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Stereotype of the Month Contest

Introducing the Stereotype of the Month Contest:

Some say racism is dead and we should stop harping on it. I say it's alive and we need to recognize it. I hope this contest will contribute to the effort.

The contest's goal is to identify the worst stereotype, mistake, or offense regarding Native Americans. Anything that shows people still have narrow views of Native people may qualify.

Each monthly contest will begin on the first day of the month and end on the last day. If there aren't at least seven entries in a particular month, I'll carry the contest over to the next month. I'll post the winners on my website as permanent evidence that racism and stereotyping are still with us.

Rules: An entry should be something new—something that just happened in the news or appeared in the media. You can't point to Tonto, Chief Wahoo, or a sports team name and say, "I just noticed this!" Also, it should be public knowledge—something one could find in a library or on the Internet. No fair pointing to your neighbor down the street and claiming, "He just called me a name!"

I may post entries that bend these rules. But a key goal here is to highlight institutional stereotyping, not individual stupidity. Anyone can be ignorant, but that isn't necessarily society's fault. But when a school, a media outlet, or a corporation—any institution with enough decision-makers who should know better—perpetuates a stereotype, that's symptomatic of the cultural values rooted in our society.

Also, our Hall of Shame exists to cover several categories of stereotyping, especially pseudo-Indian shamans and gurus, sports mascots, and programs like the Y-Indian Guides. We'll consider entries in these categories, but they must present some novel example of stereotyping. It's not enough for a New Ager to claim he delivers enlightenment through the "Sacred Circle"; he has to promise to cure cancer or establish world peace. It's not enough for a mascot defender to say "Redskins" honor Indians; he has to declare that Natives oppose his team because they're jealous of Anglos. Or something equally outrageous.

The only other rules are that people can enter as many times as they wish. And if two or more people happen to enter the same item, I'll use the first entry. I may not post entries that don't meet the requirements as I envision them.

I hope this will be fun for everyone. It appeals to me, but then I have an usual set of values. If you heard of this contest elsewhere, please e-mail me your examples. I don't check every mailing list or newsgroup where I've posted this information, and others are forwarding it also. I have to see your entries myself, and I wouldn't want to miss anything.

So...if you've got a stereotype to report, e-mail me now!


P.S. If anyone wants to argue that recognizing racism and stereotyping is "divisive," that it's "balkanizing" America, don't bother. I've considerd that position at length and rejected it. For a few postings on the subject, go to:

Related links
Outside the so-called ethnic box
Prayer in the Bush league

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Original text and pictures © copyright 2007 by Robert Schmidt.

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