Smile Politely

Here is footage from the protest against the “Chief” at the Homecoming parade

Earlier this week, it was announced that the “Chief” would be appearing at the Homecoming Parade tonight, despite the University of Illinois taking a supposed hard line stance against its specter and the past it carries with it. 

As was reported, The Honor The Chief Society applied to participate, and was granted permission by the board that oversees the sponsoring organization that promotes and executes the parade. 

The Chancellor’s office received multiple letters of concern, one of which came from the Illinois Student Body President Raneem Shamseldin, whose organization later voted to boycott the event because of the “Chief” appearing at the parade. 

As planned tonight, roughly 150 people or so shut down the parade route for the automobile carrying Chancellor Robert Jones.

Here is that footage, along with some interviews and discussion about the events surrounding the protest, courtesy of Protagonist Pizza Productions:  

No matter your position on the “Chief” and the long shadow it casts, it continues to be a source of intense division in this community. That sentiment has spread to all corners of the country, because of teams such as the Washington Redskins, Cleveland Indians, and more. All of them, unwilling to back down. All of them, unable to accept that the voices of the Native American population had been stripped of its agency hundreds of years ago, and continues to be ignored to the day. 
UIUC spokesperson, Robin Kaler, sent an email in response to multiple inquiries this week about the Chancellor’s office ultimately allowing the Chief to appear. In it, she is quoted as stating: 
“The group has the right to participate in the parade and this entry is similar to ones in past years. Parade participation is open to entries from the entire community. We cannot restrict participation based on the content or message of the floats or entries without violating the rights of free speech and expression of these individuals.”

If I may… this is where I call complete and total bullshit. Point by point: 

  1. No, they don’t have the “right” to participate. They have the privilege of doing so. 
  2. The entry is similar, but just earlier this year, Chancellor Jones was quoted about his decision to end the use of the “War Chant” song at Illinois games by saying “”not everybody agrees that the music is appropriate, and it’s offensive to some people.”
  3. Parade participation can absolutely be restricted. To claim that it cannot is a baldface lie. This is 100% untrue. 
  4. Choosing to allow and disallow submissions for a float is not a First Amendment issue. By this line of thinking, it would be permissable for Illinois to allow a Neo-Nazi float. There is no possible scenario in which this would be allowed. 

It is clear to me, and many others by now, that the administration at the University of Illinois is simply doing more damage by allowing more time to pass with each semester that they “allow” the Chief to appear at any event that is conducted on University property.

I am all for free speech. No one is telling anyone that they cannot express those positions. But what they cannot do is shove hateful behavior into the faces of people on this campus and in this community. And that is the consensus about what this is by Native American organizations across the entire country. Even with the most closely related direct descendents of the Illini Nation

The expectation that Robert Jones and Timothy Killeen will step up and eradicate this dark stain on our community’s history once and for all, is hitting a fever pitch. How they choose to execute the next step will likely impact their legacy during each of their tenure.

They would be wise to seek the advice and counsel from the Native American House on campus, who represents the (very small) student body of actual Native Americans. They have been outspoken, have asked for them to step in, and they are continually ignored.

We will continue to post images that best showcase the similarities and analogies between the Chief and other cultural appropriations that are fundamentally offensive and racist. Here is that image, which is sponsored and promoted by the National Council of American Indians: 

There is no difference.

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