Polaroid Indians



Polaroid Indians

Tristan Ahtone


“Boycotts are great, protests are great, but I think we really should be doing more educating.”
With all the protesting and boycotting, anger and hub-bub, Outkast’s performance at the Grammy Awards this February is still, no matter what anyone says, a shining example of one thing: stupidity.

You can, of course, view this through whatever lens you feel appropriate: Outkast is simply a product of society; their performance was a representation of how America feels about Indian; or they are racist. Or even anything else that helps you build up from the base idea of Outkast being a bunch of morons. Regardless of whether the Grammy committees or CBS approved the performance beforehand, their endorsement and support and Outkast’s entire performance was just downright ignorant and should not be taken as anything more.

Outkast most likely would have been offended by Indians in blackface, just as Indians are offended by blacks dressing like Disney’s Peter Pan Indians. However, the reality of the situation is that if there had been one functioning brain among anyone involved in the decision-making process, this performance most likely would have been something other than Peter Pan. Had I been there, I could have thrown all reason out the window and asked for an encore featuring Al Jolsen and friends to do a minstrel show.

Luckily, the last time anyone donned blackface was at the Friar’s Club roast of Whoopi Goldberg in 1993. Ted Danson, then-boyfriend of Goldberg, put on blackface and was subsequently beaten out of popular culture and into the role of “Becker,” effectively removing him from the actors A-list. The blackface was okay at the time for Goldberg who insisted that he do it. Fortunately, no one else thought it was too funny.

Another example of how bad behavior stems from stupidity is the KKK, an organization most are aware of, founded entirely on ignorance and, for lack of a better term, backward stupidity. Would anyone out there reading this really disagree that the Klan is downright ignorant? I suppose if you’re a member of the Klan you may disagree: of course if you aren’t a member and still disagree, please feel free to write me, so I can beat you with a rolled up newspaper.

Boycotts are great, protests are great, but I think we really should be doing more educating. Prior to the show, had the Grammys, CBS, or Outkast stopped to ask a handful of Indians whether their performance was going to be offensive, I’m sure at least somebody would have said, and probably politely, that this kind of behavior is offensive and promotes ignorance. Many people have compared the outfits worn at the performance to something out of Peter Pan, and when you really think about it, that young boy in tights might be the key to this whole thing. Peter Pan signifies never growing up and that’s exactly what Outkast and the supporters or those unaffected by their performance has failed to do: Grow Up. I think the safe assumption is, if it’s questionable, ASK SOMEONE WHO MIGHT KNOW. Obviously, in the case of Outkast, relying on your own common sense hasn’t gotten you anywhere, the next time, educate yourself first.

Despite their total lack of understanding, I do like Outkast, and have enough faith to say that with a little education the band could not only give a heartfelt apology, but learn how to stop the promotion of such ignorant ideas. And possibly in the future they can play that song again, and I won’t feel funny about singing to it out loud.



“Many people have compared the outfits worn at the performance to something out of Peter Pan”¦ Peter Pan signifies never growing up and that’s exactly what Outkast and the supporters or those unaffected by their performance has failed to do: Grow Up.”
Want to know more about the Oukast issue? Read about the  boycott!
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