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Stereotype of the Month Entry

Another Stereotype of the Month entry:

Ad that taunts Navajos may have unintended consequence
Official plans to use spot to motivate team

Sam Lewin 12/10/2003

A radio spot making fun of Navajos is about to end up as locker-room fodder.

A commercial hyping last weekend's minor league hockey series between the Oklahoma City Blazers and the New Mexico Scorpions made unkind references to the Navajos. New West Group, an Oklahoma City-based agency that handles advertising for the Blazers, produced the ad. New West CEO Bob Hammock said the commercial states the Scorpions "are composed of Navajo Indians from Santa Fe who can't shoot, can't check, can't pass, but in between periods will be selling jewelry." He said the ad was meant to be humorous and that he would not hesitate to run it again. The spot aired on multiple radio stations in the Oklahoma City area.

Brent and Natalie Bear heard the ad while driving from Anadarko to Carnegie and were not amused.

"I couldn't believe it. I was offended. My tribe is similar to the Navajos and we both talk the same language. It makes it sound like the Navajos are nothing," said Natalie, a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe.

She is not the only one to take offense.

Scorpions Business Manager Phil Valk said he was stunned at the spot when it was brought to his attention. He plans on using the commercial to motivate the team. The Scorpions are in the same division as the Blazers and play each other several times again this season.

"I showed the ad to everyone and they were pretty flabbergasted. They couldn't believe someone would write something that racist," Valk told the Native American Times.

He said the commercial is sure to inflame the rivalry between two teams playing an already violent sport. Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that the team captain of the Scorpions is Craig Stahl, a Cree Indian from Canada, who apparently is still unaware of the ad. Not for long though.

"He hasn't seen it yet," Valk said. "I've got it right here and I'm going to show him as soon as he walks in."

Rob's comment
This ad expresses a variation of the "white men can't jump" or "black men can't swim or manage" mentality. Since it identifies the Scorpion players by ethnicity, with its "selling jewelry" crack, I think we can call it racist. It discriminates between the teams on the basis of race.

Related links
Highlights of the US report to the UN on racism

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