Chief shirt distasteful

By Jean Mendoza

Last Saturday evening at a near-campus restaurant, my family and I were treated to a clear picture of just how much respect the supporters of the retired “Chief Illiniwek” have for Native Americans.

At a nearby table sat a bunch of college-age folks in orange T-shirts. The one nearest us wore a shirt that featured the copyrighted image of the supposedly-retired mascot on the front.

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But that wasn’t all! On the back of his official-looking T-shirt was an image of a big-nosed, feather-wearing, stereotypical cartoon “Indian” guy urinating on the letters NCAA. In other words, a depiction of public urination clearly associated with UIUC, in a family restaurant. Perhaps giving new meaning to the cheer “Go, Illini”?

The proud wearer stood up from time to time so everyone, including the little children in the dinner crowd, got a good look at the oh-so-tasteful picture on his back.

We’ve seen those shirts for sale in town, so this was not an isolated do-it-yourself bit of artwork. “Honored tradition” indeed.

Actually, the whole scene was perfect – behind the facade of “respect” on the front side was the belligerent in-your-face willingness to openly do something contemptuous, ugly and hurtful just because you can.

Jean Mendoza

Academic Professional