In an age when Republicans seem to think the biggest problem facing our country is “political correctness,” one of the least politically correct town seals is under some major scrutiny.
The village of Whitesboro in Upstate New York has only 3,000 residents, but its seal is making national headlines because it depicts a white person strangling a Native American – really. Here it is:
On Monday, residents will take to the polls to determine whether or not to keep the seal. According to the Huffington Post:
‘There’s been this nationwide controversy over the logo, and it was time to put it to the residents,’ Whitesboro Village clerk Dana Nimey-Olney said in a phone interview on Friday.
‘There’s no better way to be a democracy than that,’ she said.
Believe it or not, the seal used to be even worse. In previous seals, the white man had his hands around the Native American man’s neck instead of on his shoulders. Still, the Native American man is depicted as being in a lot of pain, almost to the point of collapsing.
While no one has voted yet, there’s a good chance the town will vote to keep the seal. The village is 94.3 percent white with just five Native American residents.
It’s only been a few hundred years, but slowly, Americans are coming around to the fact that Native Americans aren’t villainous cartoon characters. Some cities and states are beginning to come around and change offensive names, but many, like the Washington Redskins, refuse.
The National Congress of American Indians has this to say about the mascots:
Specifically, rather than honoring Native peoples, these caricatures and stereotypes are harmful, perpetuate negative stereotypes of America’s first peoples, and contribute to a disregard for the personhood of Native peoples.
As documented in a comprehensive review of decades of social science research, derogatory “Indian” sports mascots have serious psychological, social and cultural consequences for Native Americans, especially Native youth. Of today’s American Indian and Alaska Native population, those under the age of 18 make up 32 percent, and Native youth under the age of 24 represent nearly half, or 42 percent, of the entire Native population.
Most concerning in considering negative stereotypes of Native people, are the alarmingly high rates of hate crimes against Native people. According to Department of Justice analysis, “American Indians are more likely than people of other races to experience violence at the hands of someone of a different race.”
One can only imagine the psychological impact of living in a town whose seal is literally a picture of a Native American man being strangled.
Featured image via video screen capture.