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The Dartmouth
April 19, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

The Dartmouth Who?

You're too sensitive!" Why, because I don't like the fact that my identity is plastered on a T-shirt or jacket being worn by someone who knows nothing about me?

"We're paying tribute; you should consider it an honor." Apparently, I should feel honored that people treat my identity like any other "mascot," like mammals, insects and other animals.

Since when is it OK to have a person or group of people to be mascots? Now, I suppose, because we're too sensitive, we should be proud that our people are "celebrated" in such a manner.

Officially, Dartmouth College has never acknowledged the American Indian as a mascot; something to be stamped on the front of a shirt, something to be mocked by people who know nothing of the history of Native Americans in this country or at this college. Yet people claim ignorance and insist that it is their prerogative even as it disturbs members of the community in which they live. They will still insist, even as the act of wearing an offensive shirt, jacket or other type of clothing perpetuates stereotypes created by an ethnic-conscious American society.

Somebody remind me what happened a few months back when a favorite brand of Dartmouth-"type" clothing called Abercrombie and Fitch came out with an offensive T-shirt line. I believe the group as a whole, the Asian-American community, even as diverse as that is, was targeted. The company met with outrage and disgust. The line was pulled. Why not the same reaction to those who choose to disrespect Native Americans at Dartmouth and those who might sympathize with them?

Native Americans aren't those big warriors that ride around on horses with feather headdresses waving tomahawks and yelling. Native Americans are sitting next to you in class, playing on your intramural teams, living down the hall from you and writing the editorial pieces you are reading now. Remember Tarzan Brown, Crazy Horse, Geronimo and Jim Thorpe? Don't know who they are? Your shirt doesn't tell you?

Why not the Dartmouth Gumbas, Dartmouth Jews, Dartmouth Pollacks, Dartmouth Fighting Irish Drunkards, Dartmouth Gestapo, Dartmouth Limeys, Dartmouth Wops, Dartmouth Camel Jockeys? Are you proud? Wait, maybe you should be. Are you upset? No, I think you're just too sensitive.

You don't think you should accept that? Well, I feel the same way. I want you to stop wearing what you think is a likeness to my identity across your chest. I want you to stop wearing what you think I should be proud that you're wearing. Because I'm not now nor will I ever be proud, honored or happy about that.

Sometimes I can't do anything but laugh. Maybe it's the sheer stupidity displayed or the attempts to insult my identity with words. Contrary to what you are probably thinking right now, I'm not sensitive. I'm one of THOSE people. I'm a person that wants to educate others. Sooner or later, the seed that I plant in your head will grow and it doesn't need watering from you. Let me demonstrate by sharing two stories that occurred the weekend of my graduation. If you think about them enough, I'll bet you'll think they're funny too.

The scene was solicitation of Indian-mascot shirts on Main Street in June of 2001. A couple stopped to look at these shirts and ponder purchase. I recall saying something about a waste of good money loud enough to be overheard. A conversation ensued, with the gentleman ending his part by stating that I must not be proud of who I was if I didn't want to wear an Indian mascot shirt. That has got to be THE funniest thing anybody has said to me. His wife was trying to find out what was so upsetting about such a shirt, as she herself claimed to have Native American heritage and she would be proud to wear that shirt. The outcome was no sale.

This same day, family members of mine walked up to this shirt pondering purchase as well. I walked up and told them not to waste their money on something that was offensive to not only part of my identity but to that of many others. I was told to stop harassing the customers. Guess who was surprised when I identified the customers as my family? You might be able to use your imagination and figure out why the jaws dropped. Dare I say a seed has been planted?