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McGill Redmen: U.S. scholar says name reinforces white settler society

Why do non-Indigenous sports teams steal the names and symbols of North America’s first peoples?

McGill University’s continued use of “Redmen” for its teams has many on campus grappling with that question. The name is considered an anti-Indigenous slur. When it emerged in the 1920s, the name Redmen was intended to describe the school’s signature colour, but many still find it offensive and point to McGill’s use of racist tropes over the years.

One expert says it is less about honouring Indigenous culture than reinforcing the view that white society has conquered First Nations.

“It’s the image of this historic Indian that white society defeated and bested and took his image as a trophy,” said Richard King, former Washington State University professor of ethnic and cultural studies. “It reinforces a vision of white settler society.”

King wrote the book Team Spirits: The Native American Mascot Controversy, and he’ll be speaking at McGill Thursday.

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In US, blackface far from a thing of the past

U.S. journalist Megyn Kelly got fired after she made comments on air that appeared to condone the use of blackface in Halloween costumes, a major backlash ensued, and she lost her NBC talk show.

The problematic custom dates back to about 1830, and so-called “minstrel shows”—white performers caked their faces in greasepaint or shoe polish and drew on exaggerated lips in a caricature of blacks.

David Leonard.
David Leonard

“Blackface was used to depict African Americans as not human, to justify and normalize and sanction violence,” David Leonard, a professor at Washington State University who has written extensively on the subject, told Agence France Presse.

“The history of blackface is one of violence, one of demonization, one of racism,” Leonard said.

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The Baltimore Sun

Shawn Vestal: Battling hate, one conversation at a time

The fall 2018 issue of the Journal of Hate Studies focuses on the resurgence of hate crimes and divisive rhetoric in the 2016 election. The journal draws papers and guest editors from universities around the country. One of the guest editors for the upcoming issue is David J. Leonard, a professor in the School of Languages, Cultures, and Race at Washington State University.

David Leonard.
David Leonard

“Academic work is seen as detached, as distant,” Leonard said. “But clearly, in our current moment, a special issue on the 2016 election—we’re right in the midst of it.”

He said the journal, and the Institute for Hate Studies’s overall work, is an attempt to connect with the larger community, in developing understanding and fostering communication.

“All the work I do and the work being done by the institute through the journal is trying to bridge between everyday conversations and academic research,” he said.

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The Spokesman-Review

David Leonard on “playing while white”: intersection of race and athletics in America

David Leonard

Dr. David Leonard, an author and associate professor in comparative ethnic studies at Washington State University, spoke about the intersection of race and narratives about athletes Monday, March 26. This is a topic which he wrote about in his most recent book, “Playing While White: Privilege and Power On and Off the Field.” This event was a part of the Sawyer Seminar Series, sponsored by the Penn State African American Studies department.

Leonard began the talk by explaining how he came to write “Playing While White,” which he said he “really started in 2012.” He said that he had been a writer for online publications, and noticed that he had written articles in three main fields: The intersection of whiteness and mass shootings, police shootings, and the Black Lives Matter movement, specifically, “black bodies being criminalized.” Considering this narrative combined with athletics led him to ask, “what sort of profiling is happening in our sports world?”

One central concept Leonard talked about is how white athletes are “routinely forgiven,” or “being afforded the opportunity of second, third and fourth chances.” White athletes, he said, are imagined as the underdog, and that translates to terms used to describe them, such as “grit, hard work, determination, perseverance.” He said that this profiling also, by extension, comments on blackness at the same time. “Playing while white means being described as the leader, being described as intelligent,” Leonard said, and that these aforementioned types of positive framing are not used to describe black athletes.

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The Underground

New book claims video games ‘perpetuate injustice’

David Leonard
David Leonard

Two professors are warning in a forthcoming anthology that video games and gaming culture “perpetuate injustice” and hurt “marginalized bodies.”

“Woke Gaming: Digital Challenges to Oppression and Social Justice” is edited by Kishonna Gray, a professor at Arizona State University, and David J. Leonard, who teaches classes on social justice and black studies at Washington State University.

“From #GamerGate to the 2016 election, to the daily experiences of marginalized perspectives, the ways gaming is entangled with mainstream cultures of systematic exploitation and oppression is clear,” Gray and Leonard write in the book description.

“Video games perpetuate injustice and [mirror] those inequities and violence that permeate society,” they continue, explaining that “video games encode the injustices that pervade society as a whole.”

However, while the book is premised on the contention that video games reinforce racism and sexism, it ultimately seeks to shed light on gamers’ strategies for breaking this paradigm.

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Campus Reform