Sunday, June 22, 2014

AZ's Slant on Sunday - Caught Red-Skinned

Leave it to me to write two posts in two months in regards to topics that annoy me: race and ethnicity. When you have money and you get the attention of the media, it's going to be a big deal, and it will turn into a nasty pus-filled pimple. And you don't wanna touch that, do you?

[DISCLAIMER: What I talk about in this post is not completely representative on how I see the Native American people. They are kind, honorable, and a strong group, and they have gone through absolute hell because of the descendants of many US citizens over several centuries. I am criticizing the way the media is handling this, as it is completely asinine, and which is why I am talking about it.]

Today, for AZ's Slant on Sunday, we're going to talk about something that has been shoved down our throats for the past week or so:

The Washington (censored)
Ugh. Really?
Washington (censored)
RED-SKINned potatoes.

As you can see, this has been a hot topic for nearly two weeks. Back on June 10, I posted a video on The Sports Nut Blogs' Facebook page, showing an advertisement that was going to be shown in numerous major media markets during Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

If you haven't watched it, here it is:

So the story goes, this advertisement is several years in the making. The group in charge of this advertisement had raised enough money over the course of time, and made their mark in what they thought about the "Redskins" name. To be frank, this controversy originally came to a head and was modernized after Super Bowl XXVI in 1991 when the team had won the Super Bowl. Numerous attempts have occurred since then to cancel the trademark, stating that the term "Redskin" was "disparaging to the Native American people." The attempts over the course of twenty years had failed, but on June 18, a push to cancel the trademark was successful, and now we've got a big 'ole pot of beef stew in our hands. Whether this advertisement was a massive catalyst to this cancellation is uncertain, we can agree that this is something that we never thought we'd have to deal with in our generation.

This controversy is all over the airwaves and the news stations. In fact, [this is my favorite part] an MSNBC news anchor went that extra mile in making this name taboo. WARNING: This video might make you make this face:
My face looked like this for 20 minutes.

Now, we've had issues with Native American imagery in the past. For nearly forty years, high school and college teams have had to change their mascots and team names due to "derogatory imagery." Several of them had names like "Indians" or "Redmen," and they have had to be changed. Even professional teams like the NBA's Golden State Warriors had to do away with their original mascot, and now MLB's Atlanta Braves are only represented by a tomahawk in their logo. As you can see, however, they were able to keep the names. The one exception amid all of this is the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks team. Despite their mascot not being a Native American--it's an actual black hawk named "Tommy Hawk"--they're still the most prominent team to have a Native American face on their team logos and merchandise. However, this has something to do with symbolism in founder Frederic McLaughlin's former military unit being known as the "Blackhawks," so it hasn't been dealt with in great force.

There are other Native American clashes in sports that are ongoing; this one we're making note of right now just happens to be bigger and more blown-out than the others. The most obvious outside of the Redskins controversy is MLB's Cleveland Indians. Anyone who watches baseball knows who Chief Wahoo is. In fact, the film Major League made sure you knew the team and everything to do with them. Anyway, if you're outside of that area, you've noticed that the franchise has been slowly phasing out the appearance of Chief Wahoo on player gear and merchandise, having a capital "C" on their hats instead of the Chief. While he isn't gone completely, he's pretty much on his way out in lieu of the idea that he's a shade of red and he is "deemed offensive" by Native Americans.

Needless to say, this is that one big pink elephant in the room that people have accepted over generations, but now we've realized that said elephant is dead and it's starting to stink. Growing up, I've accepted what the team names are and what they represent. I never judged it, and I never thought that hurtful depictions existed. Call it naivety or whatever you want, but I suppose that it was something I was born into and saw it as something fictional and not descriptive of what the teams represented. On the other hand, I'm not them, and I can't say that I know what they think of it. It obviously bothers them, and there are people out there that don't see what the big deal is.

However, I can see where they are coming from with how they are offended. Most team representations [about 80-85%] and mascots are animals. So basically, being represented in the form of mascots (cartoon or not) makes them look like they themselves are animals--savages, if you will. This, I get. I also suppose that it may be annoying to be an elder of Native American descent and having to see people try to "resemble" you for sport.

But what I don't get is why this is a mainstream issue right now.

Like I mentioned above, the Indians' logo is slowly changing over without a massive appearance in the news, but when it's America's new sport, the NFL, everyone goes insane and reaches for their opinion in their head. For Pete's sakes, Washington's cheering section is led by men dressed like pigs. Not Native American derivatives, but PIGS. This situation could be so much worse, and this name and logo has existed since 1932. What is so different about this now?! Nothing has changed! Because we raised a little money, we can make another push? Don't get me wrong, I am all for unity and respect, but for the love of God, make that distinction between reality and fiction! What, are we going to get PETA involved now, because the usage of animals isn't fair to them because they have no say? We can't have the Chicago Cubs because not only are they denoted as baby animals, but their kind is being hunted down and their habitats are being destroyed more and more every single day? C'MON! We're splitting hairs now! We're making mountains out of molehills! No group of men can move mountains, either!

This is a case of something that has been around for decades and has been accepted by scores of people, and we're just delving into how this thing is "disparaging." I understand that the Native Americans still had problems with having a say about 80 years ago, but when the team is well-kept and not showing any hate toward the Native American people, why is there a push to cancel it? If anything, the Native Americans are an honorable group and have left a gigantic legacy on this land. Grant it, we American people are wrecking a lot of what we invaded upon, but that's beside the point. If there is going to be a change, make a civilized change; don't get the media's push on it, it's going to make things look even messier and more annoying than ever before. Now, I may be considered media, but I don't have an agenda to go by, huzzah! There are "polls" that had large percentages of people stating that they didn't see a problem with the logo, but there are a lot of sensitive groups out there, and if we're all going to be a happy nation, we need to listen to everybody. Again, just don't make it a bigger deal than it should be. The Indians' thing isn't...why should this?

What do you think of the removal of the trademark? Do you agree with what has been done? Why?


I bet some of you wanted me to explode on a video about this, but no. That would have been too much effort on my part. I vented enough frustration here.