
Stereotypes of Native people in film, like the Indian Princess Tiger Lily, the guttural-voiced Chief (like Tiger Lily’s father in the Disney version), and the Warrior, also do this. And if we are not those things then what are we? The drunk, the Disappearing Indian, the squaw? When EONM (Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry) members challenge Redsk*ns fans online, the fans immediately resort to attacking us with these very same negative stereotypes, saying, “You’re a drunk and on welfare, you should be grateful we are honoring you.” There is no middle ground in their minds.
And what is the antidote to these stereotypes that fill the minds of so many of our fellow Americans, regardless of ethnic background? It is hearing and seeing Native people in the media and social media as we are today. We must not only challenge these images but also fill the void left once we get rid of them. And I do believe we will get rid of Native mascots. I also think that each time we remind our allies and reach out to journalists who forget about us in their coverage, things will get better there, too.
For instance, Jeff Yang (or @originalspin on Twitter) of the Wall Street Journal, who authored an article about the New Tiger Lily has been responsive to my request to include Native voices. He promptly began following us and when the story about the Colbert Report’s satire of Snyder’s foundation came out, he included us in his article. He is the only one so far, but if we keep it up more will follow. And our Asian American allies? An online activist organization representing Asian American and Pacific Islanders recenly tweeted at us that they want to help and are planning a campaign to take on Snyder and his foundation.
We really can talk to our allies and to the media. They will listen. But we have to speak up.
And "Stephen Colbert," the satirical character? He announced on Monday night that he will be closing his (fake) foundation and donating all the money to Dan Snyder’s OAF, because he didn’t hear [expletive] about that on Twitter. Let’s make sure he does. And hopefully, with our allies help our concerns and hashtags -- #Not4Sale Snyder! -- will be heard.
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