Outkast Performance at Grammys Perpetuates Stereotypes Of Indians
Submitted by Lori Anderson-Finwall
The Outkast performance of their song “Hey Ya” at this year’s Grammy Awards perpetuates the stereotype of American Indians. It perpetuates the perception that religious beliefs, ceremonies, song of prayer and healing are for entertainment and set decoration.
Mennonite sociologists state “perhaps it would be better to speak of the powerful and powerless then the professional and nonprofessional” (Flannery, 2002; Kraybill, 1982). It can be a knotty issue to recognize, name, and criticize informal and subtle domination and control (Flannery, 2002). Power differential in American entertainment and media leads me to a discussion of Authority. Power is differentiated by its use without the consent of others, authority implies an acceptance of the reason for and the use of power (Flannery, 2002).
At no time to my knowledge did the members of the band Outkast seek that advice and permission of Native American elders to use Native American symbols and beliefs in such a garish manner. They abused their power as entertainers. Hiding behind the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution is not an excuse for an abuse of power.
I do see it as an opportunity to educate others. Knowingly passing up a teachable moment on the reality of racism is an act of complicity with racism. The Hmong have a saying that one word speaks louder then thunder. We here in America have the power of one word. The power of one word in the United States is stronger then it's power in many other nations across the world. It is the power to write letters, to advocate for an end to racial legal, educational, medical and mental health disparities in the State of South Dakota and in the United States as a whole.
The reality of a few letters from individuals in Germany, Singapore, and Australia to the legislators and governor of South Dakota a week ago demonstrated to them that they can no longer hide their racist legal, educational and child welfare system by virtue of their remote location. They (South Dakota legislators) are nervous and they should be.
"In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. " Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)
Where are the other voices?
Native Unity - A place for Native American Peoples to solidify their tribes to make a positive impact on the cultural, social, economic and political fabric of American society and a place for non-Natives to better understand the ways of the American Indian.