Sunday, September 14, 2014

Shame on Etsy for Colonialism: Shouting Down Genuine Minority Voices & Abusing Honest Businesses in Favor of Trendy Political Fads

The business platform Etsy has decided to go down the ugly road of identity politics, banning The Washington Redskins name and logo from stores on the site.  By doing so, they are, intentionally or not, joining an attempt to destroy the livelihood of the players and owners of this team, and of the businesses who have invested in merchandise using this name and logo.

Worse, they don't even realize they are behaving in the worst possible practice of Colonialism: dictating "we know what is best for you" to all of their store owners and all of the customers who come to Etsy - and to all members of American Indian Tribes who have not found fault with the team's name or logo. No legal means of attacks on this name or logo have been successful, and The Washington Redskins name and logo remain fully and completely compliant with all applicable American laws.

When it emerged, Redskins' owner and management "traveled to 26 tribal reservations and met with 400 tribal leaders..." They also "took a survey of tribes across 100 reservations..."  What they found is that the large majority of genuine Native Americans actually support the team and its name. Unlike the protesters, the Washington Redskins have actual statistics and genuine data to support their assertion.

In a quick search, I found more unique reports of members of American Indian tribes who don't have an issue with the name - or even appreciate it - than the (often repetitive) reports of those whose own personal names are becoming well known because of their decision to create and push controversy over the word.  Supporters like Torres-Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians Chairwoman Mary L. Resvaloso who said  "There are Native Americans everywhere that 100% support the name," "I believe God has turned this around for something good." She told [Snyder] that "it was far more important for us to focus on the challenges of education in Native American communities."  

Supporters like these, quoted by Paul Woody in the Times-Dispatch:
“It doesn’t bother me,” said Robert Green, 66 and chief of the Patawomeck Tribe in Virginia. “About 98 percent of my tribe is Redskins fans, and it doesn’t offend them, either.”
Kevin Brown, 58 and chief of the Pamunkey Tribe of Virginia, said, “I’m a Redskins fan, and I don’t think there’s any intention for (the nickname) to be derogatory. The majority of the people in my tribe don’t have a problem with it. There are a few who do, and we respect their feelings.
“I like the uniforms. I like the symbol (logo).”
G. Anne Richardson, chief of Virginia’s Rappahannock Tribe, had to stifle a laugh when asked her feelings on the Redskins’ nickname.
“I don’t have an issue with it,” she said. “There are so many more issues that are important for the tribe than to waste time on what a team is called. We’re worried about real things, and I don’t consider that a real thing.
“We’re more worried about our kids being educated, our people housed, elder care and the survival of our culture. We’ve been in that survival mode for 400 years. We’re not worried about how some ball team is named.”
A few months later, a special report by MMQB found that no more than "a dozen members of Congress want the name changed, as do some civil rights groups and vocal members of the national media.", and the reporter herself, obviously sympathetic to those wanting the name change, had to admit after speaking with members of 18 tribes "By no means is there a consensus" among Native Americans themselves.  There are 532 members of Congress, and only 12 of them think this is an issue.  At least a dozen tribes she contacted didn't care enough about it to bother even responding to her inquiry.

The reality is that if this is a genuine issue, and not a made-for-PR art project, it is the prerogative of the tribes and people themselves to take their own actions and speak for themselves - with their own voices.
People like Stephen Dodson,  a "full-blooded American Inuit chief originally from the Aleutian Tribes of Alaska, and said he was tired of being spoken for as a Native American" and went on to say:
“People are speaking for Native Americans that aren’t Native American. Being a full-blooded Indian with my whole family behind me, we had a big problem with all the things that were coming out [of the discussion],” he said. “I think they were basically saying that we were offended, our people were offended, and they were misrepresenting the Native American nation.
“We don’t have a problem with [the name] at all; in fact we’re honored. We’re quite honored.”
As the eldest member of his blood line, Dodson represents more than 700 remaining tribe members and talked to Redskins Nation about the positive power of the Redskins’ name.
“It’s actually a term of endearment that we would refer to each other as,” he explained. “When we were on the reservation, we would call each other, ‘Hey, what’s up redskin?’ We would nickname it just ‘skins.’”
“‘Redskin’ isn’t something given to us by the white man or the blue eyes, it was something in the Native American community that was taken from us. [It’s] used also as a term of respect, because that’s how we were. We respected each other with that term.”
Every individual has preferences for how they prefer to be identified. I am from Oklahoma, and I can attest that every American Indian I have ever known called themselves an Indian.  The fact that many academics prefer "Native American" doesn't mean a thing without surveying the actual tribal members themselves. It is very likely that most people understand the word "native" to mean "a person born here", and agree with the late Russell Means who insisted "The one thing I've always maintained is that I'm an American Indian. I'm not politically correct. Everyone who's born in the Western Hemisphere is a Native American. We are all Native Americans."

Those elitists who are jumping on this manufactured bandwagon, who are not themselves American Indians, are guilty of the worst kind of patronizing colonialism, behaving as though the tribes or their members "need help" from these elitists, as though the members of these tribes can't speak for themselves as individuals and as a corporate body.  By usurping this natural God-given authority, elitists like those running Etsy are setting themselves as arbiters of right and wrong while pretending not to hear the genuine voices telling them to butt out and mind their own business.

Etsy used a long, convoluted blog post to announce the censorship, trying to justify their outrageous, unjust interference with the lawful, legitimate, and time-proven business of the Redskins Football Team and all of the Etsy sellers who sold Redskins licensed memorabilia, by pretending that they are able to speak for "the minority group itself", when in fact, they are not only following the latest elitist trend that ignores the genuine in favor of the romanticized fashion of the moment, but using it as justification for dictating unpredictable rules without warning to honest people who thought the company practiced legitimate governance:
Like the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, we at Etsy find the opinion of the minority group itself to carry most weight in determining whether the mascot is disparaging. In no uncertain terms, Native American groups have consistently advocated and litigated that the term “redskin(s)” is disparaging and damaging to Native Americans. Therefore, it will no longer be permitted in our marketplace.
We understand that fans wish to support their favorite football team, and we do not believe that fans who are attached to the mascot have any racist feeling or intent. We also understand that some fans view the name and mascot as an homage to Native Americans, and we do not doubt their noble intent, but the fact remains that Native Americans themselves find the term unacceptable.
Sellers are welcome to continue selling items that contain the team colors and location, but items containing the name or the logo will no longer be allowed. This change takes effect today. Our Marketplace Integrity Team is contacting members by email whose listings are affected by this updated policy. If you have questions about a specific item in your shop or that you might want to list on Etsy, please contact us using the Help Center.
Etsy does not provide an easy way to contact them, but as a blogger, you can use their Press email address:

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