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Episode 240 — The Mohawk


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#1 July Diaz

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 09:51 PM

Phil Yu & Andrew get into whether the mohawk is indeed a racist hairstyle. Make sure to leave us a message about anything you think is racist at (323) 389-RACE.

#2 pterodactylcackle

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 08:16 AM

This is one of those cases where I think a basic Google/Wikipedia search worth of research could really help the discussion. What we call a "Mohawk" is a style of haircut that has been around in a variety of cultures for thousands of years, and as the caller said, the Mohawk tribe did not even wear their hair in this way.

The name is problematic, the origin of white people appropriating it is probably racist given they settled on "Mohawk," but the haircut itself is not unique to one source, so I don't think you can say cutting your hair in a particular way that a variety of unconnected cultures have used over the years is inevitably racist.

Still love the podcast, though. Keep 'em coming!

#3 pfchangs

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 12:08 PM

I hear British soccer announcers call it "the Mohican" when a player has it and that seems so much worse.

View Postpterodactylcackle, on 24 September 2013 - 08:16 AM, said:

The name is problematic, the origin of white people appropriating it is probably racist given they settled on "Mohawk," but the haircut itself is not unique to one source, so I don't think you can say cutting your hair in a particular way that a variety of unconnected cultures have used over the years is inevitably racist.

This is kind of how I feel about 'spirit animal' and karma too--they're super broad concepts that exist everywhere but white people use the names taken from a different culture (that they fucked over) to make them seem cooler/more exotic.

#4 pterodactylcackle

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 08:30 AM

View Postpfchangs, on 24 September 2013 - 12:08 PM, said:

This is kind of how I feel about 'spirit animal' and karma too--they're super broad concepts that exist everywhere but white people use the names taken from a different culture (that they fucked over) to make them seem cooler/more exotic.


I don't disagree. I think the caller was asking several questions, though, one being "is this haircut in and of itself racist," which I don't think is true. It's the reasoning and justification for it that makes it racist. It's not on the level of white people wearing Native American headdresses, for example, where there's just no way it's anything but explicit appropriation for aesthetic reasons.

#5 pfchangs

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 08:32 AM

word