Photo courtesy of Migizi Pensoneau The 1491s with Jason Jones of “The Daily Show.” Editor’s note: Last night “The Daily Show” aired a controversial segment…
devices of power and privilege
“The next morning, football Sunday, the three of us went to FedEx Field as part of the show. “The Daily Show” taped us wandering around the “Redskins Nation” tailgate, though that never made it on air. I, rather naively, thought maybe we’d be able use our presence at the tailgate as a way to showcase our humanity, and let the Washington Team know that there are Native Americans out there who are among them—real people not relegated to the eternal myth of history. Maybe we’d change a mind or two. Or, at least, maybe some ignorant hilarity could be caught on camera. It was worth a try, so with a camera crew following us, one little, two little and a third big Indian struck out into FedEx Field’s Redskin Nation tailgate.
That did not go as I’d hoped.
There were points during that hour-long experience where I actually was afraid for my life. I have never been so blatantly threatened, mocked or jeered. It was so intense, so full of vitriol that none of the footage ended up being used in the segment. I’m a big dude—6’1”, and a lotta meat on the bones. But a blonde little wisp of a girl completely freaked me out as I waited in line for the bathroom. “Is that shirt supposed to be funny?” she asked motioning to my satirical “Caucasians” T-shirt. And then she said, “I’ll fucking cut you.” Actually, she didn’t scare me so much as the wannabe linebackers standing behind her who looked like they wanted to make good on her threat.
On one level, I get it. I’m walking around with an ironic T-shirt on, being a Native in the middle of FedEx Field with a camera crew from “The Daily Show” nearby. But amid the jeers, mocking and threats, did I cry, and accuse them of ambush? No, because I knew what I was getting myself into. It’s “The Daily Show.” I know the format. More than that though, I didn’t back down or break down because I knew in my heart and conscience I was doing the right thing, as silly as the method may have been.
I think back to the tailgate: the man blowing cigar smoke in my face, the man who mockingly yelled, “Thanks for letting us use your name!”, the group who yelled at us to “go the fuck home,” the little waif who threatened to cut me, the dude who blew the train horn on his truck as I walked by the hood. I think of all of that, and I think back to O’Dell crying and trying desperately to get out of the room full of calm Natives. I thought she was crying because she was caught unawares and was afraid. But I realized that was her defense mechanism, and that by overly dramatizing her experience, she continued to trivialize ours. It was privilege in action. And as I realized these things, something else became incredibly clear: She knew she was wrong.”
Don’t read the comments.
I normally wouldn’t do something like this, but given the dismissive and disrespectful response we’ve received from the people responsible for producing and proliferating this offensive image for daring to speak out, I’m coming to you all for help.
The offensive image above was plastered across the halls of my law school and put on the internet as the cover photo as a joke to advertise a party. Given this nation’s history of using black women as props, mascots, and metaphors, women of all colors and those standing in solidarity with us were offended by this. Reasoned replies on the Facebook event explaining that the photo was offensive were deleted. Some who had their comments deleted were ignored. Others were sent dismissive and disrespectful responses explaining that the photo is “camp,” a joke, and bemoaned the fact that “we lost Joan Rivers too soon” because perhaps then we’d understand why this is apparently funny.
Because it was clear that honest and open critique would be silenced and ignored, myself and three other black queer/female students wrote an open letter outlining why the above image is racist and sexist and asking for an apology. Since posting the open letter, the people responsible for the image have not apologized, but have put up one response essentially reprimanding all of us who have voiced our opinions for daring to speak out in a way, tone, and forum of which they do not approve. Their response mischaracterized our critiques, were indicative of entitled and privileged thought, and were emblematic of the very issue our letter was meant to highlight and explain.
It is clear that those responsible for this image and for making the halls of my law school a hostile and alienating space will not apologize for or acknowledge their behavior until they are made to see that what they have done is offensive and not okay.
Please help by reading the open letter, sharing it, and reblogging this post to help us make clear that this type of mascot-ing and mocking of women of color will not be tolerated.
I leave you with an excerpt from our letter:
…This is not just racist or sexist in a theoretical, these-kids-can’t-take-a-joke sense. These images, when controlled by the wrong people (here, racially unconscious white men) are harmful to those of us, particularly to black women, who enter the halls of Berkeley Law and other law schools fighting a nearly insurmountable presumption that we do not belong, lack merit, and are ignorant and incompetent. Now, images of bodies like ours and dance forms which first found life in the minds of our sisters, for which we have been defamed, ridiculed, called outside of our names, and punished for performing and merely being associated with, have been stolen, bastardized, and reduced to jokes and posted for the consumption of the privileged white heterosexual men walking the halls of an elite, top-ten law school. These are institutions which have been historically hostile to us, but which we (perhaps naively) hoped could be a site of our overcoming. It hurts. It is a slap in the face–a reminder that our presence is only desired in the symbolic form of props, mascots, and metaphors.
On June 3rd, 2014, the Serrano family was having difficulty with a young female family member who suffers from a mental illness and depression. Yanira Serrano-Garcia, 18, had apparently gone off of her medication and became agitated and hard to control.
“[Yanira] wanted to be normal. She wanted to stop taking her medication, and I get it. Sometimes when my feet hurt I just want to be normal. I don’t want to take pills. I get her…all we want is justice,” said a friend of Yanira’s during a community march.
“Sadly, they mistook her for something she didn’t do, and a cop decided to get his gun out when he could have gotten out his taser, his pepper spray,” she said.
“She has special needs and we just want answers,” said Yanira’s brother, Tiny Serrano. “Who are we supposed to call now when we need help when who is supposed to help us is killing our kids?”
I feel like I reblog this kind of stuff every single day… Same story, different names. And police always use the same fucking excuses because they’re trained in how to loophole the law.
girl with butter knife in public vs. trained police officer
i am ENRAGED holy SHIT
i hate to go there with subjects that aren’t being talked about by others because i suspect people will view it as me pulling some type of card but honestly imagine all the “stop romanticizing jesse pinkman’s misogyny he is a piece of shit” posts you’d see reblogged enthusiastically if jesse were black or hispanic and had all the same lines
but he’s white and sexy so not only does misogyny get a pass (even when real-life aaron paul embraces it out of character) but it’s widely portrayed as a cute, charming, and harmless joke
i’m trying to rack my brain to remember if i’ve ever seen any critical discussion of it on my dash and i’m coming up blank
BREAKING: Here’s the tweet that could lead to a new grand jury in Ferguson, MO.
#Ferguson: @shaunking took screenshot of tweeter @thesusannichols who claims to know juror on #MikeBrown #DarrenWilson grand jury & appears to be receiving leaked information. King says that within seconds of posting this, her friends told her to delete it & she did but not before it was screenshotted. She has since deleted her entire account but King says they checked & she is indeed a #STL resident w/ years’ worth of tweets from there. “If true, her tweet not only reveals a leak in the grand jury, but gives us an ugly glimpse into how things have gone so far. This person who posted it on twitter & her contact on the grand jury must be fully & completely investigated & removed if it’s true.”-@shaunking
Y’all better reblog the fuck outta this post it on facebook, twitter, IG, myspace, friendster, everything get this information out
I did the Dr. Pepper scholarship giveaway because I’m deathly afraid of not finishing college in four years and having to take out a loan in order to continue studying, so please vote for me!