Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Are Redskins Ashamed of Their Complexion?

I'm attempting to understand why some of the descendants of the people Christopher Columbus called "Indians" say they are ashamed to be called "redskins".

The only explanation I can think of is they are ashamed that they are not white or perhaps they are simply ashamed of their heritage.

In the 1950's many black Americans were ashamed of their color. They tried to bleach their skin and straighten their hair to look more like white people.   In the early sixties someone discovered a statement abolitionist John Sweat Rock had made a century earlier.  Rock said, "black is beautiful".   Many black Americans recognized that Rock was correct.  

Black is just as beautiful as white and so is red.   Many white Americans think the complexion of  the Navajo, Cherokee etc. is so much better than theirs  that they are willing to bake themselves in the sun for hours to get their complexion the same color the Navajo and Cherokee are born with.  So why would those who are born with such a desirable complexion be ashamed?

Over 200 years ago leaders of the Piankeshaw, Osage, Santee Sioux and Meskwaki nations referred to themselves as "redskins".   The great Shawnee nation leader Tecumseh  in his speech to the Osage nation in 1811 used the terms "red men" and "red children [of the Great Spirit]".   If the original redskins found the term acceptable, why don't today's redskins?   Do today's redskins think they are unworthy of the name used by their ancestors?  

If people have a negative view of an ethnic group any word used to describe members of the group will be negative.  In 1850, one of the worst things you could call someone was "Irish".  In northern states they ranked below blacks.  On southern docks they were given jobs too dangerous to risk the lives of slaves on

There were numerous slurs for the Irish.  For example, blacks often called the Irish "white [n-word]s". Urban whites used the term "green [ n-word]"    However, people didn't need to use a slur for the Irish because of the negative attitudes people had about the Irish. This attitude was most commonly shown in "Help Wanted" signs that included the phrase "no Irish need apply".

Incidentally, centuries before Andrew Jackson moved the Cherokee to Oklahoma, the English moved much of the Irish population from Ireland to North America and the West Indies.

The words "redskin" and "Irish" don't have any inherently negative implications as is the case with the n-word and the word "native".    Using the word "redskins" provides a unique one word name for the peoples of the various North American nations . 

Using color to distinguish one group of Americans from another implies the differences between them are only cosmetic and members of one group are not inherently better than members of the other group.

 Using the word "Indian" for redskins requires adding the adjective "American" to distinguish them from the residents of India. 

Using the word "native" requires adding the word "American" to distinguish them from all the different groups of peoples around the world called "native".  In old movies and television shows the term "native" was used for unnamed primitive original residents of the areas white people were visiting or had taken over.   The castaways on the "Gilligan's Island" television show were occasionally visited by "natives" from other islands.

  The Irish didn't let slurs and mistreatment keep them down.  They persevered and made "Irish"  a respected name.   

In 1968, James Brown released his most important song "Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud".   It became the theme song for the black power movement.

Redskins nee d to take similar pride in their complexions.   They need to tell everyone they are proud their skin is "red".

The old leaders who called themselves "redskins" stood up to the white man. Native Americans take orders from whites.  

Redskins were free and independent people.   Native Americans often live on reservations overseen by the government.

The leaders who called themselves "redskins" were self reliant and self confident. Native Americans often appear to lack self confidence.

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