A Tribe Called Red’s “Caucasians” T-shirt sparks accusations of racism

A Juno-award winning DJ group has been accused of racism.

The First Nations trio A Tribe Called Red has apparently sparked calls for a boycott after one of its members wore a T-shirt that plays off the logo of the Cleveland Indians baseball team.

Promotional photographs show Ian Campeau (aka DJ NDN) sporting an ironic version of the Cleveland jersey that's been altered to read “Caucasians” instead of “Indians”. It also includes a white head with a dollar sign above it instead of the baseball team logo’s Indian face and feather.

According to a message Campeau posted on Instagram, at least one concert promoter has received emails calling for the cancellation of a show scheduled for June 13-15.

“So we're suppose to play Westfest next Sunday,” Campeau wrote. “The organizers have been receiving thinly-veiled threatening emails in protest to me performing. Here's one of them. This is my hometown. So disappointing.”

Campeau also posted a screenshot of one email allegedly received by the concert promoter. It reads in part: “I must take issue with you booking a racist, hypocritical band, A Tribe Called Red. If any non-Native band featured some of the song they do like Indian Girl, no doubt TRC member, Ian Campeau, who has been showing wearing a racist t-shirt, would be making a complaint to the human rights commission”.

In September 2013, Campeau filed a discrimination complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario against the Nepean Redskins, an Ottawa football club. Soon after, that organization changed its name to Eagles.

Political controversy isn’t anything new to A Tribe Called Red. During a February 2014 show in Vancouver, host Ostwelve shared these thoughts on oil developments in Western Canada: “Fuck the pipelines, stop Kinder Morgan, and while we're at it, fuck Stephen Harper.”

A Tribe Called Red promotional materials also include DJ Bear Witness wearing an unaltered Chicago Blackhawks hat and necklace. The email sent to Westfest calling for a boycott does not appear to have included complaints about those logos.

The “Caucasians” t-shirt is available at ShelfLifeClothing.com for $22.

Comments (92) Add New Comment
Can't believe they make a big sting of this crap now?
Like wtf is wrong with people, i would be honored having a name like that with a Professional sports team, and Cleveland Indians have had that name for over a 100 years now and they make a big stink about it now???

And to put Caucasians on that Tshirt is just horrible taste, that is racism and so poor.

Atlanta Braves is another Indian type name for a franchise, like why do they think they're being mocked? They aren't!!! It's insane how touchy some people are nowadays.
Rating: -665
G-Rock
"We've been doing it that way for years" is never a good enough defense on its own. Ever.

I honestly don't think the Cleveland Indians name is necessarily discriminatory - it's the cartoony, re-skinned mascot that is horribly outdated and inflammatory. Hence the (apparent) separation by ATCR of it from the Chicago Blackhawks logo.

The fact that you think the Caucasians shirt is racist and the Indians name/logo isn't is both hypocritical and hilarious. It's literally the exact same thing - same idea behind the nickname, same logo. The only thing that's changed is the addition of the dollar sign.
Rating: +450
Up north
Sounds like my boy G-Rock in peg
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Allegedly... perahps
"screenshot of one email allegedly received by the concert promoter"... controversy is good publicity. But I suppose there are some thin skinned, principled or naive people who took the bait. But seriously, who cares?
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Anonymous
Mawm, Grandpas been sending emails ag'in!
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Rating: +49
RUK
OMG, thanks for this article. It's unpleasant that they're getting these accusations but the shirts are hilarious! I have to hear this band!
Rating: +102
Sarah

If you don't get the irony, don't go to the concert. Respect to musical innovation and challenging the mainstream!
Rating: +148
@G-rock...
However you want to justify it, it's still racism. I'll be making sure they get boycotted from all of my friends.
Rating: -355
Tapwewin
NDN keepit coming , Tribe Called Red one of the best !!!
Rating: +88
Electric PowWow wowz my world
Love you DJ NDN and a Tribe Called Red. You guys are amazing. I've been wanting to see you live in Vancouver for years. The only good thing coming from Ottawa!
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Jordan W
I need to get one made for my table tennis team: the Richmond Chinese. For equality sake.
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HellSlayerAndy
How is his shirt racism?

Seems like a pretty accurate depiction of the Caucasian?
Rating: +114
The 88th State
These guys are good businessmen!

They know there's plenty of $$$ to be had in the grievance industry!
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Rating: -48
Colour Blind.
This is a nation that wants to pretend... it's colour blind, but it is not.
Racism is Racism.
This is not racism it's just good business and humorous provocation.
Not malicious at all.

A little "BroTown" goes a long way.

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Rating: +55
Captain Obvious
Everyone should embrace this - particularly in the photographic setting above. The contrast was meant to be very literal, obvious, and thought provoking - as is the shirt itself.
I am Caucasian, and am not offended or affected negatively by this t-shirt or its message. And neither should you.
It is artistic appropriation, and we see it everywhere.
What you should have a problem with is cultural appropriation of an indigenous people.
Maybe this sort of "offensive" logo should be used when/if franchises ever finally decide to change their mascots and names. After all, it would be incredibly accurate as to who backs the teams financially in most cases. Pay a little homage to the rich, white men who insist teams like The Redskins namesake and logo is a "tradition" (Dan Snyder).




Rating: +147
Nor Bright
I find it kind of funny. Who cares? I think they suck musically so it makes sense they are trying of offend - but as a white boy who has been told many times (by First Nations people) 'I don't speak to white people...' I don't care what they sing/say, etc. If they want to offend me they're going to have to use their intelligence (if they have any); as this sort of thing is tedious. My experience: Most First Nations are not a big fan of whitey - so this T-Shirt is really for them. My question is this: 'Why rise to it?' And as said, musically they're green/lame. To each his own. I wish them well (but they need to consider they get money from a White gov't to record, etc. But as said, they're not too bright.)
Rating: -144
Bob
I generally don't put up with bigotry directed at whites (or anyone else, for that matter) but this doesn't strike me as bigotry for the simple reason that the logo doesn't represent anything more than opposition to the actual team logo - which, in turn, is felt to be (and I agree) belittling to First Nations people. It's pretty clear that it's satire intended to demonstrate this. The context is obvious and the goal; similarly so.

Now, if it were an actual team logo intended to represent nothing more than the team, itself, then, yes, it would be a kind of bigotry. But it isn't so it's not. Ironically, this is a lesson many "social justice warriors" SJW (tm.) could learn from - intention (and the merit or fault it contains) is everything.
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Salty one
Hmm....The Merriam Webster dictionary defines Caucasian as "of, constituting, or characteristic of a race of humankind native to Europe, North Africa, and southwest Asia and classified according to physical features —used especially in referring to persons of European descent having usually light skin pigmentation." This is offensive? Now, if it read Cockasian - well...... And these guys call themselves A Tribe Called Red but none of them are red.
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Mona
Just because 'things' have been done a certain way for 'years' does NOT always make them right! Slavery was common for centuries....
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Sam
People need to chill. It's a fu***ng T-shirt...so what!! There are more important issues facing the human race, prioritize.
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