I just watched the segment on the Daily Show about the Washington Redskins name. A lot of it was very good, but there was something about it that just left a bad taste in my mouth.
For those who don't know, a group of eight Native American representatives (the show didn't say which tribes) were brought in to discuss why the name was offensive. There was also a group of four non-Natives (three white, one black) in favor of keeping the name. The non-Natives were not told that there was going to be a discussion/debate between them and the Native American representatives before entering the show, and reported that they "felt threatened" when the group of Native representatives entered the room to argue with them. The interview actually had to be conducted in two parts because the non-Natives were so distressed by the surprise entrance that they all left the room.
This has been cited dozens of times in comments and articles basically as "proof that white people/non Natives are being really racist and only feel bad about it when they have to defend their racism in front of those it effects."
I'm not here to discuss the offensiveness of the Washington team's name, but here are several things I've noticed about the debate:
- Twice as many Native American representatives non-natives in the debate, therefore creating a 2:1 debate ratio.
- Native Americans all professionally groomed and dressed in formal business attire except for one (t-shirt underneath a suitjacket). Non-natives wearing casual daily clothing, everyday hair and makeup.
- Interview with non-natives kept at lighthearted tone
What the viewers were expected to see, through filming and context, was "a bunch of racist whiteys suddenly realizing that what they're saying actually hurts feelings and getting scared." And yes, that did happen -- to an extent.
But here's what happens when you remove race:
People talking about why they like a team name, hanging out as if they're sitting in their own living room. Suddenly twice as many people, serious-faced, all dressed to the nines, groomed like they're about to appear in court, flood into the room and tell the unsuspecting loungers that they're about to debate on television.
Gee, I wonder why the non-natives might have been so scared they left the room?
I'm all for equality, but doesn't anyone find it embarrassing when popular bloggers or TV networks use scare tactics like this to prove a point? Especially when that point already has a lot of merit and doesn't need to be pumped up to this level!