Actress and comedian Kathy Griffin is facing a fierce backlash after she posted a picture of a mock-bloodied decapitated head of Donald Trump. CNN even fired her from an annual special because of the photo and announced Griffin would not be back to host their New Years’ Eve program with Anderson Cooper.
Although Kathy Griffin has profusely apologized, folks around the web continue to call the photo disgusting, vile, hateful, and over the top. People said that free speech has gone too far, and CNN is well within their rights to fire Griffin because it was just too repulsive. There was one article on USA Today that was even titled, “How Kathy united all of us.” Think about that for a moment: Somehow, according to the article, Griffin claiming the severed head of a very unpopular president united even his toughest critics and those who opposed his long list of hateful acts, erroneous policy, and outright hate speech toward a majority (people of color) in the United States. Somehow, now because of Griffin, we can all hold hands and sing Kumbaya as one? *big eye roll*
But yet, when I see Kathy Griffin holding the head of Trump, I think of one vile picture in particular. The one leading this story. The image of decapitated head of a Native. It seems that if you hold the bloody head of a Native (with a knife stuck in it at that), it’s called “fun and games” or “clever sportsmanship,” but when you hold the bloody head of Trump, it’s foul, vile, disgusting, and it “goes far.”
Imagine if this world (especially America) was just as offended at the dehumanization of indigenous people as they were with the dehumanization of Trump.
What would that look like? Well, first off, the Washington NFL Team would be sanctioned by the league, almost immediately. Not tomorrow or next week – today. Or yesterday! We would not have Native mascots. Those who sympathize with keeping disparaging, derogatory terms like “redskins” or “savages” would disappear. The smallest mention of pro-name keepers would be shut down.
But it seems we, Natives, don’t get that same support or even consideration.
We aren’t in the same category as Donald Trump, were less than, and guess what? Our lives don’t matter. That is the precedent that has been set today with this Griffin-Trump fiasco. What Griffin did was vile, but that does not make Trump’s life any more valuable than the lives of indigenous people and/or any other group in this country. Furthermore, I believe that if Kathy Griffin were a man, she wouldn’t receive the same backlash. She may have received the scrutiny, but she would’ve still been employed, guaranteed.
But again, this proves our point with Native mascots: if you aren’t offended by the white man holding the bloody “Indian” head and yet you are deeply offended by Griffin's actions today, you are what is wrong with America.
Amanda Blackhorse, Diné, is a mother and activist. She and four other plaintiffs won a case against the Washington football team that stripped it of six of its seven trademarks. Follow her on Twitter @blackhorse_a. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona.