Its nice to see passion in the pages of Our Sunday Visitor for a change. But about crayons? In the April 25th Visitor, Colleen Smith tells us that the Crayola Company is changing the name of the color it has called indian red (the word Indian being denied a capital letter, for some reason). Delighted with the change, Smith informs us that the name is a racial slur. How so? Smith, who is white, reports that teachers complained to the manufacturer that students assumed the color referred to Native Americans, with Smith adding that in the ignorance of my coloring years [as a child], I assumed indian red referred to the color of American Indians skin for she had heard Native Americans called redskins. Well, does indian red refer to redskins or not? It doesnt matter to Smith, for shes sure its a racial slur a stinging label. Smith also informs us that political correctness has heightened our sensitivity to diversity, and so she tells us shes tickled pink by the banishment of indian red, which will increase awareness.
Ms. Smiths enthusiasm is duly noted. But in the interests of really increasing awareness, we feel the need to make it clear that Indian red (or indian red) has nothing to do with anybodys skin color. Even our politically correct American Heritage Dictionary confirms this, reporting that Indian red is simply an oxide used as a paint and cosmetic pigment.
Smith herself notes that the Crayola Company claims the colors name was based on a reddish-brown hue commonly found near India, which she doesnt dispute. And she allows that the companys choice of indian red back in 1958 was innocuously intended. But she remains unfazed.
At the risk of turning Smith red with anger, we must note that she simply hasnt demonstrated how indian red could be a racial slur. And far from raising our consciousness about an insult to American Indians, Smiths account inadvertently slurs Americas teachers. Can it be true that they are as niggardly (careful now!) with their pupils as Smith indicates? When all the Jacks and Jills across America first indignantly opined that indian red is an offensive term, did their teachers pass up the opportunity to show them the dictionary? Didnt they show Jack and Jill how, by looking up just one word, they can begin to enter a wondrous new world? Did the teachers really leave Jack and Jill ignorant, while only teaching them the dubious lesson that ignorance, organized into a letter-writing campaign, can induce trembling in a mighty colored-wax company?
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