December 7, 2011

Duke, Our Racist Pilgrims, and a CSU Blowout.

After we got our asses handed to us by Ohio State, it seems rather predictable that Duke will take out any lingering frustration and embarrassment tonight on the poor Rams of Colorado State. And I look forward to such a cakewalk blowout. As I sit here watching the first half, however, I do not find myself admiring Mason Plumlee’s thundering dunks or the game’s blistering pace or Duke’s stifling defense; instead, I am mesmerized by this ridiculous editorial in The Chronicle.

By now, I am sure many of you have already read sophomore Nicole Daniels’s guest column. I have lived under a rock for the past few days – mind you, a rock filled with six court hearings, a 30th birthday party attended by a porn star, and approximately 86 pages of legal writing – but I heard rumblings about it. Thank god I didn’t have time to read it before now, because I would have been unable to control my urge to mock it and I really didn’t have time for such a thing. The full editorial is posted below in italics; my comments are in brackets:

On Nov. 19, I was looking forward to attending a party that Pi Kappa Phi was hosting that night on Central Campus. That is, until my friend nonchalantly texted me that the event’s theme was “Pilgrims and Indians.”

[I mean, from her very first words we know that she is woefully misguided and perhaps even a little confused. No one looks forward to parties on Central Campus].

The following is an excerpt from the fraternity’s email invitation: “In 1621 some crazy pilgrims had a pretty brutal harvest. Word on the street was they didn’t have enough food for half the bros in Plymouth. Then some hot natives came along with some extra food.… On Saturday, the brothers of Pi Kappa Phi will be honoring that party spirit. There will be a cornucopia of treats in our modern-day teepee. Tap into your inner pocahotness, wear a few feathers and party like you don’t care if you survive the winter.”

[Until the last sentence, the only things that bothered me about Pi Kappa Phi’s invitation were its grammar and punctuation. But the last sentence? It riled me. It made me want to go to the damn party. It reminded me of how much I miss college. I was already picturing what I would wear to such an event: a suede skirt, eye black war paint, a home-made wife-beater with some offensive/catchy phrase (i.e, “Christopher Columbus banged my grandmother” or “Use protection. Carry a bow and arrow”), and slutty heels. Clearly, I would work a feather in there somewhere, too. I mean, the last sentence of the invitation is why I normally think Duke students have an uncanny knack for wittiness. But then I kept reading the op-ed and remembered that some of us are douchebags after all]. 

Got tickets for the Plumlee gun show? (Photo courtesy of my teammate/pal, Chuck Liddy of the N&O)
At first, I refused to attend an event that sounded so derogatory toward Native Americans. The fraternity took on a terrible history of colonialism and genocide and turned it into a sexy party theme. The language in their invitation (“hot natives” and “pocahotness”) sexualizes the Native American race. Having learned the theme just hours before the party, it was too late for me to try and stop it. I ultimately decided that if I was going to criticize this party, I had to see it for myself.

[The fact that she did not know the theme of the party most likely means that Nicole was not personally invited. Burn. Usually for events like this, frats slip little paper invites under your dorm-room door (or send out an email). That isn’t the way all Duke frats work, but if Nicole was in any way connected to the boys of Pi Kappa Phi, she probably would have been aware of what was being planned for November 19th. I fondly remember organizing my outfit for Kappa Sig’s “Go to Hell” Party (where everyone dressed as something they wanted to go to hell. I saw everything from babies to police officers to boy bands to Mexicans to terrorists. I went as a big-boobed blonde). I bought lingerie weeks before the “Playboy Bunny” party.  I once ordered a Debbie Gibson “Electric Youth” t-shirt specifically for an 80s Prom.  And for the “Two-Piece of Clothing” party, I may or may not have won an eBay auction for snow pants (which I paired with a bikini top). My point is that these are things you know in advance. And my larger point is that most fraternity parties exist solely to sexualize something.  Not that this is something we should applaud, it's simply a fact. Nevertheless, I love that she wanted “to try and stop it.” It takes effort to be the Grinch that Stole Thanksgiving…and then say, fuck it, I’m going to this murder celebration anyway].

It was very disheartening to find my own friends there, dressed in outfits that epitomized an insensitive caricature of Native Americans. Hordes of my peers had faces covered in “war paint” and wore rainbow-colored feathers on their heads. The makeup and costumes I saw were both completely inaccurate and disrespectful. Headdresses and feathers have profound spiritual significance to Native Americans, and mimicking them is extremely offensive. A massive teepee stood outside the party, serving as a photo op for the obnoxiously dressed guests to pose with. Notably, teepees are specific to tribes in the Great Plains and never even existed in Plymouth, Mass. This incorrect and stereotypical dwelling endorsed the misconception that Native Americans have a monolithic culture. It undermined the reality that there are many tribes with diverse and intricate ways of life. If students want to celebrate “giving thanks” and unity, they should not mock and belittle an important part of our community.

[First of all, does Nicole not speak to her friends? Why is she so shocked by their racial insensitivity and gay pride headdresses? Yes, the party was totally offensive and maybe historically inaccurate. But it was a fucking party. It is not like these things happen often at Duke or anything. And yes, if you were wondering, I was the first woman who wrestled; I had to shampoo my hair three times with dish-washing detergent to get the baby oil out. God, I miss college].
The rest were simply too scandalous to post.
This party was bigoted and racist, and such an event would never be tolerated if other races were involved. Would Duke students attend a “master and slave” themed party where guests were invited to wear blackface? How about a party where students dress up like Nazis and Jews? Surely these events would trigger student objection and national media attention, and rightfully so. Yet “Pilgrims and Indians” did not faze Duke University. Students dressed up for fun at the expense of Native Americans, a race that was exploited and exterminated for centuries. The only props missing from the party were smallpox-infected blankets.

