At MOPO, the Hamburger Morgenpost, “Indianer-Kostüm-Verbot Das sagen die Nachfahren amerikanischer Ureinwohner dazu“… the article on recent controversy where a German kindergarten forbid the usage of “Indianer” or American Indian costumes. The decision by the school has sparked debate across the country on cultural appropriation, “innocent” appreciation and colonial practice equaling racism.
It is ironic that Natives and allies have said so all along, with educational campaigns such as #NotYourMascot and #NotYourCostume, but were largely ignored and minimized. However, when a white European person or group dares to actually behave responsibly and stop culturally abusive practices, there is outrage.
Over a decade ago, exactly as our documentary shared, the American Psychological Association (APA) stated:
“Research has shown that the continued use of American Indian mascots, symbols, images and personalities has a negative effect on not only American Indian students but all students by:
- Undermining the educational experiences of members of all communities-especially those who have had little or no contact with indigenous peoples. The symbols, images and mascots teach non-Indian children that it’s acceptable to participate in culturally abusive behavior and perpetuate inaccurate misconceptions about American Indian culture.
- Establishes an unwelcome and often times hostile learning environment for American Indian students that affirms negative images/stereotypes that are promoted in mainstream society.
According to Stephanie Fryberg, PhD, University of Arizona, this appears to have a negative impact on the self-esteem of American Indian children, “American Indian mascots are harmful not only because they are often negative, but because they remind American Indians of the limited ways in which others see them. This in turn restricts the number of ways American Indians can see themselves.”
- Undermines the ability of American Indian Nations to portray accurate and respectful images of their culture, spirituality and traditions. Many American Indians report that they find today’s typical portrayal of American Indian culture disrespectful and offensive to their spiritual beliefs.
- Presents stereotypical images of American Indians. Such mascots are a contemporary example of prejudice by the dominant culture against racial and ethnic minority groups.
- Is a form of discrimination against American Indian Nations that can lead to negative relations between groups.”
Side note: It’s noteworthy that the writer Mike Schlink placed my name in quotation marks, which he did to no other European style name in the article. It was auto-assumed my name was fake or a “nickname” because it was different than the Eurocentric mindset, assumption and judge/jury practice we commonly see when white people come across ethnic or other names. Rather disrespectful and subtly racist, when he could have asked or just treated it as any other name.