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Stereotype of the Month Entry

Another Stereotype of the Month entry:

From the Native Times:

Civil rights group blasts editor of college newspaper
Request action from SOSU president

Sam Lewin 2/7/2006

A Native American civil rights group has filed a formal complaint over an Oklahoma college's student newspaper.

The letter comes after students working for The Southeastern, the paper for Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, published yet another article critical of American Indians.

"We are extremely angry, disappointed and amazed that [the college's administration] has so far chosen to disregard a series of insulting and blatantly racist statements against American Indians printed in your own university paper," wrote Peggy Larney and W. Keith Overstreet of the Indian Citizens Against Racial Exploitation.

The controversy began last December when a columnist that calls himself "The Amazing" Beau Chadwell referred to Native Americans as "savages" and used other racial slurs.

The flap over those comments led to an article in the Native American Times. In the paper's next edition, Southeastern managing editor Jason May wrote a column called "Beau Knows critics ignoring the real issues." In the column, May writes that he was "scalped" in the Native American Times story, and suggests one of the reasons the paper has not received complaints about Chadwell's comments is "because 50 percent of Native Americans are at a below basic literacy level."

For Lamey and Overstreet, these latest racially charged comments were the final straw.

Referring to May as a "condescending beginner," they ask Southeastern President Glen Johnson to review the articles for violations of the school's racial/ ethnic harassment policy.

"May... writes a very reckless, mistake-filled, dangerous, defensive and strongly inciting article," states the letter.

A Southeastern spokeswoman told the Native American Times that Johnson had received the letter and was reviewing it.

Laney and Overstreet also take issue with the following sentence in May's article: "Native Americans are also 200 percent more likely to commit homicide." That claim, they say, is flat-out wrong.

"If [May] will consult with the expert information on hate crimes contained within the website of the U.S. FBI, he will find that American Indians have the lowest incidence of committing violent crimes, including ones motivated by racial hatred than any racial group in America. Further, in a past study, the U.S. Department of Justice found that American Indians are far more likely than any other racial group or minority to be victims of violence by non-Indians...his reckless statements are false," they write.

Dustin Knight, a Choctaw student at the school who has been following the controversy said, "it's ridiculous[for May] to use statistics that aren't true."

He also said the original artcicle from Chadwell should never have run in the first place.


Southeastern president bashes school paper for "insensitive, stereotypical" depictions of Native Americans
Paper's editor counters Johnson trying to "appease" Indian critics

Sam Lewin 2/15/2006

Citing concerns about freedom of speech, the president of an Oklahoma college has refused to take action against staffers at the school's newspaper over a series of articles containing anti-Indian slurs.

"I cannot and will not regulate the student press," wrote Southeastern Oklahoma State University President Glen Johnson, in a letter addressed to the "Southeastern Family."

Johnson does criticize the articles, saying they are at odds with the university's values.

"I can, however, exercise my freedom of speech to state my complete disapproval of [columnist Beau] Chadwell and [editor Jason] May's use of insensitive, stereotypical, and divisive language in describing Native Americans as a people," Johnson wrote. "These writers do not speak for me and do not reflect the values of diversity and inclusion which we strive to achieve at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Central to the University's mission are values which promote competent communication, intellectual freedom, respect for diversity, and the development of responsible and ethical citizens."

Johnson's comments, however, do not appear to carry much weight with the paper's staffers. Contacted for reaction by the Native American Times, May wrote in an e-mail that he believes Johnson "was responding to the columns to appease those who have lodged complaints, not because he has any personal vested interest in the situation."

May also claims in the e-mail that he has "Native American heritage."

The controversy began late last year when Chadwell penned a column calling Native Americans "savages" and other slurs. In a subsequent edition, May defended his decision to allow Chadwell's column to run, and inflicted further damage by asserting that the paper has perhaps not recieved any letters of complaints "because 50 percent of Native Americans are at a below basic literacy level."

The articles created a furor, and the Indian Citizens Against Racial Exploitation, an area civil rights group, contacted Johnson.

Referring to May as a "condescending beginner" and a "novice young journalist," members of the group asked the university president to review the articles for violations of the school's racial/ ethnic harassment policy.

After receiving a copy of Johnson's response, members of the group expressed approval.

"Your unambiguous and decisive censure of the negative and false ideas concerning American Indians inherent in the writings of Chadwell and May is extremely important," wrote the group's Peggy Larney and W. Keith Overstreet. "We believe parents, grandparents and supporters of our fine tribal youth attending Southeastern now will know where you stand personally in your abhorrence of such blatant racial disrespect."

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