Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dartmouth, Mascots, and Civility (or lack thereof)

Some weeks ago I wrote about UIUC's "tacos and tequila" frat/sorority "exchange." In weeks following, we learned that across the country, institutions of higher ed have had similar parties, including Cowboys and Indians parties.

Dartmouth's recent experiences around racist activity and representation of American Indians is in today's NY Times. This latest incident is a cartoon in a conservative Dartmouth paper not affiliated with the campus. The cartoon shows an Indian holding a bloody scalp, and the caption reads "The Natives are getting restless." The NY Times article quotes the editorial:

In an editorial, Linsalata wrote: ''While the onus may fall partly on the student body to facilitate an environment more hospitable to Indians, nothing can be done until the Indians themselves lay out measurable goals and steps for how this harmony can be achieved. Patronizing advertisements and excessive use of the race card are antithetical to this goal.''

"...the Indians themselves"?!! Linsalata's remark is outrageous. Dartmouth's Native students speak up regarding negative representations of Native people, and Linsalata says THEY must lay out measurable goals and steps for harmony. Where, in Linsalata's view of the world, is his own responsibility for that harmony?

For more, go directly to Dartmouth's school paper, The Dartmouth.

THIS societal context is the one in which all of you---parents, teachers, librarians, professors, students---must work. THIS mindset is why your work towards helping children know who Native people are, and what US history has been, is crucial. We are all responsible for the views that children hold, the views that they take to heart, that they rely on when they are adults. We can intervene, and we must.

1 comment:

rindawriter said...

There is one very simple rule that, if practiced, can help people very easily avoid discriminatory, racist behavior in any situation with anyone:

"Love your neighbor as yourself."

I'd add: Be honest. Listen a lot before you speak. Walk humbly. Apologize easily for your mistakes. Be willing to learn.

Young children especially learn social behaviors from watching and tryign to imitate the social behaviors of adults in their lives, not just their parents eithers. All of the adults in their lives.