Thoughts on The Blue Indian

I’ve been tweeting back and forth with The Blue Indian about the name of its brand, but I think it makes more sense to just write it out in a post.

The Blue Indian is Georgia’s self-proclaimed “indie music hub.” I say “self-proclaimed” not because I think they’re pretentious, but because I have no way to affirm or deny that claim. I just take their word for it. Furthermore, I don’t really care.  I am only concerned with the name and images of the site, not the content (I have no problem with it).

For some strange reason, despite overwhelming evidence proving otherwise, I naively think that everyone knows that “Indians” are people from India, so when I was linked to the site the name did not ring any alarms. The calm didn’t last for long though. The site’s banner disturbed my mental peace in ways that even Ludacris couldn’t imagine. The image isn’t as strikingly offensive as the mascot of the Cleveland Indians or the mere name of the Washington Redskins, but it still disturbing.

First, as I mentioned before, “Indian” is wholly incorrect. Columbus called Native Americans Indians because he was lost as hell.  If you’re going to continue his legacy of ignorance by calling Native Americans, “Indians,” you need to also call Cubans, “Chinese” and Haitians, “Japanese” just as he did( Columbus gets a pass because he put his trust in uninformed cartographers, the Mapquest of the 15th century. We don’t have such a scapegoat).

Moreover, by naming their site, “The Blue Indian” and then audaciously having a blue Native American serve as a “mascot,”  the creators of the site are not only implying the existence of some type of monolithic Native American culture, but also implying that said culture does not deserve any type of respect. To them, “Indians” are not people, they are just exhibits in the museum of their fantasies.

Now, to clarify, I’m not calling for a limit on imagination. I’m just opposed to people using cultures, especially stereotypical representations of cultures, to serve their needs without respect being paid to the culture being appropriated. When the creators of the site were developing the site, they just wanted a “cool name.” There was never any thought about what the name means or what it implies. To them, it is just a means to an end. That is troublesome.

What’s next? “The Green African?” “The Purple Arab?”  “The Mauve Mongoloid?” When a culture is used as an object, the people represented by that culture are also objectified. When people are objectified, accordingly, they are treated like objects. In this instance, people were painted blue. That may seem benign, but when I consider the fact that the mascot of the Cleveland Indians started off as a Native person (caricature) that was “just painted red” and grew to become a giant racist franchise, I get a little concerned.

Further Reading

http://nativeappropriations.blogspot.com/2010/04/but-why-cant-i-wear-hipster-headdress.html (this blog is great, by the way)

https://theblacktongue.wordpress.com/2010/06/18/hunger-strike/ (this blog wants to be great)

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