Are We Too Sensitive?

Should we “get over it?”

I came across an article posted by Latina Magazine on Kat Von D’s controversial lipstick name (Celebutard). Apparently some were offended by its name. Parents with children with developmental issues took the greatest offense. As a result, well, you guessed it, Sephora stopped selling the lipstick! She was quoted as tweeting something like, “At the end of the day it’s just a fucken lipstick.” She wants people to get over it. Maybe the name is a tongue in cheek type thing for celebrities being so empty-headed. I don’t know. I haven’t done much research on her line of makeup at Sephora and the reason behind the names. However, I feel bad for saying this… I agree with her. It’s just a lipstick name. Get over it. Feel free to set me straight on this one, if you’d like.

I’m sure we’ve all been exposed to some news about the controversial mascot and name of the NFL team the Washington Redskins. The battle to get the team renamed or have the mascot changed is not new, however. Back in 1992 a group of protestors stood outside the stadium to bring awareness of its offensiveness. I read a little on the history of the Washington team. Apparently the name was changed from the Boston Braves by its owner to honor coach Loan Star Dietz in 1933 who supposedly had Sioux ancestry. How can someone choose a racial slur to honor someone else? I don’t get it.

Many argue that there are other teams with controversial mascots and names, but this particular one is a glorified nickname made famous through the 19th century practice to remove American Indians from western territories by scalping them. You see, American Indians were seen as savage, barbaric, and wild- sub-human by the European White. This name is truly insensitive to a group of people and I am behind them taking it away as a form of a team mascot and name. I don’t care that a franchise will be losing money. What if a team was started in Los Angeles and they named it The Los Angeles Wetbacks. FUCK NO! The argument for many is that a team mascot and name are supposed to cause intimidation, create unison and other. And for supporters of keeping the name, that’s what the logo of the American Indian stands for- barbaric, wild, and savage. Be afraid Vikings, the Washington team will destroy you! But wait, history shows that the barbaric didn’t win. They ended up in reservations. The American Indians are among the poorest, uneducated, and disadvantaged minorities in the United States.

In Southern California the Coachella Valley High School Arabs are going through something similar. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee sent a letter to the school that the depicted mascot is offensive and discriminatory. Here is a bit of history on them. Back in the 1920’s the Sonoma Desert, with similar whether to Middle Eastern areas, was keen on date farming (also like Middle Eastern agricultural customs). In honor of such similarities the school decided to make its mascot an Arab. Versions of the mascot changed over time and now it’s this:

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(image from mydesert.com)

The concern will be discussed in a couple of weeks at a board meeting. What they are opposed to is the notion of a one-size-fits all depiction of a group of people. The hook nose, the scowl all typical stereotypes of Arabs. What if the school just changes the mascot, not the name? “Only, I don’t know what that would look like. I don’t know how you could make a face that would be acceptable to everyone in the world.”-Art Montoya, one of the directors of the school’s alumni association. This statement is pretty powerful. Essentially, someone somewhere will inevitably be offended by an image. Could it be that some people are desensitized to certain imagery? Perhaps. But to the defense of this mascot I feel that it’s basis/origin was not coming from a demonizing stand point.

I don’t think we’re being too sensitive on some topics. If we cannot relate, if we cannot see where the opposers are coming from- let’s stay in our corners. Maybe that’s being a bit hypocritical based on my opinion regarding the Coachella Arabs, but if a high school somewhere in the farmlands of Southern California decided to name themselves Braceros I would support it. The translation for that is someone who works using their hands. A bit of history on the term: in the early 1940s Roosevelt and Camacho the presidents of the United States and Mexico respectively worked out  a program to bring temporary manual labor into the States. It’s end was around the 1960’s. Yes, there are political wrong-doings involved, and profit and economic benefits for both countries, but the people represent a strong secure grouping of other. I don’t see any harm in that.

I guess another thing I’m hinting at is that we should look at historical content and go from there. Try to understand why someone has taken offense regardless of how long it’s been. Sometimes we should stay in our domain and our own know. Think about who is benefiting from offending a group of people. Who is on the other side and what are their thoughts on it? Are they saying to get over it? Who is controlling the machine? Is the machine working to pin us against each other?

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