My American Lit class semi-recently picked up the text There There by Tommy Orange (review pending). The prologue of the book lays the historical foundation for a novel following several Native American characters as they gradually drift towards converging at The Big Oakland Powwow.
A section inside the prologue discussed our brutal history with Natives, particularly the common practice for early settlers to decapitate or remove limbs from Indigenous Americans, and carry them around like trophies. There’s some masterful writing here I won’t even attempt to replicate but the juxtaposition that Orange poses is powerful; the idea of keeping heads like souvenirs and the iconography of Natives on sports uniforms–or as some of you might just remember–the Indian head test pattern.
“We have all the logos and mascots…our heads are on flags, jerseys and coins.”
Orange, page 7
This sparked a rather interesting class discussion about people being mascots in general. In recent years you can find any number of articles about a cultural reckoning taking place in suburban high schools across the country. Sports teams named the Chiefs, Redskins, Mohawks, or simply just Indians exist in alarming numbers. This phenomenon is so extensive that there’s a hefty Wikipedia article dedicated to sports teams and mascots derived from Native tribes or cultures, not just within high schools but professional teams across the US.
March this year feels odd. There is a sense of maturity and growth I think we all feel after 12 months of lockdown and quarantine to varying degrees , and yet somehow I have the most uncomfortable sense of nostalgia, or, more appropriately, deja vu about the whole thing. Even with vaccine distribution making significant progress worldwide, I feel like I’m in the same place I was last year. Granted, last year I thought coronavirus just meant two week vacation. Nobody was really as worried as we should have been last March. You could make the argument that even today there are still some people who aren’t taking the pandemic as seriously as they should be.
Fifteen seasons of Criminal Minds have prepared me for this story.
‘Going to Meet the Man’ by James Baldwin takes place in 1960’s America during the reign of the Jim Crow characterization and its corresponding legislation. The short story follows Jesse, a policeman, through a series of memories in which he fantasizes about burning black people’s homes and terrorizing them in general
This post is a response to the short stories The April Witchand All Summer In A Day by Ray Bradbury for my genres class. If you haven’t already, I recommend reading them. Links are attached for your convenience.