To: Kweisi Mfume, Clayola Brown, Nancy Brown, Julian Bond, Charles Whitehead National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
From: Andrew Brother Elk, Native American Cultural Center (NAAC)
Date: February 11, 2004
Re: 2004 Image Awards
I am writing to you today out of concern over your upcoming NAACP Awards. It has come to my attention that the band Outkast has been nominated by the NAACP for six 2004 Image Awards. As stated by information provided on your website, these awards are a ‘salute to excellence’ for individuals and groups in art, culture, and politics.
You may be unaware of the recent controversy concerning Outkast. On February 8, at the Grammy Awards, Outkast performed a number using blatant stereotypes of Native American cultures. This performance shocked and outraged many in the Native American community, and many others in communities of color that have been the target of oppression in art, culture, and politics. My organization was called upon to organize a national protest and boycott of the offending organizations, including CBS, Arista Records, and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. We have filed formal complaints with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for the broadcast of racially discriminatory material on public airwaves.
More information on the offensive performance and the community response can be found on our website at: http://www.nativecc.com/CBSboycott.html. It can also be found a numerous Native American national news websites, hip hop websites, and message boards. Today alone over 40 radio stations around the country discussed the issues surrounding the Grammy broadcast.
We would like to discuss this situation with you directly. We feel that honoring Outkast in any way this year makes a mockery of the NAACP Image Awards and the very honorable and tireless work that the NAACP has performed for decades. Many of the responses to our efforts are from community members of both African American and American Indian heritage. This is an important time for our two communities to stand together in solidarity against racial stereotyping and offensive broadcasting.
We seek to have the NAACP join us in boycotting the responsible parties to this offense, who broadcast exploitative images into millions of homes in a premeditated manner. We also seek to have Outkast removed as nominees for the 2004 Image Award. Racial stereotyping, exploitation, and the appropriation of our cultural symbols for commercial gain are not representative of ‘excellence’, nor do these actions display a commitment ‘to advancing the participation of people of color,’ the very important stated goal of the awards. We hope you agree.
Thank you for your time and consideration of this important matter. My organization is committed to pursuing our actions so that all people, no matter what culture they come from, are not subject to the type of offense that Native Americans suffered on Sunday night.
Andrew Brother Elk, Chair
Native American Cultural Center