While some scoff at the idea that the racial slur Matt Lauer used on Monday morning's Today is offensive, it sounds like plenty of Native American's would say otherwise.
In fact, here's what Jacqueline Pata, Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians, had to say:
"Matt Lauer of NBC’s Today, an international media personality, made irresponsible comments on the global stage of the 2012 Olympic Games when he used the phrase 'Indian Giver.' These comments were not in the spirit of the Olympic Games, nor civil discourse."
It seems that a lot of people don't know WHY this phrase would be considered offensive to the Native American community. Hopefully Pata's words will enlighten them, as she continued:
"Mr. Lauer’s misinformed choice of words reinforces archaic and hurtful racial stereotypes that date back to colonial America. Early commerce between tribal nations and colonial settlers required the value of goods exchanged to be of equal or greater value, or the trade was not deemed acceptable. Some colonial traders who did not uphold this ethic used this phrase to discredit tribal nations and Native traders. Now, the pejorative phrase has become associated with a person who takes back a gift. This misrepresents the original and modern cultural values of Native Americans, based on fair trade, sharing, and empowering those around them."
All is not lost though! He may have made an ignorant comment on the global stage, but he can use that podium to educate people. Pata concluded:
"Matt Lauer can still have his great Olympic moment and exhibit true Olympic spirit by educating NBC’s global audience about the important place of Native Americans in society and sports. Like so many athletes are doing every day in London, we hope he rises to the moment."
So do we!
There are plenty of homophobic and racist slurs that were once used in regular conversation. Thanks to heightened awareness,
all MOST of us have become a little more sensitive to the fact that what means nothing to us may mean a heck of a lot more to somebody else!
Tags: executive director of the national congress of american indians, indian giver, jacqueline pata, matt lauer, nbc, offensive, racial slur, today show