Based on the costumes I saw, it seems that Duke students see Native Americans as characters rather than as human beings. Beyond insulting Native Americans, this mentality is problematic because it fuels continued discrimination and hate crimes against Native Americans today. This mindset is especially concerning because there are Native American students at Duke.


[Holy shit, Nicole just jumped the shark. No one in Pi Kappa Phi thinks genocide is sexy. No one is celebrating the Holocaust or slavery. No one is promoting hate crimes. By this logic, the entire exaggerated affair of Thanksgiving – which inspired the kickass awesome holiday we get each November to eat our faces off and watch football – is a hugely offensive joke. Those construction-paper Pilgrim hats and feather headdresses I made in first grade? A travesty. Then again, I always knew the teachers at Wood Park Elementary were racist whores. Nap time was never as relaxing with those small-pox infested blankets].

Amber Richardson, president of Duke’s Native American Student Alliance, offered this statement: “When I learned about the Pilgrims and Indians party hosted by Pi Kappa Phi, my first reaction was nothing short of pure outrage. It is not only offensive, but deeply saddening that some of my peers have so little respect for Native American culture and identity. Unfortunately, I and many other Native Americans must battle this type of ignorance and disrespect on a daily basis. Because there are very few Natives on Duke’s campus, people may believe that there will be no consequences for these acts of insensitivity. I assure you that those who hold this belief are mistaken. The members of Duke’s chapter of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity should be held accountable for their actions. As president of the Native American Student Alliance, I will enlist the aid and support of the Native community and its allies in addressing this problem and preventing future incidents.”

[A truly shocking response from the Native American Student Alliance. Nicole Daniels? More like Nancy fucking Drew].

The president of Pi Kappa Phi did not respond to my email regarding this column. I certainly don’t believe Pi Kapp intended to be malicious with this party, but this kind of ignorance is inexcusable. Everyone who attended this party should feel ashamed. We are students at a prestigious university, and we should know better. As Amber Richardson told me, “[Pi Kappa Phi] is not the first to do something like this, but we will work hard to make them the last.”


[Good god, the twists just keep on coming. Pi Kappa Phi didn’t respond? No way!!!!!!!!!!!!!111one. But I mean, really. They are ignorant and shameful, what did she expect?]

Ugh, editorials like this are (also) why people hate Duke students. I usually raise my eyebrows at obvious racism or political incorrectness, but really? This was a frat party. If you are insulted, then don’t go. But don’t be a whiny bitch about it. Don’t go to a party to insult your friends, drink a few beers, and do some research for a subsequent column of rage. For all we know, she did the walk-of-shame back to West Campus after having one too many cups of Pocahontas Punch. Her lecture was ridiculous. There are greater things to be outraged about and, more importantly, way too many racist parties to attend.

Listen, I am no stranger to preachy op-eds written from a somewhat arrogant perspective of passion and morality. So, on one hand, I feel like an asshole for mocking the opinion piece. I feel badly for trashing another woman (other than Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, or Ann Coulter) simply for expressing her opinion, and I give Daniels major props for voicing her's in The Chronicle. It took courage.  That said, this was a party. Lighten up. You have to pick your battles in life, and I am not sure a Thanksgiving-themed celebration was the time for pitchforks and fireworks. There are so many other people to hate on instead of a bunch of horny, minority-loving, politically incorrect frat boys.
P.S.: Although I was distracted by the editorial, it seems that we also played a basketball game tonight. As predicted, Duke murdered the Rams, 87-64, much like the Pilgrims did to the Indians. (See, Nicole? It’s not like your point was lost on me). Andre Dawkins was a beast in the first half, with 10 points in the first ten minutes of the game and 15 overall. Unfortunately, in a super scary moment, he was knocked down with about three minutes left in the first half, and didn’t play again due to back spasms. It is like the basketball gods were punishing me for mocking a fellow Blue Devil throughout the first 17 minutes of the game. The Plumlees, especially Mason, had a series of pretty hook shots, alley-oops, and dunks. Ballhog Rivers was also terrific, as per usual. The second-half was never close and was more like a clinic than a Division I basketball game. All-in-all? No complaints other than the aforementioned Dawkins injury. The Blue Devils play again on Saturday and I have a hot date with Coach K and company in MSG. Can’t wait. Until then, have a sense of humor, do not insult the Native Americans, try not to be an asshole, and let’s go Duke.

6 comments:

  1. try not to be an asshole and duke frat boys? isn't that an oxymoron? and yes I agree with with fastball chick...that poor innocent child has no business attending any frat parties. plus she must be a total fucking drag. I think she needs to get laid.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love that no one is more outraged at the portrayals of Native Americans than rich white women. (And the NCAA.)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hilariously written commentary! Single minor regret in reading is that perhaps only 1/32 of the content was devoted to the wrestling in baby oil... how disappointing is that??

    ReplyDelete
  4. Funny thing: I can name all the muscles in Plumlee's arm. He's a freaking anatomy model. Cool.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Interesting post, I am so glad that I have visited your site. Such a wonderful time reading this.

    ReplyDelete