Home | Contents | Photos | News | Reviews | Store | Forum | ICI | Educators | Fans | Contests | Help | FAQ | Info

Stereotype of the Month Entry

Another Stereotype of the Month entry:

The Worst Laws of 2004
California's Legislature, Still Unmoored from Reality

Jill Stewart
Friday, September 17, 2004
San Francisco Chronicle

The mound of bad bills now sitting on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk is testament to government dysfunction, written in black and white. The big difference this year is that Schwarzenegger may veto many stinkers, while his predecessor, Gray Davis, tended to buckle.

Because Democrats have controlled the California Legislature since 1958 (aside from a blip in 1996, when Republicans controlled only the Assembly side), the vast majority of laws are written by Democrats. As a Democrat, but also a big believer in the need for two parties, I suspect we Democrats have simply ruled the Legislature for too long. When politicos of either party have no fear of being ousted, rational thought disappears.

How else to explain absurd bills now awaiting the governor's signature? This year, Assemblyman Paul Koretz of West Hollywood, one of the most consistently silly Democrats, authored AB1857, making it a crime to declaw exotic cats. As one appalled legislative staffer asked me, "Have we learned nothing from Siegfried & Roy?" San Rafael Assemblyman Joe Nation's AB2193 makes it a crime to let anyone under 14 use a tanning salon. (Right now, the under-14 crowd can go with a parent. Clearly, these families must be stopped.) This, from the same Legislature that utterly ignores California's scandalous teen dropout and illiteracy rates. Hey, a tanning ban lets legislators feel better about themselves.

AB858, by Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg of Los Angeles, bans most uses of "Redskins" as a school mascot. Legislators continually ignore Indians, who in polls say names such as "Braves," "Chiefs" and "Redskins" honor Indian courage and tenacity. But again, this is about legislators badly needing to like themselves.

Rob's reply
In response to her column, I sent Ms. Stewart the following message:

>> Legislators continually ignore Indians, who in polls say names such as "Braves," "Chiefs" and "Redskins" honor Indian courage and tenacity. <<

No, Indians don't say that in polls. The only poll that came close to saying that, the Sports Illustrated "poll," was a methodological joke.

Learn something about the "Redskins" issue at Red·skin n.  Dated, offensive, taboo. The opposition to that vulgarism is quite rational, thank you very much.

Another reply

Our Voice: Schwarzenegger erred in his rebuke of mascot bill
‘Redskin' is racist, derogatory term — has no place in school

The Desert Sun
September 27th, 2004

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger should have done his homework on the origin of the word ‘Redskin' before nixing a bill that would ban the use of the offensive name on five school campuses in California.

His reasoning, that "Decisions regarding athletic team names, nicknames or mascots should be retained at the local level" — doesn't address the very real issue of racism involved here. We're all in support of local control — but this is not a local control issue — it's an issue of prejudice.

Since it doesn't look like the governor opened his history book — or the Google search engine — before making his decision — we decided to do the research for him:

At one time in our not so distant past, there was a bounty on the heads of the Indian people.

Along with animal skins, they would bring along Indian scalps to barter at the trading posts. Red skins — get it? It means a dead Indian's scalp. There's no getting around the true meaning — it's a part of a notorious time in our country's history.

At its most basic level, and according to Webster's New World College Dictionary, ‘redskin' is defined as: an American Indian: now considered by many to be an offensive term. A few hundred pages later, you find the word "whitey" — a white person or white people collectively: a usually hostile term of contempt.

So what the heck is the difference? They are both derogatory and inflammatory. Can't you just imagine that all hell would break loose if a school nicknamed its teams the "whities" — even in jest?

The governor bucked a long list of Indian, labor, civil rights and school group supporters. Choosing, instead, to side with a much smaller minority that included some of the affected schools, their representatives and a few others, including the Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi Tribe, according to a legislative analysis of the bill.

Schwarzenegger let an opportunity slip by to extinguish racist references from somewhere they most certainly do not belong — our youth's team jerseys.

A bold signature by the governor on this bill would have sent a strong message: racist mascots of any type will not be tolerated in our schools.

Unfortunately, he's left the door open on this one.

THE ISSUE: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently vetoed legislation that would have banned the use of ‘Redskins' as a school mascot.

OUR STANCE: The term ‘Redskins' has long been part of this nation's vocabulary, especially when it comes to sports teams. But it is derogatory — the true meaning: A dead Indian's scalp. Schwarzenegger had an opportunity to extinguish this racist reference by California schools by banning the use of ‘Redskins' as a school mascot. Unfortunately, he chose not to.

Support for Legislation (partial list)

Alliance Against Racial Mascots
Alliance of native Americans of Southern California
American Indian Child Resource Center
American Indian Movement — Ohio, Kentucky
American Indian Recruitment Project, UCLA
American Indian Student Association, UCLA
American Sports Institute
Americans for Indian Opportunity
California Federation of Teachers
California Indian Education Association
California Nations Indian Gaming Association
California School Employees Association
California Teachers Association
Capitol Area Indian Resources, Inc.
Coyote Valley Tribal Council
Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians
El Dorado/Amador Counties Indian Education Project
First Nations Tribal Family Center, Incorporated
Fontana Native American Indian Center
Foothill Indian Education Alliance, Inc.
Hoopa Valley Tribal Council
Juaneno Band of Mission Indians
National Indian Education Association
Native Nations Law and Policy Institute, UCLA
Sierra Nevada Native American Council, Inc.
Southern California Indian Center
TRIAD-Team Response: Indians Against Defamation
Tribal Law and Policy Institute
Opposition to Legislation
City of Arcadia
Congressman Devin Nunes
Gustine Unified School District Board of Education
Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi Tribe
Tulare Improvement Program
Tulare Union High School

Related links
Team names and mascots

* More opinions *
  Join our Native/pop culture blog and comment
  Sign up to receive our FREE newsletter via e-mail
  See the latest Native American stereotypes in the media
  Political and social developments ripped from the headlines

. . .

Home | Contents | Photos | News | Reviews | Store | Forum | ICI | Educators | Fans | Contests | Help | FAQ | Info

All material © copyright its original owners, except where noted.
Original text and pictures © copyright 2007 by Robert Schmidt.

Copyrighted material is posted under the Fair Use provision of the Copyright Act,
which allows copying for nonprofit educational uses including criticism and commentary.

Comments sent to the publisher become the property of Blue Corn Comics
and may be used in other postings without permission.