In my grade 12 English class, I chose to do my “book report” on a Native Canadian Playwright: Tomson Highway.
I read two of his plays and a book by Heather Robertson called “Reservations are for Indians.”
I can’t really remember much about my actual report/paper part of the project. What do I remember is my presentation.
To start off my presentation, I showed the class a clip from a movie called “Smoke Signals” which is one of my favorite movies! The non-Aboriginal students didn’t get it. The Aboriginal students somewhat giggled in the back of the room (you know the shy, quiet giggle).
Even before showing the class the movie clip, I had them wear name tags. On these name tags I pre-printed racial slurs commonly thrown at Aboriginals, young, old, present, past…
I remember one girl didn’t want to wear the name tag. Her name tag read “pie face.” Her friends laughed at her. She said she didn’t “feel comfortable wearing a racial slur.” I replied, “Imagine being called that just by being who you are.” Another girl giggled at “blanket bum.” I explained the history behind “blanket bum.” She stopped giggling. Apparently, when I researched the racial slur “blanket bum” and “pie face” this is what was found:
1) Blanket bum: The “white man” infested blankets with small pox and distributed them to the Aboriginals for them to use and sleep with. Aboriginals frequently used blankets to sit on. Hence the term “blanket bum.”
2) Pie face: This represents the shape of the face. Some Aboriginals have “flat” faces.***
The information presented in this post relating to the racial slurs is what I remember reading in my research; I did not come up with interpretations/explanations. There could be many different interpretations/explanations available for either “slur.”
Sometimes, I just wish people can understand the effects of throwing a racial slur at someone, especially if they cannot change who they are (because they were born that way). Something like a racial slur sticks with a person forever.
***Please note that this is the information I found at the time. I would love to know if this information/article, which I remember word for word, I found then has any truth behind these racial slurs. Leave a comment to correct any information posted here.