Cultureball: The Problem with Heritage Nights

The Giants' "Native American Heritage Night" June 23 certainly came with the best intentions: a pre-game ceremony, traditional dances, and a special-edition Native American-themed Giants T-shirt.

But when two Native American fans were forcibly ejected for protesting a fake headdress, the night went hopelessly awry. News of the incident quickly percolated through social media, generating fierce criticism of heritage nights in general. Skeptics openly wondered whether the team was celebrating Native American culture or trying to commercialize it.

In fact, it wasn't the first time that a Heritage Night promotion had produced a major gaffe.

Six years ago, the Giants celebrated African-American Heritage Night with an accidental homage to Jim Crow, cordoning off a special section for black fans. According to the oblivious press materials, it was "a great chance to show your enthusiasm not only for your baseball team, but for your culture as well."

That includes ethnic cultures celebrated during such as Filipino Heritage Night (Aug. 16) and Irish Heritage Night (Aug. 27), but there's also those drawn together by circumstance, recognized for example during Peanut Allergy Friendly Day (July 30).

Next up, though: Jewish Heritage Night on July 28 includes a mezuzah (sacred verses hung upon your doorpost with a bonus Giants logo), building on a long line of Giants-themed Jewish curios. (In past years, the Giants handed out yarmulkes and rabbi bobble-head dolls.)

No idea whether Hasidic beards will be provided.

 
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