ONEIDA NATION HOMELANDS, N.Y. - Hip hoppers OutKast insulted American Indians with their show-ending performance on the Grammy broadcast Sunday night, and CBS allowed it. Both share culpability for a production number that reinforced stereotypes and undermined all of the good work being done in the entertainment industry to embrace and promote diversity and unify all people through music.
"The Oneida Indian Nation believes that music has the power to unite people and celebrate the diversity that is the strength of America," said Chuck Fougnier, Wolf Clan Representative to the Nation's Men's Council and chairman of the Nation's charitable foundation. "Performances like OutKast's during Sunday's Grammy broadcast undermine the entertainment industry's dedication to diversity and use racial stereotypes in a hurtful way."
At the end of the program, OutKast performed their hit "Hey Ya" against a backdrop of a futuristic Indian teepee. Singer Andre "3000" Benjamin came out in a headdress accompanied by scantily-clad dancers with feathers in their hair. These may have been costumes to OutKast and the producers of the show, but to American Indians they were the latest in a long line of insults, caricatures drawn from history.
CBS required Justin Timberlake to once again apologize for his role in the Super Bowl halftime show that ended in singer Janet Jackson exposing a breast. The network even installed a five-minute broadcast delay to ensure against anything similar happening during the Grammy broadcast. Yet, CBS had no problem with a production number that lampooned American Indians.
"One would hope that OutKast would be sensitive to the racial concerns of others," said Fougnier. "But we absolutely expect CBS to be aware and to act to ensure such hurtful images are not broadcast."
Ironically, the Oneida Nation sponsored a major Grammy-related event before the broadcast. The Oneida Indian Nation Foundation raised $10,000 for Oneness, a music industry organization promoting diversity.