"Tribal Princesses" at Toronto's 2011 Caribana Parade

Aug 11 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

A couple of days ago I posted a video at Sociological Images about stereotypes of Native Americans in video games, including the Hot Indian Princess. Though the video discussed video games specifically, these tropes are common in other area of pop culture as well. Dolores R. sent in a great example. Over at Beyond Buckskin, Jessica Metcalfe posted about the 2011 Caribana Parade in Toronto. This year the parade theme was Native America, including various sections such as Amazon Warriors, Lost City of the Aztecs, Brazilian Amerindians...and Tribal Princesses. Here's a Tribal Princess costume provided by one band, Callaloo (it's now sold out):

Jessica Metcalfe posted other costumes, such as the Native Apache:

A commenter on Metcalfe’s post takes exception with criticisms of these costumes and the parade theme, saying,

[This is a] celebration of historic alliances between African Diaspora peoples and Native peoples. In New Orleans, the tradition was a specific response to racist laws that placed Native and other POC communities in a common frame of reference. This tradition is almost 200 years old among Caribbean/Diaspora people in North America…you are making a tremendous mistake by attacking a part of Afro-Caribbean culture as if this was the same as an expression of White/Euro privilege.

So the argument is that this can’t be problematic cultural appropriation or propagation of the sexualized Indian Princess trope because it is part of an event meant to celebrate and recognize the histories and cultures of groups that have themselves been the target of discrimination and political/cultural exclusion. Certainly there is an important cultural and historical context there that, the commenter argues, distinguishes these costumes from, say, the current fad of “tribal” clothing in fashion.

And yet, that argument seems to discursively claim a right to represent Native Americans in any way without being subject to criticisms of stereotyping or cultural appropriation. For instance, the Apache were not a Caribbean tribe (though the Lipan Apache moved far into southeastern Texas by the late 1700s, coming into regular contact with Texas Gulf tribes). Does this sexualized “Apache” costume, as imagined by non-Apaches and sold to the general public, differ greatly from other appropriations and representations of Native American culture and identity as fashion statement?

This feels a little like a different version of the “But we’re honoring you!” argument used in efforts to defend Native American sports mascots — that any concern the viewer has is only due to their lack of understanding of the reason for the depiction of Native Americans, not because that depiction might be, in fact, problematic.

Cross-posted at Sociological Images.

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Lifetime Earnings Gaps, by Sex and Race/Ethnicity

Aug 10 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Dolores R. and Andrew S. let us know about the report “The College Payoff: Education, Occupations, Lifetime Earnings,” by researchers at Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, based on 2007-2009 American Community Survey data (via Feministing and Kay Steiger). Not surprisingly, higher education significantly increases lifetime earnings of U.S. workers:

But education doesn’t pay off equally for all groups. Women, not surprisingly, make less at every level of education than men do; in fact, their median lifetime earnings are generally on par with men a couple of rungs down the educational ladder:

Ah, but, you might think, women are more likely to take time out of the workforce than men, so perhaps that accounts for the difference. But the gaps calculated here are only for full-time, year-round workers and do not include periods out of the workforce — that is, this is the “best-case scenario” in terms of comparing gender earnings, and yet women still make about 25% less than men at the same educational level. When they include workers taking time out of the workforce, the pay gap would be significantly larger. The far right column in this table shows how much less women make compared to men based on the “typical” work pattern for workers in each educational category:

The benefits of education also vary by race and ethnicity, with non-Hispanic Whites generally making more at each educational level than all other groups, though Asians outearn them at the highest levels:

Though the authors don’t include a table showing the gap if you include workers who do not work full-time year-round throughout their careers, they state that as with gender, the gap widens significantly, since non-Whites are more likely to experience periods without work.

So does education pay? Undoubtedly, for all groups. But due to factors such as occupational segregation (especially by gender) and discrimination in the workplace, the return on an educational investment is clearly a lot higher for some than others.

Also see related posts on the gender gap in science and tech jobs, racial differences in job loss during the recession, unemployment among Black and White college grads, and trends in job segregation by sex.

Cross-posted at Sociological Images.

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