The Internet is a wonderful, wonderful place.
It’s where people who have no idea what they’re talking about, can confuse or convince, those who are easily manipulated.
Today “researching” means going on Google and “fact-checking” can mean copying and pasting.
The Internet’s negative stereotypes that hurt people and considered comedy are reinforced. Ignorance runs rampant.
It’s 2015 and you’d think people would understand that not everything written on the Internet is true, but it seems common sense is still a rare commodity.
Today, however, I want to talk about cultural appropriation.
As a First Nation Cree, I have witnessed and experienced negative stereotypes, cultural insensitivity and racism first-hand.
Not every aboriginal person is a “drunk Indian” and not every Muslim is a terrorist. You can’t just paint a broad brush over an entire group of people based only on a few extreme cases.
It came to my attention that second-year journalism student Mat LaBranche wrote an article for Glue Magazine, on page 39, titled “Five ways to cure your hangover.” If you already read it, you might know where I’m going with this.
One of the “cures” was the act of “Native American sweat swishing.” According to our resident expert (not) on aboriginal ways and traditions, some Native American tribes, after a long night of drinking, would run around and work up a sweat then proceed to lick the sweat off their own bodies, swish it around in their mouths and spit it out.
I’ll just let that sit with you for a while.
Angry yet? Good. Let’s get back to the situation at hand.
First of all, after intensive research, I could not find anything about the act of Native American sweat swishing that had concrete evidence. And no, I didn’t just Google.
Secondly, the entire article only reinforces the negative stereotype of the “drunk Indian” and does nothing but cause grief and dehumanize my people. Since its publication, the article has hurt many friends and family of mine here at Algonquin.
Finally, I found a Gizmodo article that referenced a BBC article about the same topic. The BBC article states that “some people” believe that Native Americans sweat swish, which is not proper sourcing. You’d think that someone who spent nearly two years learning journalistic skills would realize this.
Unfortunately, that was not the case.
When I first read this article I was hurt and, for lack of a better word, pissed-off.
But I came to a realization that violence isn’t the solution – it’s educating the ignorant.