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Why Indians Shouldn't Boycott OutKast By: David Yeagley
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, February 19, 2004


Indians are on the warpath against the OutKast Grammy performance, but I won’t be joining them. They’re using the wrong weapons and aiming at the wrong target. They may weaken the Indian cause. It’s bad medicine.

I was the first to publicly protest the OutKast performance, but for different reasons than those later expressed by professional Indian leaders. Their protests were all aimed at the concept of “stereotyping.” They protested OutKast’s “Indian” costumes, and their lyrics. I protested the ethos of their dance. The OutKast performance was designed to be sexually provocative. Indian cultural dance simply has no such focus or purpose, ever. African-American dance styles are antithetical to American Indian dance.

 

Stereotyping itself is no crime, nor even a fault.  It is one of the most basic functions of the human mind. Gestalt psychology demonstrated this years ago through the study of perception. The mind always groups things together, because it takes less energy than examining separate items. We tend to see things as a whole, rather than as multiple individual pieces. It is the natural economy of the mind. In Gestalt psychology, it is called “closure.” 

 

This visual and psychological grouping is manifested in all human experience. It finds an equivalent expression in sociological or racial stereotyping. It is a perfectly normal response to all manner of stimuli. 

 

“Liberal” racists, however, neglect to incorporate psychological fact into their accusations. They focus rather on what they consider the failure of anyone who groups human beings together. Leftists aggrandize this into a moral failure, and then claim superior righteousness, when they are merely applauding themselves for responding to moral dilemmas in a way that is other-than-human. Talk about moral failure!

 

Some Indians fail too. Protesting against stereotyping, against the use of Indian imagery in any way by non-Indians is typically based on the hackneyed political construct that stereotyping human beings is evil, and that any time it happens, for any reason, it is denigrating and hurtful to those stereotyped—regardless of the intent of those doing the stereotyping. This is the leftist Indian leaders’ whole basis for protesting the use of American Indian warrior images for athletic team logos, monikers, or mascots. 

 

But I have encouraged the proper use of Indian warrior images since I began writing for Front Page Magazine. I have spoken in support of the use of Indian images, names, and mascots as educational tools, and as opportunities to teach character building. I cited Oglala Sioux/Chippewa Indian Eric Enno (former coaching assistant for the University of North Dakota “Fighting Sioux”) as a fine example. 

 

The white leftist incentive to remove all Indian images from the American public view I have denounced as a virtual genocide, or as a visual ethnic cleansing. Leftists simply don’t want to see any Indian image anywhere in America.  

 

The OutKast image hardly resembled anything Indian, but I do not protest the fact that OutKast dressed as Indians, however inaccurately, inappropriately, or mockingly. I protest the fact that the moral ethos of their performance was antithetical to that of Indian dance, and the fact that the white leftist politicians were altogether silent.

 

It was a case ignorance, and maybe even innocence, on all sides. 

 

But the CBS apology is a meaningless, Clintonian gesture that mocks sincerity. They don’t know what they are apologizing for, because the true offense was not delineated by the protesting Indians. Such apologies are like moral “mascots,” mocking the true spirit of integrity. Such words are utterly superficial.

 

Is CBS responsible for OutKast’s performance? What does an apology communicate, except the desire to avoid legal suit?  

 

OutKast’s apology was completely skewed.  

 

I demand no apology.  

 

I was early asked to sign petitions to demand apology.  I never did. I will allow blacks to achieve their equality with whites. They can suffer the protests of white leftists and leftist-trained Indian leaders. They can then claim full equality with white America. I couldn’t care less.    

 

I care about the public “image” leftist Indian leaders are making for all Indians. It is not an image of strength and dignity, but of childish egotism, wholly out of character with the great warrior image that once ruled the Western plains. 

 

OutKast’s mime represented nothing dignified. In fact, it depicted values foreign to Indians. But warrior logos for sports teams do represent something valuable to Indians:  courage, discipline, and bravery. 

 

I can’t protest OutKast on the same basis as leftist Indians do, not for “stereotyping.” For me, the OutKast stereotype was simply a wrong one. 

 

I’m proud of the right one. Go “Fighting Sioux!”

Dr. David A. Yeagley is a published scholar, professionally recorded composer, and an adjunct professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Liberal Studies. He's on the speakers list of Young America's Foundation. E-mail him at badeagle2000@yahoo.com. View his website at http://www.badeagle.com.


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