Summary: This video is from the 2013 Mummer's Parade, a long-standing tradition of people dressing up in elaborate costumes to perform on New Year's Day in Philadelphia. Here, the Venetian New Year's Association enacts a show they call "Indi-Insourcing." It begins with 4 white males dressed as Indians with telephone headsets and unveiling the "New Delhi Call Center," while dancing Gangnam style. Images of the Taj Mahal are in the background. Next, a teepee is brought forward and a group of white men dressed as American Indians emerges on toy horses to take over the Indians and transform the call center into the "New Jersey Call Center" (emphasis added). They are joined by a larger number of other (white) people dressed as American Indians, and perform a group Gangnam dance while the commentators describe their performance theme as "bringing jobs back to America ... a tribe of American Indians emerge with the Tomahawk chop; they charge, surround and take over the call center." Referring to the costumes and performance, the second commentator describes "the posh culture of Gangnam" and that if PSY were here today, "he could really see how fancy we [Philadelphians] could go." Both the performance and the commentators' narration are highly problematic and can be used to expose white privilege, racism, and stereotypical portrayals of the groups mentioned above. Viewers may consider not only how the performers portray the groups through stereotypes, but the irony of American Indians in taking over Indian call centers. After all, it was white Europeans who colonized Native American land and destroyed their way of life, and it is white Americans who claim to have special rights to jobs that are outsourced to places like India. Through images of the "Tomahawk chop" and use of horses to "take over" a call center, the performers appropriate and misrepresent American Indian culture while disregarding the role of whites and their colonial past. Viewers should also consider the significance that the parade organizers allowed this performance, and the commentators had a positive reaction to it. For example, the female commentator refers to the costumes and performance as "fancy" (consistent with the event's descriptive language) while disregarding the underlying racist stereotypes and messages. What does this acceptance of such depictions suggest about American culture and how white privilege operates?
Submitted By: Nickie Michaud Wild