Racist Editorial Cartoon Mocks Phillips, Native Americans: How Best to Respond?

Sometimes the best response to racism is to ignore it and walk away, declining to give oxygen to the fires of hate. Sometimes the best response is to try to calm the situation; that’s what Native American elder Nathan Phillips did when he tried to intervene in a racially charged situation between Black Hebrew Israelites and a group of Catholic high school teens near the Lincoln Memorial. (For background, see Indian Country Today’s news roundup).

And sometimes the best response is to speak difficult truths about what you see.

The question came to me recently in a group email where people where sharing their anger over an ugly political cartoon that mocked Phillips and Native Americans in general. Continue reading

Sandmann, Trump, and the Aversion to Apologies

It’s difficult to keep up with the roiling fallout from the standoff between high schooler Nick Sandmann and Native elder Nathan Phillips near the Lincoln Memorial last Friday.

We need to take a collective breath, peal away the perceived complexity of the story, and get down to a basic question: Why is it so hard to apologize? Continue reading

Trying to Make Sense of Nathan Phillips’ Saga

Trump Fans the Culture Wars Over an Encounter Between a Native Man and a Group of Teenagers, Calling Reports ‘Fake News.’ Whatever Happened to ‘Turn the Other Cheek’?

I’m trying to make sense of the senseless act of disrespect and intimidation that happened during Friday’s Indigenous Peoples March in Washington D.C.

By now, you’ve probably seen the video. It involves a group of mostly white teens from the all-male Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky and Nathan Phillips, a Native and a veteran. The youth were in D.C. for the anti-abortion March for Life rally; Phillips was there to take part in the Indigenous Peoples March. Both marches ended near the Lincoln Memorial.

As you see on the video, Phillips is surrounded by youth. He keeps playing his drum and singing. One youth in particular, junior Nick Sandmann, seems to block his path and smirk. The video created a national controversy and criticism of the school and the youth. Continue reading