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blacklist these UIUC businesses this Unofficial (and always)

Offensive imagery is a big problem on our campus.  That is, the entrenched white supremacy that formed and birthed my institution of higher learning resists erasure in powerful ways.  Each year we see a familiar slew of problems – in residence halls, some students hang Confederate flags and declare their southern pride; others, like the skinhead and ROTC student on the first floor of my friend’s apartment building (on campus) not only proudly displays a large Swastika flag and Nazi paraphernalia to all outside his window, but also blasts Third Reich-era music during weekend ragers (it’s okay, the apartment is “world war two themed.”)

Actions like these are rarely addressed, but they are at least generally frowned upon by administrators and students alike.  Yet an exception is made when it comes to the racist fake Native imagery around town, surrounding our school’s former mascot.  We in the Champaign-Urbana community constantly see the casual pardoning of blatantly racist bullshit when it comes to the Chief, whether we’re in class, out socializing, or just walking around campustown.

a display on the te shurt website

a display on the te shurt website, a t shirt shop nestled in the heart of campus

 

This trope plays out in particular around Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day every Spring.  What sets this holiday apart from the vast majority of banal student-coined drinking holidays across American universities – aside from Unofficial being invented by local bar owners instead of students themselves – is that many fiscally-minded students and community members take this opportunity each year to further a number of racist images revolving around the fictional Chief Illiniwek, our school’s former mascot.  T-shirts are sold and kitschy memorabilia distributed, all celebrating our school’s extremely racist and not-so-distant past icon.

Binge drinking isn’t healthy, but it’s honestly a personal choice, and it’s college, so you might not be surrounded by those who use alcohol responsibly, particularly if you’re a member of the Greek system.  But drinking aside, I stand with my fellow embarrassed university alumni and students who have had our inboxes flooded each year with unsolicited advertisements for Chief-themed paraphernalia.  We are embarrassed that while our university and various departments send us students emails year after year asking us not to participate in glorifying alcohol abuse for this “dying holiday,” never have the racist images that reemerge each March been publicly addressed.

UIUC's chief is a proud tradition of white supremacy

UIUC’s chief is a proud tradition…of white supremacy

My friend Ross recently asked his Facebook friends to give him the names of businesses in the Champaign-Urbana community who support fake Native American imagery so he can withhold his patronage from them.  Based off comments on that thread, I’ve created what I hope will become a running list of businesses, administrators, and organizations in the UIUC community who actively support white supremacy, settler colonialism, and anti-Native sentiment in the name of “protecting tradition” and propagating irresponsible and racist depictions of indigenous peoples.

In short, if you’re going to sanction and hallow white supremacy in the name of making a buck, we are not going to support your business.  Below are some of the places (and people) to avoid in Champaign-Urbana, listed along with their specific transgressions, if possible.  Without further ado, here are your neighborhood establishments to avoid this Unofficial, and always:

Bars

Legends – their website displays the photo of a man in a Chief costume and reads: “The Chief Lives On at Legends: Come see the life-sized statue commemorating Chief Illiniwek and other Illini legends.”  If being assailed by a polyester, life-sized racist costume behind a glass case is your thing, stop by Legends honor these Legendary acts of white supremacy and more with daily drink specials.

KAMS: Home of the Drinking Illini – so that’s the actual full name of the bar?  Not surprising.  If the place’s vomit-imbued atmosphere and dank fraternity vibe wasn’t enough reason to skip out, the large murals of the Chief displayed on the floor and wall inside and outside might be another reason.

Restaurants

TGI Fridays – a gigantic Chief mural is emblazoned across the wall of their restaurant.  The community considers them martyrs for keeping this up.  (UPDATE: this branch is apparently recently closed.)

Orange and Brew

Dos Reales – Chief paraphernalia on display

Zorba’s

The Ribeye – Chief paraphernalia and photos everywhere.

UPDATE: Kofusion. Apparently their on-campus location has started selling a Chief roll. Honestly, as a Japanese American, their sushi is gaudy and cut rate anyway. Head over to Sakanaya instead for a better deal.

Stores

Evergreen Tobacco – among other Chief products, they apparently sell this travesty of a shirt.  If you’re really set on purchasing expensive smoking products on campus, make sure to buy your cigarettes, cigars, hookahs, and weed-rolling shit elsewhere.

Te Shurta slew of fake Native imagery is mostly how this clothing business makes a profit.  Our school’s former mascot stands as a statue in the display of their store, half a block from the heart of campus.

T.I.S Bookstorean entire department of racist paraphernalia and merchandise is featured on their website and in the store.  A large picture of white men dressed as Native Americans is emblazoned on a far wall and a life-sized cardboard cutout (of white dude dressed as the Chief) is placed near the exit.

Realty Offices

Village at Colbert Park – they handed out Chief-themed shirts to advertise for their rental apartment properties last year.

University Affiliates

Office of the University President – has a Chief mascot displayed in a painting on his wall.

Our current Student Trustee – purportedly has a Chief flag displayed in his office.

Sports

The UIUC Hockey team – they have Chief insignia on each of their team/sweater polos UPDATE: apparently they no longer print the chief, though I have seen old Chief-themed polos THAT SAY UIUC HOCKEY TEAM being worn around the ice rink.

Football Games – do not. Do not. Do not go if you are triggered or upset by anti-Native racism.

UPDATE: Other

First Federal Bank in Champaign

* * * * *

Blacklisting these businesses is a good start.  Emailing the owners (especially if they’re corporate branches?) might be a good idea as well, in addition to informing them directly why they are no longer going to receive your patronage.

