Adding Some Nuance to the Stupid Chiefs Kid "Blackface" Story (UPDATED)
My favorite dumpster fire story of the week, right behind Sports Illustrated using fake writers and robot content, is Deadspin going after the kid wearing a Chiefs headdress and “blackface” at Allegiant Stadium on Sunday:
You see the community note there on Twitter, or, excuse me, ‘X.’ The kid is actually wearing black on one side of his face and red on the other.
This child is not wearing full “blackface,” as you can see here:
He’s got half black and half red. Red is a Chiefs color. Red, gold, and white. Black is not part of the primary KC palette, but when you look at the Arrowhead team logo, the border is a squiggly black line. That appears on the Chiefs helmets and logo, though it’s probably more accurate to say that black is a secondary color. It shows up as an accent and is used on various pieces of Chiefs merchandise. You can decide for yourself whether this kid’s face is “team colors,” which is one of the things going around on social media.
What’s particularly on brand for Deadspin, which lost all of its good writers years ago and hired a bunch of scab replacements, is that the author, Carron Phillips, doubled down on the article and says the red facepaint actually makes things worse:
His stance, I guess, is that now the kid is doing blackface and redface at the same time, so he’s insulting African-Americans and Native Americans as a hatred two-fer.
But now to some actual, meaningful detail –
There are really two different things going on here. One is the topic of cultural appropriation and the Chiefs’ attitude towards headdresses. They are actually banned at Arrowhead Stadium, as part of a policy that was installed during the BLM wave of 2020.
Here are a few of those still-recent updates, straight from the KC website:
- While we have discouraged fans from wearing headdresses for several years, effective immediately, fans will be prohibited from wearing headdresses into the stadium.
- Face painting is still allowed for all fans, but any face paint that is styled in a way that references or appropriates American Indian cultures and traditions will be prohibited.
- Fans will be asked to remove any American Indian-themed face paint prior to passing security screening outside the stadium.
- We are engaged in a thorough review process of the Arrowhead Chop and plan to have additional discussions in the future.
The catch here is that this kid was not at Arrowhead Stadium. He was in Vegas for the Chiefs/Raiders road game, so the new guidelines don’t come into play there. Furthermore, the facepaint he’s wearing would probably be a judgment call if he tried to do half black and half red at Arrowhead. I don’t know whether or not this design is “styled in a way that references or appropriates American Indian cultures and traditions.” That’s a vague description that leaves room for interpretation.
The second thing going on is that Deadspin is blathering, again. I read the entire story (it’s still up), and it’s devoid of any kind of useful nuance or background information. It opens with an accusation that this kid “found a way to hate Black people and the Native Americans at the same time.” Then it turns into a generic screed about racism and the NFL.
There was probably a thoughtful and measured article to be written about this topic, but they instead do what they do, which is just barf out a bunch of liberal bullshit and press publish. Inevitably, all of the right wing outlets crush Deadspin in response, and we find ourselves stuck in another pointless battle in the pointless culture war. It’s all horse shit.
UPDATE 11/30/23 –
The Armenta family said they are part of the Chumash tribe, hailing from California, and used to live on a reservation.
“We never in any way, shape or form meant to disrespect any Native Americans or any tribes. The tribe we’re from doesn’t even wear that type of headdress. This specific headdress is a novelty piece. It’s a costume piece,” said the elder Armenta Wednesday on “Jesse Watters Primetime.” “That’s exactly what we had purchased it for and wore it for–not in any disrespect towards any Native Americans at all.”
“It’s been a whirlwind of comments coming even from other tribes, from tribal members. Some think it’s OK. Some think it’s not OK. It’s a 9-year-old boy supporting his team.”
It curious to hear the dad call the headdress a “costume piece.” It leaves the topic open for debate, which he alludes to when he says “some think it’s OK, some think it’s not OK.” I’m not sure if that sways anyone’s opinion, because I think the far left and far right are probably already entrenched, and weren’t going to shift their respective stances. Regardless, they would have been banned from entering Arrowhead with the headdress and face paint because of the new guidelines, native ancestry or not.