Tags: community, culture, discourse/language, prejudice/discrimination, race/ethnicity, social mvmts/social change/resistance, sports, politics of representation, symbolic representation, racism, subtitles/CC, 00 to 05 mins
Access: South Park Studios
Summary: In this short clip from the animated television series South Park, Jimbo and Chef argue over whether the town flag should be changed. Keeping the flag unchanged might be seen as a noble cause for Jimbo and the other white residents of South Park, but given that the flag depicts the lynching of a black person, most viewers of the show will recognize the flag for the racist relic that it truly is. Working as satire, the racist flag controversy is clever misdirection, for the episode is really taking aim at much more polarizing issues, such as the display and celebration of confederate flags, and more pointedly, the widespread use of Native people as sports mascots. Jimbo and Chef briefly discuss the Cleveland Indians at the 45 second mark, but the controversy over the Washington "Redskins" is also relevant. Begun by the Oneida Indian Nation, there is a growing movement to end the use of the racial epithet currently used as the team's name. For the many people who have trouble understanding why Native Peoples are offended, the South Park clip suggests a useful thought experiment. Suppose the town and its flag were real. The depiction of a lynching victim would likely be offensive in its capacity to trigger public memories among Blacks of a particular form of racial violence that prevailed in the U.S. at the beginning of the twentieth century. Second, the flag would also likely be an uncomfortable reminder of the violence blacks must still face today, which in at least one form persists as racist policing, Finally, it should be obvious that the fact any community would proudly hang such a flag would be a slap in the face of the black community, who would rightfully perceive that their trauma is less important than preserving some image on a town flag. Like the fictional South Park flag, the "Redskins" name is offensive in that the slur recalls the white racism and genocidal policies imposed on Native peoples. The name triggers public memories among Native peoples regarding the U.S. government's campaign to annihilate and drive tribes from their homes. As a slur, "Redskin" seems to have fallen out of favor, but racism toward Native peoples continues and the association of the slur with the nation's capital certainly does nothing to engender hope that times have changed. Finally, as with the South Park flag, the continued use of the slur is a slap in the face of Native peoples, who rightfully perceive that their trauma is less important than preserving the name of a sports team. Symbolic representations, such as those that make their way onto flags and bumper stickers, are always born from relations of power; namely, who has the power to represent whom and what is the effect of those representations (Note that we also consider the question of who has the right to represent whom in another post).
Submitted By: Lester Andrist
11/26/2013 12:27:27 pm
This article has many false errors and positions. There are native American teams which us the same type of mascots and names. and many polls by native americans do not consider it offensive.
A Native Person
11/27/2013 12:11:00 am
As someone who identifies as Native myself (Mi'kmaw) I don't know many of who see this flag as unoffensive, Steve, so I don't know where you get this idea that 'a majority of Native Americans do not consider it offensive'. Maybe you should speak to us sometime and ask for yourself.
11/27/2013 10:18:24 am
11/27/2013 10:20:57 am
I don't lie. People should look this up themselves before they throw out judgments. Otherwise it becomes dictatorship. The few ruling the many.
12/25/2013 04:02:22 am
Steve, there are also a lot on African Americans using the 'N' word and many of use it as a term of endearment, but does that mean an NFL team should call themselves the 'N's?' Your source explains that in the article.
Ranielle Jerae Smith Chavez of the Dine Clan of Monument Valley Utah is a disgrace to our culture. She pretends to be active in her cultural beliefs but currently is more active in having affairs with married men. She herself was a teen mother and in married and proceeded to marry a man and continued having relations with other married men. This is what she teaches her daughters? Her youngest was only an infant when Ranielle chose this path. Her daughters will never know their mother as anything but a woman that has to lie and cheat her way through life. Breaking up homes and marriages. She needs to be stopped #notyourhusband
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