NACC’s calls Monday for a boycott of CBS, Arista Records, and NARAS (sponsors of the Grammy Awards) were met today with swift and vocal support by many in the indigenous communities of North America. NACC received over 2,000 emails of support or copies of letters sent to the Federal Communications Commission and the offending parties by the end of the day Tuesday. One online petition was drafted by message board commentators at Indianz.com. Radio stations from Alaska to Florida have picked up on the story and are talking about racism on TV. Tribal leaders from Canada to the Northern Plains to Oklahoma and California have joined NACC in strongly protesting the circumstances surrounding the racist Outkast performance at the 2004 Grammy Awards.
Also on Tuesday, a CBS spokeswoman, Nancy Cann, is reported to have offered apologies “if anyone was offended” by the CBS broadcast.
Andrew Brother Elk, NACC Chair, who called for the boycott said this is not good enough. “First, there has been no formal response from CBS. It was just a comment reported in a paper. Second, an actual apology when it comes should be from Les Moonvies, head of CBS, and specifically address the outrageous racism CBS broadcast into millions of homes on Sunday. Third, CBS and NARAS and Arista Records need to explain to the country how this could have gotten on the air in the first place without someone saying ‘gee, this is offensive racism, it is not entertainment.’ Finally, all parties should think clearly about how to make amends to the indigenous communities of North America, since this program commercialized sacred elements of our culture.”
Brother Elk stated that even with an apology, NACC would continue to press for an FCC investigation of the TV incident, and if it appears that the offending parties knowingly broadcast racism, that NACC would demand penalties. “These costumes had to be sewn and the set had to be constructed. Some of the advance publicity mentioned Outkast’s planned performance. So it is going to be very difficult for anyone to claim they did not know this was going to happen,” he said.
NACC has also contacted a national ecumenical group of faith organizations and other ethnic groups that have been victimized by racial stereotypes to ask for their support of the boycott. “Don’t watch CBS, don’t buy Arista records, complain to NARAS, and tell ten people you know to do the same,” said Shauna Alexander, a NACC community member.
NACC continues to encourage parents, teachers, music lovers, and the general public to make direct complaints to the FCC and the offending parties.
Contact information is located on NACC’s website, www.nativecc.com.