I know I’m missing quite a few.  What did I forget?  Fill me in here.  I will update this list as necessary – email suggestions to arealrattlesnake@gmail.com or leave them as a comment below; if the above information is inaccurate, let me know as well and I’ll update it with apologies.  If an establishment removes their racist image, I will remove them from the list.

19 Comments Post a comment
  1. dave #

    The Illini Hockey Club no longer has the Chief logo on it’s uniforms or sweats.

    February 12, 2015
  2. Austin McWilliams #

    Add KoFusion to the list. They recently started selling a chief sushi roll at their campus location.

    February 12, 2015
  3. reasonablesandra #

    First Federal of Champaign (bank)

    February 13, 2015
  4. Ti-Grace #

    how about “boycott” instead of “blacklist”? just a suggestion.

    February 13, 2015
    • yes! Thats what im trying to say. are they not synonyms?

      February 13, 2015
      • R K #

        Not exactly. “Blacklist” implies one is in a position of power and able to keep a specific person from receiving advantages or opportunities, especially to work. “Boycott” is an organized refusal to patronize a business. There are constructions where “blacklist” could work, but “boycott” is generally more applicable.

        Anyway, thanks for the list! You may have better results if you posted the public websites or customer-service contact info of these businesses, and possibly a template email that people could use to respectfully communicate their reasons for boycotting.

        February 16, 2015
      • thank you so much. Linguistic precision is important, I appreciate that. Will use boycott in further writing on this. I think those are wonderful suggestions as well and am grateful for the time you put into these…makes a lot of sense.

        February 16, 2015
  5. carrie #

    Where can we see your billboard? Kudos to you for doing this!

    February 13, 2015
    • The billboard looks like it was vandalized to make the point that the chief is a white supremacist tradition. I am not sure where the location is, the photo might have been around for a while.

      February 13, 2015
  6. Eva F #

    The Ribeye on Neil. Chief paraphernalia and photos everywhere.

    February 15, 2015
  7. John Smith #

    I think your shots at the Greek system and fraternities in this piece are not only unfair, but completely not needed for the sake of your argument. I agree with most parts of your Chief argument, and I am trying to educate myself more on the issue to understand both sides of it. I noticed also you didn’t use comments like this in your DI video, so I know they were made to just convey more of a point.

    Personally while reading your negative attitude in these comments, it made me think you believe that we are racist as a community partaking in this or since fraternities are disgusting why wouldn’t they partake in such racist activities. But considering I am part of the Greek system and have friends in other houses, I want to be one to say that as far as I see, majority of houses do not participate in the racist-shirt buying that comes with Unofficial. Most houses make their own shirts and in my past years here I have not seen 1 related to the Chief. Mostly shamrocks & other Irish symbols.

    Unofficial is a drinking-holiday meant for out of towners at this point. Your real problem should be with the obscene amount of high school friends that come into Champaign for this day who most likely buy a great deal of those shirts. I also know plenty of non-Greek friends who spend more time than myself binge-drinking and/or at Kam’s, I know that wasn’t the point of what you were getting at but I couldn’t help but be frustrated by the way those sentences were worded.

    From what I can tell you are very pro-civil rights, pro-everyone loving everyone as it should be and I respect that. But I feel as if its taking 2 steps back if you are going to take shots at a group like the Greek system for no apparent reason. Yes have there been members of the Greek community here at UIUC that have given us a bad reputation – plenty actually – but the people/houses who are not like that do not appreciate it when we are guilty by association. If you look into it, a lot of houses actually do great things for this community.

    I guess personally I think progress is best by being the bigger person, if the Greek System has offended you in any way I apologize, but I just didn’t appreciate these small comments in an otherwise thought-provoking article.

    I typed this also before learning about the Oklahoma University racist video by SAE. Again another black eye for the Greek community, but this does not and should not represent all college Greek community culture.

    March 9, 2015
    • hey, thanks for your comment. I’ve definitely been thinking through this over the past few weeks, and I think you’re onto something: not all fraternities are intentionally racist. While I really believe that white fraternities are not, for the most part, safe environments for people of color, I know that the “Good Greeks” really don’t appreciate being lumped in with the “bad ones.” As PHC/IFC Greeks are a privileged group for the most part, I feel I should be allowed to critique them, but surely I can do so in better ways, so I want to thank you for bringing that to my attention. I will do better in the future.

      There’s a print version of this article going out in a local paper and I’ve asked the editor to remove the line about drinking and the Greek system, so it doesn’t distract from my main point – if I made other jabs that bothered you, please let me know.

      I cannot defend the Greek system at UIUC in many capacities, but I can at least be fair and clear in my critique. I began to strongly feel this way after a few black friends of mine were kicked out of an all-white fraternity party for no reason other than their race and gender. It was in the same tradition of the U of Oklahoma video. And maybe that’s clouded my vision, but with this and a slew of other things it’s hard to see the other side sometimes.

      email me or message me, I’d love to chat anytime. again, thanks for sharing your thoughts here.

      March 9, 2015
  8. superwhiteandprivileged #

    Food for thought: how about we blacklist ignorant bloggers who mistake symbols with mascots, correlation with causation, and homage to traditions with white supremacy?

    August 30, 2015
    • thank you but no. i tried a bit of your food for thought and it was rotten, and i wish i hadn’t.

      August 31, 2015
      • anonymous #

        If you are able to show me how on God’s green earth Chief Illiniwek constitutes a racist symbol, I’ll have a taste of your terribly written blog. But until then, I’ll be at KAMS enjoying my college experience while you sit behind your keyboard and blame white kids for making your social life so shitty.

        September 12, 2015
      • that KAMS is your bar of choice really tells me all I need to know, brother. peace.

        September 14, 2015

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