Saturday, November 10, 2012

Please Challenge, Please Disrupt: Calling out Racism is NOT PC policing

No Doubt turned itself into the PC police

The latest in the ongoing "dialogue" between those that defend racism and stereotyping by calling those that call it out as overly sensitive or a PC bully( politically correct).  It is not PC bullying to be challenging racism or other stereotyping. Crying foul and invoking free speech when challenged, in defending your racist comments or imagery is not a nice way to play. I am not opposed to the principle of free speech, but you need to understanding the impact of what you are saying. 

 These are not small matters but symptoms of the larger ones we don't address properly. In the last month, the No Doubt "Looking Hot" video, another by Lana Del Ray, Rikki Lake, Victoria's Secret lingerie show and several other clothing lines have launched campaigns that sexualize and/or infantilize Aboriginal women, forgetting the annual Hallowe'en extravaganza of sexy NDN hotties. These contribute to the larger challenges of the murdered & missing women, and the continued marginalization of and risks incurred by Aboriginal women. So, challenging and disrupting these kinds of things are necessary to disrupt the larger, more dangerous issues.

The challenge is that they are misusing the cultural tropes to create a romanticized image in much the same way they have done for centuries that promote that it is okay to view women this way, or to view Native men as drunks for example. To fight those larger misperceptions, we need to address these ones to show that it is not okay. I don't have an issue about appropriation per se, except when it is done at an expense to those that are appropriated from.  You can link this type of video to the stereotyping that allows Ezra Levant and his ilk to make barely disguised hate speech about Natives and other minorities and blame the victims for their circumstances (a recent Winnipeg Sun article argued against an inquiry into the Missing & murdered women tragedy because it was their fault and the faults of their Bands. It's on my blog somewhere). 

The author of the above article invoked "Pokahotass" and Native American pornstar Hyapathia Lee when describing Gwen's costume. He seemed to indicate that Native women should feel honoured (my inference).  Dear teachers, I know Aboriginal women who have been assaulted. I can assure you they were not feeling honoured that it was happening. Please explore this aspect of colonialism. Please assess critically. Please challenge. Please disrupt.

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