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

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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.

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Can't believe they make a big sting of this crap now?

Jun 13, 2014 at 10:16am

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.

G-Rock

Jun 13, 2014 at 10:28am

"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.

Up north

Jun 13, 2014 at 12:20pm

Sounds like my boy G-Rock in peg

Allegedly... perahps

Jun 13, 2014 at 1:35pm

"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?

Anonymous

Jun 13, 2014 at 2:35pm

Mawm, Grandpas been sending emails ag'in!

RUK

Jun 13, 2014 at 2:51pm

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!

Sarah

Jun 13, 2014 at 3:13pm

If you don't get the irony, don't go to the concert. Respect to musical innovation and challenging the mainstream!

@G-rock...

Jun 13, 2014 at 3:26pm

However you want to justify it, it's still racism. I'll be making sure they get boycotted from all of my friends.

Tapwewin

Jun 13, 2014 at 3:43pm

NDN keepit coming , Tribe Called Red one of the best !!!

Electric PowWow wowz my world

Jun 13, 2014 at 4:13pm

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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