On Sunday, Indian Country Today posted 4 videos to their Vimeo Channel (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4), so you can take a look at those to evaluate the situation further.
- The House of Israel D.C. members were exercising their right to free speech at the base of the Lincoln Memorial. Over the course of the entire 1:46:18 video, they shouted almost every racial slur I can imagine. I don’t agree with it and I wouldn’t have engaged with them had I been there, but they’ve got the right to free speech.
- They were asked by a Native American man to tone down the rhetoric because there were women and children there, taking part in the annual Indigenous Peoples March.
- Another woman approached them and took offense to being told that Indian translated to ‘Savage.’
- A Native American Vietnam war veteran (not Nathan Phillips) approached the group of young black men and disputed their claim about the definition of Indians.
- Another woman (who seemed to be the mother of the first woman who approached the group) got angry, telling them that the devil is in them. They called her a ‘culture vulture’ among other things.
- At this point the Indigenous Peoples March was happening, as you can see in the video. They had a legal permit for that annual march, as has been reported. Another Native American approaches the Black Hebrew Israelites, also upset with what they are saying. The response? They called him an “Uncle Tomahawk.”
- A different group (this time white people) wanted to know where there is ‘hate’ in the Bible.
- At that point, the person shooting the cell video turned it towards a group of Covington Catholic students. They are showing up because they are supposed to meet at the Lincoln Memorial for their bus trip back home to Kentucky (according to what the student told the WKRC reporter).
- The main speaker for the Black Hebrew Israelites calls Trump a ‘faggot’ and calls the students pedophiles. He says black people and Hispanics can’t be Roman Catholics. They called a black man a coon and an Uncle Tom as well (along with several other things).
- At 55 minutes you see Nathan Phillips walking around as the Indigenous Peoples March has apparently wrapped up. The Black Hebrew Israelites are talking about white men breaking peace treaties.
- More and more students gather as they are waiting for their bus, but move to the stairs --- on the other side of the Hebrew activists.
- They start to do cheers to drown out the House of Israel D.C. (according to what one student wrote in text format to the WKRC reporter). The video matches that claim.
- At one point a boy runs down and takes off his shirt, which gets his classmates cheering. Nothing that you wouldn’t see at any football game.
- After the parade was over, Nathan Phillips noticed the Black Hebrew Israelites and the Covington Catholic boys making noises.
- He walked over (after the Indigenous Peoples March had ended … not during) while beating his drum and performing a Native prayer.
- The teens jumped around, smiling. Some perhaps mockingly. Some disrespectful. Others just having fun. Everyone will have a different interpretation of that.
- Overall, it seemed they were confused by what was going on --- unsure if Phillips was part of the antagonistic Hebrew group.
- The first time we see the now infamous CCH student – Nick Sandmann – was when he was clearly standing on the steps alongside his classmates.
- Phillips approaches a different student first, seemingly focused on him. That other student shrugs as if to say, ‘I’m not sure what’s going on.’
- Phillips continues inward and comes face-to-face with Sandmann, but doesn’t seem to be ascending the stairs. He just approaches him. Sandmann smiles awkwardly and seemingly isn’t sure if it’s a confrontation or not. So he continues to smile (perhaps smugly … again, open to interpretation).
- While that’s going on, the Black Hebrew Israelites are still shouting profanities at the other students closer to them. They, again, perform a school cheer.
- One of the other Native American’s in the group with Phillips gets into an argument with one of the students about U.S. land, dropping the F-bomb a couple of times. Sandmann motions to his friend, apparently saying ‘don’t argue with him.’ Some of the students seem ignorant to what is going on and the significance of the prayer.
- Phillips turns away from Sandmann and continues beating his drum, performing his prayer.
- The Black Hebrew Israelites regain the attention of parts of the crowd and yell more obscenities.
- The students’ bus finally arrives and they take off, happy to get out of there.
I think this was the convergence of 3 groups with different agendas, maturity levels, opinions and understanding of what was happening.
I saw some insensitive moments and some mockery.
I saw a group of Native Americans (perhaps trying to make a point of calm emotions) move into a crowd of students that was keeping their distance from a hate group.
- “He may have gone toward the students but to me it sure appears they surrounded him”
- “So the kids are on the sideline and there is plenty of room for Nathan Phillips to walk and then there isn’t because the kids surrounded him and start mocking him”
- “They are literally doing absolutely nothing but standing in one place. I see the Black men and Indian man getting in peoples faces and doing the exact thing that they claim others are doing to them but are obviously not.”
- “Oh, interesting, both groups are awful.”
- Anne Helen Peterson tweeted a photo of Sandmann and Brett Kavanaugh, saying: “One theme of the conversations over the past 24 hours = how deeply familiar this look is. It's the look of white patriarchy, of course, but that familiarity — that banality — is part of what prompts the visceral reaction. This isn't spectacular. It's life in America.”
- A comment in the Daily Mail coverage: "Oh yes, his slow moving dance as he gets closer to a rowdy crowd. That hoodlum of a Native, forcing his peace on these poor white kids. How terrible of him.
- A YouTube comment: “So the white teen Trump supporters are the victims….”
- A Twitter comment: “We shouldn’t be mad at racist white highschoolers because they’re “just kids” but Trayvon Martin and every other black teenager that gets shot is obviously an adult because reasons."
- CNN: Video shows a different side of encounter between a Native American and teens
- CBS: 2nd video offers new context to Kentucky boys taunting Native American activist
- Washington Post: Viral standoff between a tribal elder and a high schooler is more complicated than it first seemed
- The New York Times update: Interviews and additional video footage have offered a fuller picture of what happened in this encounter, including the context that the Native American man approached the students amid broader tensions outside the Lincoln Memorial
Should they be able to wear it? Absolutely. It’s good that they do. However, in a place like D.C., there are all kinds of marches that happen and opinions held by a variety of people. It’s convergence point of different ideas and that can sometimes lead to conflict.
You can know where you came from, be proud of the successes, learn from the mistakes and not separate yourself into a particular category. I see examples of the great American melting pot more and more on social media and in every day life.
Whether it’s mixed couples (of skin color or religion) getting married, black Americans at a Trump rally, males supporting female candidates, females voters not automatically supporting female candidates or white people marching in a black rights protest, it’s nice to see that we’re not segregated the way we once were.
The fact that people don’t fit into stereotypes as much as they used to should be a warning to everyone: don’t judge (especially quickly) a book by its cover.