Sunday, September 28, 2014

Release the Tape

I've been away from my usual night-time television routine, and so didn't at first see the Daily Show's bit about the name of the Washington, D.C., football team (in all its racist, stupid glory).

To summarize, the show brought together (separately) a panel of team fans, dressed in their typical game regalia. In another room, there was another panel made up of native people, about half of whom are part of a native comedy group called The 1491s.

The fans told the show's "correspondent," Jason Jones, why the name needs to stay the same and how it doesn't insult native people. Scenes with the native panel showed exactly what they thought of that, including the point that the word "redskin" was used when putting bounties on native people.

Finally, Jones asked if the fans would say the same thing to the face of a native person, and one of the fans said yes. So the show proceeded to bring in the native panel to meet the fans.

What's not shown, I guess, is that at least some of the fans became emotional when confronted with the truth that their behavior is hurtful and racist. One fan said she "felt unsafe" (what?!) and that they had defamed her (which isn't possible since defamation requires an untruth, right?).

All of that is just prelude to this post, written by one of the members of The 1491s. In it, Migizi Pensoneau gives more background on how the episode came together and what was left out in editing up until this point.

But then he goes on to say that the show also took The 1491s and a camera crew to a game at the Washington team's stadium the next day, so that they could wander around the tailgating area to talk to fans. They were there for an hour, during which they weren't exactly "honored" as the mascots fans seem to think they are:

There were points during that hour-long experience where I actually was afraid for my life. I have never been so blatantly threatened, mocked or jeered. It was so intense, so full of vitriol that none of the footage ended up being used in the segment. I’m a big dude—6’1”, and a lotta meat on the bones. But a blonde little wisp of a girl completely freaked me out as I waited in line for the bathroom. “Is that shirt supposed to be funny?” she asked motioning to my satirical “Caucasians” T-shirt. And then she said, “I’ll fucking cut you.” Actually, she didn’t scare me so much as the wannabe linebackers standing behind her who looked like they wanted to make good on her threat. 
Pensoneau's shirt design, I assume, is this adaptation of the Cleveland baseball team's logo, with a dollar sign standing in for the feathers:

So you can see that it's no more offensive than any of the usual cartoonish renderings of Indians found on team shirts around the country.

I hope the Daily Show releases their recordings of what went down.

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