Hi. I’m Mike, and my family heavily identifies Injun, Choctaw in particular. It has been family legend that both my father’s mother’s parents were full blood, and we have found them in the Dawes Rolls. My father is appx half, as we only have mere suspicion that his father had that mysterious percentage of “some” blood making my father some mystery percentage over half, and I am perhaps therefore a pinch over a quarter. (“blah blah indian princess”). My father is a singer and drummer for a local Order of the Arrow Lodge dance team and co-founder of a local annual Pow Wow fundraiser for city charities, and my brother has placed in national competitions for fancy dance. I identify heavily with the culture, although I have no particular merits toward the community other than looking the part — people often come to me asking if I come from such stock. I know enough that horrible mic setups with way-too-loud speakers, frybread, vendors, and kids with long straight black locks are essential elements to your standard pow wow. I am personally more of a gourd dance type.
I also know that you need to shut your pie hole about being offended by the Redskins or people who wear Indian costumes on Halloween. The eagle of sense needs to land on your head and drop a massive load of semi-digested skunk over your head so that people for miles will know who to avoid.
What you say you’re offended by, is your imagination, and nothing else.
When you see something flying in the sky in the distance, you might not be able to tell whether it is a plane. The lack of engine noise and waving pattern might indicate it’s a bird. As it sails nearer, you might be able to tell whether it is a hawk or a buzzard, and whether the heat of the day might be affecting your sight it might actually be much nearer than you thought and merely appeared distant, when instead it is just an ordinary parking lot crow that at first you thought might be aircraft.
The view that Indian costumes or the Redskins name is offensive, is only the imagination and lacks any wisdom or knowledge about the world as it genuinely exists. You are inventing a false, imaginary world in which your nonsensical offense actually has merit, and what you’re actually offended over is, in fact, utter poppycock.
If a woman is being raped and cries out NO, are you at liberty to interpret that as yes? No, you are not. In the SAME WAY, if someone uses the phrase Redskin to refer to a football team, or don a Halloween costume for a festival, are they offensive? You can’t possibly even know unless you genuinely investigate whether that is the case. Being offended at falsity, is like me saying Bananas are disgusting, and you being offended that I said Blueberries were disgusting. I had said nothing of the kind, and you leapt to a sense of offense over your own failure to research the false impression your senselessness created.
If the person has no intent to offend by wearing the costume or using the Redskin name, then you have no basis for being offended. You are a rapist of their message, turning their NO into a YES in your own imagination, and becoming angry for what you have invented on their behalf, lacking any proof whatsoever.
You are looking at them from the distance trying to see whether they are a plane, and then being offended because you think the people in that plane might hate you without looking to see whether it may have even been an eagle come to land on your rooftop. You wouldn’t know if it did, because you’ve already made up your mind to be offended and refuse to budge despite overwhelming evidence to the distinct contrary.
You are making things up in your mind and then believing it. You are creating a false witness against someone. If you find out they meant no distaste, then your distaste in response is of your own invention. They are not consenting parties, to your intent to take away their innocence by interjecting your own interpretation into their blamelessness. You are a liar and you believe your own lies.
CNN, during the Redskins uproar of recent, aired a clip of some foolish man hoisting the metaphorical banner of offense for the use of Redskin using a dictionary definition as proof it was offensive — at that is utter hogwash. A dictionary is descriptive, not prescriptive, and a dictionary is a tool for assisting the research of someone who encounters an unfamiliar word and wishes to know how it has been used previously as an AID to understanding what the user of the word MIGHT have meant. The dictionary does not prescribe what users of words “must therefore have meant” or “erroneously used” in any fashion, the speaker of the words does is the sole interpreter of what the word meant and in the specific context of offensive or otherwise. In the absence of asking whether the speaker intended to be offensive, one might consult a dictionary to observe what most people have been recorded to have meant by it, but even that is no basis for becoming offended. You are making yourselves to be fools of among the highest order by using the dictionary as your proof. If you have no way to know by asking the person whether they intended offense, you are inventing a scenario in which your offense has merit and then believing it.
Some say the Irish are not offended by leprechauns in the media. Because leprechauns aren’t real people, you say? Neither is the Disney version of Pocahontas. It’s fiction. It is not claiming to be true. You’re offended about fiction, and yet insist to live in a fictional world based on fictional offenses.
Perpetuating a harmful stereotype, you say? YOU ARE INVENTING A STEREOTYPE OF OTHERS TO BE OFFENDED ABOUT. Right out of your own duff, you are pulling the idea that someone can be accidentally offensive, as if that were even possible. You are inventing a caricature of a person who needs to be more sensitive to the cries of Indians who can’t tell a tipi from a toothbrush.
I went to Kenya on a church mission trip in March of 2008, shortly after their major post-election violence uproar. We visited the slums of Nairobi, which bordered the big city by a matter of a few yards’ walk. The slums of Korogocho are actually built upon the city’s landfill, and the poverty is fairly dire for many there. Many of the residents however, refused to believe they could just walk into the city and make something of themselves, and stayed in poverty because their father lived that way. “Our ancestors drank from this stank nasty pond, and so will we” is the sentiment I gathered from many attitudes. But, we also met a lot of people who lived and worked in the cities, and came back to the slums to minister with their wealth to those that needed it.
I can’t tell you what your family’s legends are, but let me ask you: would your grandfather’s grandfathers be pleased with their descendants sitting around FEELING marginalized despite any evidence to support it, and give you their blessing in confidence, for a people interested in the truth? Get out of your slum, old man, and walk into the city. Visit the city. There are no white men who hate you. The people using the Redskin name CHEER and PROMOTE a cartoon symbol that has NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU. You’re just making stuff up to support your own self-conceived stereotype that other people are perpetuating an false image, when in fact they’re cheering for a sports team. You are decrying the falsity of an image THEY OPENLY SAY IS FALSE.
Your ancestors will still be your ancestors regardless of whether they dance around in circles and pat their open mouths while singing incoherently. YOU reading this right now were not slaughtered by the disease of colonialism, but for some reason you have a chip on your shoulder against people who did not, themselves, marginalize your ancestors either. Instead, you have become your own poorly-perceived white oppressor by spewing a disease you’ve pulled right out of your own colonial bits, and inventing false crimes against people who you have never met. YOU are the instrument of perpetuation of a stereotype. You have grown intolerant of people who do not even possess the intolerance you accuse them of, and are your own enemy in the flesh.
Did the whites invent a false image of the Native Americans and seek to destroy them? Is this the example you wish to follow? You are mocking your ancestors by creating a false image of your brethren who share many of your own ancestors. You may have more ancestors than they do. Do you wish to disrespect those that you do share, by inventing an offensive story and then being offended as if it were true? How are you any better?