Controversy on Michelle Williams’ Native American Photo

So I came across this, which refers to this, which is a post by a really pissed off and offended person named Ruth Hopkins.  She’s really mad that the actress Michelle Williams is on the cover of a British magazine dressed like a Native American (or maybe I should say American Indian, which is the term Ms. Hopkins uses).

All kinds of asses have had fires lit under them by this!  Mine remains normal temperature, though.  I don’t get it.  I’m a big believer in educating people on the history of minorities’ struggles especially in America where we sweep so much under the rug, and while some stereotypes are fairly harmless, many contribute to and cause real harm.  Racism is something we should all take very seriously, and…well, “pass the word”, so to speak.  When we learn something, pass it on.  That’s how we educate (schools certainly didn’t back in my day, I don’t know how well they’re doing these days).

the source of the brouhaha

the source of the brouhaha

So I think there is genuine education that Ms. Hopkins can bestow upon the masses (I recommend reading what she says about L. Frank Baum), and a tad bit is mentioned in the article.  Unfortunately, the focus is a raging rant about the photo, which makes sane people not want to read the entire thing – she goes so far as to call the photo “redface” and compares it with “blackface”, which IMO is pretty offensive to blacks and anyone else offended by blackface.  (I’m not using the term African American because that’s presumptuous – many blacks in America aren’t African Americans and don’t like being referred to as such.)  We have a well known history of how “blackface” was used in this country, and what it looks like.  No one knows what “redface” is, and I wonder if Ms. Hopkins coined the term for hyperbole.

Anyway, there’s the photo above, and you can decide for yourself.  Below is a comment I left on the blog (parts of which I could have written better to make my point; the part about Baum’s & Williams’ connection wasn’t meant to imply her intent, I was just trying to say that sort of information would be more…informative).  I’m not interested in going back to “discuss” because I know I’ll be skewered by the self-righteous blowhards who are so prevalent on the internet, who just like to yell, accuse, bully, name-call, finger-point, whatever, while proclaiming and trying to shove their own superiority down your throat.

But they always seem to forget to make a valid point, for some reason.  I have better things to do with my time.  Like writing my own post about my thoughts on the matter….

P.S.  I think Ms. Hopkins may be saying that The Wizard of Oz must be removed from Earth.  That is, if you extrapolate from the logic she’s using in terms of Michelle Williams and Baum’s work & racist history.

Meanwhile, does Ms. Hopkins, or any of the other people outraged over this photo, have documentation as to Michelle Williams’ ancestors?  Her DNA?  Her Ancestry.com site?  Anything?  For all we know, she could be 8/10 American Indian, and be celebrating her heritage.

le comment:

Firstly, I have no idea whether Williams is or isn’t aware of Baum’s history, but I certainly wasn’t, and I’d bet the vast majority of Americans aren’t.  Does this kind of history mean that no actor or other performer can ever partake in any works by any American historical person who had a racist history?  If so, then the arts in America had better come to a screeching halt.  All Fords must be set on fire and production stopped immediately.  We learn from the past but we can’t let it control our present or future, or it “wins”.  Your point would be much better made if you focused more on the educational aspects rather than a photo, which detracts from your very valid and important points about Baum & his history, and Williams’ connection.

I’m a member of a minority race, and wouldn’t be offended if a white person dressed up as a person of my heritage for a magazine photo, so long as the intention wasn’t to portray my race in a clearly negative or derogatory manner, such as engaging in offensively stereotypical behavior.   In that vein, I fail to see the justification for the correlation between ‘blackface’ and ‘redface’, and do not see how this photo constitutes ‘redface’.  Forgive my possible ignorance, but I do not understand why this photo is offensive.  I understand that many do, but I do not.  

Unless, that is, it’s because she’s white.  In that case, perhaps the perpetrator(s) of “racism” should be reconsidered.

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