Fighting Whites

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University of Northern Colorado Fighting Whities intramural basketball team

The Fighting Whites (alternatively identified as Fightin' Whites, Fighting Whities, or Fightin' Whities) were an intramural basketball team formed at the University of Northern Colorado in 2002 and named in response to the Native American mascot controversy.[1]

The intramural college team briefly attracted a storm of national attention because of its satirical protest about stereotypes of Native Americans being used as sports mascots, particularly the "Fightin' Reds" of Eaton High School in Eaton, Colorado, not far from the university in Greeley. The Reds' mascot has been described as "a caricature Indian with a misshapen nose, [wearing] a loincloth and eagle feather".[2]

The intramural team, which included players of Native American, white, and Latino ancestry,[3][4] adopted the name "Fighting Whites", with an accompanying logo of a stereotypical "white man" in a suit,[5] styled after advertising art of the 1950s, as their team mascot. The character has been described as a man from the Ozzie Nelson era[6] or a "Father Knows Best white American male".[7]

At first, the team's T-shirts used "Fightin' Whites" as the name of the team, but various media reports referred to the team as the "Whities" instead of "Whites".[8] The plan to insult whites in the same way the minority students perceived Native Americans being insulted backfired on the group when the team's popularity skyrocketed. In response to customer demand, the team eventually began selling shirts under both names. The team added the phrase "Fighting the use of Native American stereotypes" to its merchandise to discourage the shirts from being worn by white supremacists, and arranged for CafePress.com to handle manufacturing and sales of the clothing.[9]

The team sold enough shirts that they were eventually able to endow a sizeable scholarship fund for Native American students at Northern Colorado. In 2003, the team donated $100,000 to the University of Northern Colorado's UNC Foundation, which included $79,000 designated for the "Fightin' Whites Minority Scholarship".[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Johansen, Bruce E. (February 2003). "Putting the moccasin on the other foot: A media history of the "Fighting Whities"". SIMILE: Studies in Media & Information Literacy Education 3 (1): 1. doi:10.3138/sim.3.1.004. Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  2. ^ "In Fact...". The Nation. 2002-06-10. Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  3. ^ Pulera, Dominic J. (2006). Sharing the Dream: White Males in Multicultural America. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 328. ISBN 0-8264-1829-5. 
  4. ^ Williams, Dana (2003-01-23). "'Fightin' Whities' Cash in on Controversy". Tolerance.org. Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  5. ^ Ochoa, Julio (2003-01-29). "Fightin' Whites will donate scholarship money to UNC". The Tribune (Greeley, Colo.). Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  6. ^ Richardson, Valerie (2002-04-15). "Fightin' Whities more frisky than fierce". Insight on the News. Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  7. ^ Harjo, Suzan Shown (2002-04-18). "The real Fightin' Whities". Indian Country Today. Archived from the original on 2007-10-17. Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  8. ^ "'Fighting Whities' or 'Whites' Name Chosen By UNC Team". TheDenverChannel.com. 2002-03-13. Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  9. ^ Cumming, Anne (2002-03-20). "Fightin' Whities find way to handle T-shirt craze". The Tribune (Greeley, Colo.). Retrieved 2008-03-21. 
  10. ^ Ochoa, Julio (2003-01-29). "Fightin' Whites will donate scholarship money to UNC". The Tribune (Greeley, Colo.). Retrieved 2008-03-21. 

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