I’ve kinda stayed away from this topic, but I want to give a few thoughts. It’s been interesting to watch as this topic has gained more steam, and it’s been encouraging to see more Natives get interested in it.
That’s a positive step.
But what’s been discouraging is the reliance that some of our people have on the non-Native liberal champions of the Redskins discussion. Who cares? The Natives who want this discussion to happen should care 100% more about what Native people think about the Redskins, and whether the name is offensive, than what non-Natives think about the Redskins. I don’t know why the champions of this cause haven’t thought about bringing this discussion to us, to the people who are the actual stakeholder in this discussion. Natives.
ALL Natives, not just a few.
Think about it: why hasn’t there been any polling, that originated from Natives, about if the Redskins mascot/name is offensive to you? Native people are smart enough and capable to make our own decisions without someone determining for us. NOBODY—whether they are pro-Redskins or anti-Redskins—should be speaking for you and saying what is offensive to you.
We are the stakeholders—so I couldn't care less if Bob Costas thinks it’s offensive. I couldn't care less if Keith Olbermann or Barack Obama or any non-Native thinks it’s offensive. I also couldn't care less if Rick Reilly DOESN’T think it’s offensive or Dan Snyder doesn’t think that it’s offensive. I care what Junior, in Laguna Pueblo, thinks. I care what Thomasina, in Crow Agency, thinks. I care what Chuckie, on the Suquamish Reservation, thinks. I care what Dustin, on the Blackfeet Reservation, thinks. I care what Native people think—that should be where we start. I don’t want to assume that I know what my people think—that’s what white people have done historically. That’s a very patriarchal, white thing to do.
I see a few Natives get excited on social media—“Yay, Bob Costas agrees with us”—while not taking the time/caring enough to find out what our own people actually think.
I get sick of us—Native people—valuing the opinion of non-Natives more than we value the opinions of our own people. That’s internalized racism against ourselves.
I don’t think anybody should be speaking for us. Forget these non-Natives having an opinion on what should be an INTERNAL DISCUSSION. This is like outsiders telling Black folks that the word “nigger” should be offensive to them—that’s a discussion that we should have within our communities before other people start jumping to conclusions. Therefore, to those Natives that want to change the name, I suggest you ask Native people first (much respect to the Oneida Nation for actually doing some checking to see how our people felt first—that’s exactly what should happen). I have my own thoughts and opinions on the matter, and I’ll share those very soon, but I want to know what our people think first.
So I’m going to practice what I preach—Please respond to Gyasi.firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter to @BigIndianGyasi—please write 1) which tribe you come from, and 2) what your thoughts are. Please forward and repost this post—I will post my results. I want to hear what Native people actually think on this topic—that is where this discussion should have actually started:
Is the Redskins mascot/logo offensive to you? Would you like the team to change the team name?
Thank you. Hunyah.
Blackfeet Nation Enrolled/Suquamish Nation Immersed
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