I do not get this routine from the Philadelphia Mummers parade. It seems to involve some people dressed as Native Americans and some as East Indians, a call center, a tepee and some commentary about outsourcing. It could, perhaps, be taken as a comedic statement. It could be taken as an appropriation cultures and a way to teach the kids involved stereotypes. Then again, comedy relies a lot on stereotypes.
Staying home with my daughter today since school is cancelled, I watched her do her own dance steps to The Fresh Beat Band. I got to see her combine moves from ballet and tap and jazz class, hip hop breakdancing spins learned at preschool, gymnastics moves improvised using my knees as uneven bars, and choreography from the Fresh Beat Band Show–the song being played “Twist and Shout.”
Not only was it fun to watch, but to stretch things a bit it was great metaphor for the mixing of different cultures and traditions into one uniquely American expression. It was just like a Whitman poem but presented by an energetic preschooler.
The Fresh Beat Band–Kiddie pop but good for inspiring hybrid dancing
The Red Raider Logo
Driving around the suburb where I live, I see many yard signs proclaiming that a resident of the house is member of a certain sports team. There are “Home of a Raider Soccer Player” signs, “Home of a Raider Field Hockey Player” signs and many “Home of a Raider Band Member ” signs. The school is the home of the Red Raiders so everyone is a Raider, except for one group.
Yesterday I saw a sign stating that one house was home to a “Raiderette.” A quick bit of research and I found that the Raiderettes are the dance team associated with the high school marching band. Why are they Raiderettes rather than the Dancing Raiders? If female athletes and musicians are Raiders, and male athletes and musicians are Raiders, why are female the dancers “-ettes”?
This use of the suffix demeans those to whom it is affixed because it assumes that the male, without suffix, is normal, and the female is a modified, lessened version of the norm. For a parallel, think about how absurd it would be to call Condoleezza Rice or Hillary Clinton the Secretary-ette of State, or to say that Marissa Mayer is the new Chief Executive Officer-ette at Yahoo.
There is something of a history in the realm of marching bands and associated groups to call those twirling batons majorettes, but that formation is still a diminished form of major, as in drum major. This is particularly true if the band members are all band members, with no distinction between male band members and female band member-ettes. Why is it that certain female band members performing certain activities are branded with the diminutive?
In the realm of world issues, the existence of the Raiderettes is not a particularly weighty one, but the use of the diminutive ending does bother me due to its implications. Perhaps the best solution would be to move to another town where the team is the Hornets, a name which makes the attachment of -ette virtually impossible.
This artistic, powerful video inspires me when I watch it. The moves are great, especially what he does with the crutches. The way he uses the crutches as part of his performance really says a lot about taking a supposed disability and making into an opportunity for art and life.