Is “savage” a marketing term, or just more oppression?
It shocked me to spot a poster in Galeries Aylmer (also in display cases across Quebec) of an Indigenous woman wearing the label “savage”. Remember when the American H&M company got flack for using a cute black child-model to wear a sweater that said “coolest little monkey”? Well, putting an Indigenous woman in a sweatshirt labelled “savage” in Canada is worse. Doesn’t it make everyone cringe with its insensitivity?
We have thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous women today, with the killers devaluing their lives as “savages”.
To me, it counts as “Internalized oppression” when a Mohawk company adopts this genocidal word, assigned to an entire population. Can a word really be reclaimed, paradoxically, as a weapon, to ‘beat the colonial bastards’, by throwing it back into their faces?
But when a marketing group wants to use “savage” to describe the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) -- isn’t this internalized oppression, similar to how musicians/rappers adopt the word “Nigger” for themselves, to use with their gangster-image, as a badge of honour?
However, this clothing line is not exclusive to MMA sport. It’s available to the public. Won’t this flash pain over everyone? I feel the word “savage” cannot and should not, ever be neutralized.
The owners of the Savage clothing line originate from the Mohawk territory of Kahnawake. They’ve laid low on the Savage brand after the controversy created by their T-shirts five years ago. Now they are relaunching a Fall collection to bring it back for 2020.
I feel this is a gut-wrenching issue, demanding public awareness and pressure to counter any example of normalizing racism. What are your thoughts?
Charlotte A. Young,