Native Americans Blast CBS for Racial Stereotyping

The San Francisco-based Native American Cultural Center wants to add racial stereotyping to the list of things the Federal Communications Commission should be cracking down on.

The organization has sent a complaint to the commission, and continues a CBS boycott, over a Grammy Awards performance by hip-hop group OutKast that, according to NACC Board member Sean Freitas, was "the equivalent of  white people dancing sexually in black face."

The perfomance featured "women in stereotypical Indian garb exiting a Teepee to dance provocatively in fringed skirts, feathered headresses and wigs."

NACC Chairman Andrew Brother Elk, who lodged the complaint with the FCC, told the commission that he felt the incident was "far more dangerous" than the Janet Jackson breast-baring, calling the performance rascist TV programming and saying "it sends the message ... that it is acceptable to insult racial groups and to commercilize their culture in the name of entertainment."

The group also demanded a high-level apology--CEO Les Moonves or the equivalent--and a list of explanations and remedial actions by CBS before it would call off its boycott. They included why it didn't use its new 5-minute delay to edit out the dancing.

Recognizing the importance of the November sweeps, the group has asked its members and supporters, particularly Nielsen households, to turn off the network or switch to another.

As of Saturday, NACC said it had received over 12,000 e-mails of support for its position.

Although CBS spokeswoman Nancy Carr reportedly told Reuters that CBS was "very sorry if anyone was offended," that didn't cut it with NACC.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.