Political Correctness and American Indians

First let me say...I HATE POLITICAL CORRECTNESS! Why? Simply because it focuses on words instead of actions. It has put people in a permanent state of defensiveness concerning what they say. I also don't appreciate others deciding for me what I can and can't say. Actions mean more than words. Here is an example of what I mean.

Situation #1: A person comes up to me and says, "Are you an Indian?" or "I find Indians to be very interesting."

Situation #2: (This really happened to me) I'm at a donut shop here in San Antonio. I'm waiting for my turn to be served right by the cash register. The lady finishes with a customer and even though I'm next, she begins to wait on another. I give her the benefit of the doubt. She finishes with that customer, looks me right in the face and says, "Who's next?" I say, "I am." Then a white woman who came in after me rushes up to the counter and says, "I am." The lady waits on her, knowing full well that I was next. I got mad and said, "Don't you people serve Indians here?" The lady says, "I'm sorry sir I thought she was next." I said, "The heck you did. You knew dang good and well I was here before her." The manager came out wondering what was going on, so I told him. He apologized and offered to give me my donuts free. Did I take them? You bet.

Situation #3: (This happened to me too) I'm on a temporary duty assignment at Ellsworth AFB in South Dakota. I go to a western store at the mall there in Rapid City to get a new hat. I notice that everywhere I go,the people are watching me. So I deliberately move from one side of the store to another just to see what they're going to do. Sure enough everywhere I went, the saleslady went too. I thought, "Ain't this something? She is all concerned that I'm going to steal something, but has yet to say can I help you or anything."

Now of these situations, who was showing racism? If I have to answer that for you, no offense, but you're really dense. The person in situation #1 was not being racist simply by using the term Indian. Does it really matter if a person says, "I hate Indians" or "I hate Native Americans"? Actions and intent are what matters, not words.

Let's look at a few PC issues concerning Native Americans.

The word Indian. To me this is a non-issue. What difference does it possibly make if I am an Indian or a Native American. I'm still me either way. So what if Columbus came up with the word by mistake (although there are several theories as to why we are called Indians.) I grew up hearing this word my whole life. Today when Indian people are together, we call ourselves that (at least my family and friends do). Don't get me wrong, I don't care if you call me Native American, but the point is, if you say Indian, I'm not gonna get mad. It's just a word. One time I did a presentation at a school. The poor teacher was on eggshells every time she talked to me. She actually asked, "What should I call you -- Native American or, or..." I felt so bad for her. I simply said, "Indian or Native American is fine...Rick is even better." She shouldn't have to feel so scared. More importantly than any of this is -- If we are now Native Americans instead of Indians, what exactly have we accomplished? Is alcoholism and drug abuse down? Has unemployment decreased? Are there more Indian people graduating from college than ever before? Can someone please tell me how we've decreased racism or helped our people by changing a term? Let's quite wasting time on this and try to tackle real problems.

Sports teams. Another waste of time as far as I'm concerned. Don't misunderstand. I understand the feelings and thoughts of those who fight this battle. Also, I really don't care one way or another if the teams change their names. If they choose to do that, then I think it is great that they are listening to the voices of some of our people. But I think too much time, energy, expense, and emphasis is placed on this issue. Once again I have to asked the question, "What have we accomplished if teams change their names?" For some real perspective on this, let me quote Chief James Billy of the Seminole Nation. When asked about Florida State University's use of the Seminole name and mascot, he said, 

"Nothing has been broken, nothing needs fixing. We do not want to participate in this ridiculous debate just to fan the flames of news hype for those few who are trying to instigate reverse racism and resentment. I do not have time to participate in such manufactured controversies that serve no purpose, what so ever, than to promote the egos of those few instigators who have assigned themselves the lofty position of telling us Seminoles how we are supposed to feel."

Enough said.


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