Below, I will address the claims made in the above comments.
Before I do this, though, I want to make something clear about what I wrote in this column. In the above comments I read that I called people racists or that I resorted to personal attacks. This column did no such thing. I wrote, “I believe that for a white person to host a party themed “Cowboys and Indians” is racist.” No where in this sentence does it state that I believe that someone who holds this party is racist. I wrote that the ACTION of holding this party is racist. If we break down the above sentence, the subject is “to host a party,” which is an action.
This is a subtle distinction, but one that needs to be made. I don’t believe that calling someone racist does any good, as we are all affected by institutional racism and prone to racist acts when we do not think critically about our actions.
Nor was this meant to be a personal attack: I was not attacking the personhood of who hosted this party or the people who attended. I was attacking and critiquing an ACTION. It is imperative, I believe, to keep this distinction in mind.
Michael Faris, a friend, fellow Iowan, hero, and gym partner of mine has written an amazing letter – “An Open Letter to My White LGBT Siblings.” The letter was initially published in the Oregon State University student-run newspaper – The Daily Barometer. The comments on the newspaper’s website to Michael’s letter have ranged from the bizarre (saying that Faris is a homophobe is like saying that I hate Star Wars), the ridiculous (one commenter seemed to think that because Michael’s letter was well-written that he must have used a thesaurus…umm Michael’s formal training is in writing, of course his letter is at a high level of articulate awesomeness), and the banal (the trolls brought along their dusty suitcases of unoriginality for most of their comments).
Here’s a brief snippet of the letter. Feel free to travel the info pipes to Michael’s blog for the full read…
And your party, asking folks to dress up like caricatures of Native Americans, is perpetuating the historical representations of racist images created and perpetuated by white society.
I am sure that you would say your party is ironic, that you knew these representations were racist, but you did it out of absurdity. I would reply that you are refusing to deal with your white privilege.