Hi, AndaleManito. Thanks for the link. On the whole I agree with the gist of the author’s point. All cultures borrow from others, everyday acculturation creates healthy diverse societies, I’m all in favour of that. But I think the author is conflating two different things: acculturation is not the same as promoting inaccurate (never mind offensive) stereotypes. Putting Reggae Reggae Sauce on your Shepard's Pie is not the same thing as branding jam with a golliwog.
As far as I understand it, there is no issue with Native culture being absorbed into other cultures. The problem is that the ‘American Indian culture’ that is being ‘borrowed’ and ‘absorbed’ by sports brands is, according to American Indians themselves, a distorted, crass and offensive stereotype – a stereotype that stems from a long and very brutal history of subjugation. This point is actually made in your link, when the author quotes the executive director of the National Congress of American Indians.
GQ wrote:Jacqueline Pata, executive director at The National Congress Of American Indians, told me, “The sports mascot and name issue [the name Washington Redskins is so resented she refuses to say it] creates a stereotype that doesn’t represent who we really are. It gets misused by fans.”
At the heart of it, I'd have to say I disagree with anyone telling someone else what they can or can't wear, providing what they're wearing isn't deliberately designed to cause cause fear/incite hatred in others (notice I don't include "offend" in this).
I 100% agree. I’ve already said the same, in reply to ‘ale shark’ in post #6828.
However, there is a vast difference between individuals making personal choices (often innocent and respectfully, sometimes ignorant and offensive) and organisations promoting a distorted stereotype of an ethnic minority for financial gain. The campaign against Indian Mascots is very much focused on the latter.
AndaleManito wrote:Regardless, I'd say you're wasting your time (or at least not going about this in the right way) getting into semantics on a rugby forum, where people like to talk about rugby, and not be told that their opinions on social matters are wrong. I for one see sport as an escape from politics and the like, but I admit that's not true for everyone. I don't disagree though that the point you raise is interesting and worthy of consideration
Fair enough. But if someone is not interested in a particular subject, or it offends their political sensitivities, there is always the option to just ignore the thread. I don’t believe we should censor ourselves to create political safe spaces, just because certain discussions make some people uncomfortable… and I’m the snowflake, apparently.
AndaleManito wrote:I would totally disagree with you here, and I think equating "cultural appropriation", which people might argue doesn't exist/isn't actually harming anyone/is a quintessential part of society, to homophobia, sexism and racism. Racism, sexism and homophobia are clearly definable and visible, no one would argue that they they aren't harmful, and in many countries there exist laws preventing their presence in the work place and at home. As far as I'm aware no one has ever been prosecuted in the UK for wearing a headdress, bindi or turban.
I’m not sure I understand what you are saying. Promoting a harmful racial stereotype of American Indians – an extant ethnic minority – is exactly the same as promoting a harmful stereotype of any other ethnic minority. One could quibble over how comparatively ‘racist’ each example is, but it makes no sense to say that racism (or sexism, or homophobia) in some way doesn’t apply to American Indians in the same way it does to any other group.
I can’t stress this enough… the issue is not acculturation. The issue is the promotion of what the NCAI and other advocacy groups describe as derogatory and harmful stereotypes of Native people.
Using your headdress, bindi or turban example (not that anyone was suggesting prosecuting people for wear such headgear)… Imagine if a sports team opted to brand themselves as, for example, The Harrogate Indians, complete with generic snake-charming foam mascot for half time entertainment. Imagine fans in mock turbans and choruses of bastardised Bollywood chants… you get the idea. People might argue it’s just a bit of fun, or that it honours these ‘poor but happy’ people, some might vociferous claim they don’t care or aren’t interested, but in this context I think most people can understand that such branding is problematic at best.
It is totally fine to eat curry and do yoga… though probably not at the same time.
AndaleManito wrote:I must ask you, do you honestly, really believe that the club Exeter Chiefs truly and discernibly hurts Native Americans through their name and branding?
Well, it’s not something I simply made up.
and other advocacy groups, as well as over 500 individual federally recognized tribes, representing over 5.2 million American Indian or Alaska Native people, have unequivocally stated their clear position against “derogatory and harmful stereotypes of Native people—including sports mascots—in media and popular culture
” and have called for “all reasonable individuals in decision-making positions to voluntarily change racist and dehumanizing mascots.
There is also a growing body of social science literature that shows the harmful effects of racial stereotyping, and the American Psychological Association
has called for the immediate retirement of all American Indian mascots, symbols and images. Other bodies have passed similar resolutions.
I doubt Exeter Rugby Club are at the forefront of their concerns, but don’t see any reason why Exeter would be exempt from “all reasonable individuals...”
AndaleManito wrote:By extension, if I wore a sombrero at a party, would that truly and discernibly hurt the Mexican nation and it's culture? Whilst it is an extrapolation, I believe it is a logical one.
Again, that is your personal choice, which I would argue is different to an organisation promoting an ethnic stereotype for financial gain, especially if it’s expressly against the wishes of the ethnic group in question.
AndaleManito wrote:Whilst I agree with some of your points, telling people that their opinion is wrong from the outset isn't really conductive to persuading them to change their views, and if anything just riles people up on what is for the most part a peaceful forum. It certainly makes it seem like you want to tell everyone what is right and what is wrong, rather than engage in healthy discussion.
I don’t think I’ve told anyone they are wrong, especially from the outset. If it’s come across that way, that was not my intention. I went out of my way in the OP to stress that I don’t believe there was any ill intent in Exeter’s branding and that I wasn’t calling anyone out. It seems to me that some people are overly defensive and have been unnecessarily combative. I haven’t exchanged any personal attacks and I’ve requested we stick to healthy discussion a couple of times. You, and others, were able to discuss the issue without getting 'riled up', I can’t be responsible for how other people choose to react.