I’m not into cancel culture, but it’s easy to imagine this getting 86’d.
Faith, South Dakota doesn’t likely have a lot going on.
As the state’s 135th largest city, it boasts a population of just over 400.
The median age is 40 years, the average household income’s $51,069.
Median monthly rent is $294, and the median house value sits at $87,000.
Oh, and the high school has an annual Slave/Branding event.
So there’s that.
Otherwise, not much to talk about.
Although, that last item recently garnered attention.
Set for April 26th, the auction — run by the Rodeo Club — has been held for decades.
How it works: A member of the club is “auctioned” off to a rancher in order to provide a few days’ labor. The bid serves as a donation to the school.
Accompanying the fundraiser: a pancake supper and a pie auction.
Please tell me there’s also a square dance.
Regardless, this year — possibly due to an ad for the event on Facebook — Legion Hall host Glenda McGinnis fielded dozens of fault-finding phone-ins from around the country.
The post going around social media for the event shows the Faith High School Rodeo Club hosting a pancake supper and a pie auction along with the "slave/branding auction," scheduled for Mondayhttps://t.co/8fqH8yQyoX
— WBTW News 13 (@WBTWNews13) April 23, 2021
As it turns out, some folks were aghast at — as Glenda recalled to The Washington Post — “how such a racist and hurtful name could be used in 2021.”
She thought callers were yankin’ her chain:
“I thought it was a joke. We have the event every year, for about 40 years now.”
I guess that shows you what a different time 40 years ago was.
The lady even got buzzed by a buckaroo:
“I…got a call from a local cowboy who said: ‘How’s this going down? It’s not right.’ I told him we weren’t doing anything wrong. And he explained, ‘Well, it’s how it was advertised that’s wrong.’ ”
Glenda — who’s vice president of the Community Action Club, which owns Legion Hall — never considered the slavery part a reference to the Old South:
“I didn’t even think of ‘slavery’ in racist terms. It’s just kids work for free to raise money for their club.”
Slavery, of course, isn’t unique to America. It’s affected different groups all over the planet.
Nonetheless, Glenda got a call Wednesday — the auction had been canceled.
She lamented, “We had to get all those posters down around town.”
The metaphorical emancipation couldn’t have been a complete shock.
The Post points out there “have long been calls for clubs across the state to stop labeling this slavery.”
Personally, I’d like to know how “branding” ever made it in there.
On social media, the event spawned a diverse response.
Among the discussion:
“Slavery is offensive.”
“Only to snowflakes like you.”
“[Being offended] is sensitive garbage.”
“It’s called cultural sensitivity based on history…”
Speaking to WaPo, Julian Beaudion — a black police officer and part of the Coalition of Justice and Equity — indicated disgust:
“‘Slave auction?’ Branding? It’s hateful, racist, and we’re calling it what it is.”
Julian spoke of trauma:
“There’s so much pain and trauma in that name for Black people being enslaved and being branded in the palms and shoulders and cheeks. If someone calls this cancel culture — why wouldn’t we want to cancel racism and teach the next generation not to hate?”
State Rep. Linda Duba pointed out the Rodeo Club could’ve simply changed the name and still held the event.
“Instead,” she asserted, “they displayed a tone-deafness that is inexcusable. We are better than this.”
State Republican Sen. Ryan Maher’s far less bothered:
[Ryan], who represents areas near Faith, said he grew up with the phrase being used and that ranchers would donate $300 to $400 for Rodeo Club fees in excahnge for kids’ labor.
He colored the hubbub “absolutely crazy.”
“This is western South Dakota. Most people don’t even know we are here,” he said. “They need to get off their high horse and let these kids be kids and do their own thing.”
“Most importantly, mind their own business. We have our culture, and you have yours. If you don’t like ours, don’t move here and don’t come out here.”
Ryan explained he merely sees the auction as a fun event.
Maybe the world of Faith is a bit of a dinosaur.
That’s somewhat fitting; from TravelSouthDakota.com:
On August 12, 1990, fossil hunter Sue Hendrickson discovered some dinosaur bones while on a commercial fossil-hunting expedition in an area near Faith called the Hell Creek Formation. Once excavation was complete, it was clear this was no ordinary find — the fossil was one of the most complete and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons in the world, measuring 42 feet long and estimated to be approximately 67 million years old.
Happy unearth day @SUEtheTrex!#OTD in 1990, one of the worlds most famous dinosaur was discovered by fossil hunter Susan Hendrickson near Faith, South Dakota. Her discovery was nickenamed "SUE" and its /still/ the largest most complete T. rex ever found. pic.twitter.com/yYzBLQwkOM
— Eons (@EonsShow) August 12, 2020
Back then, they no doubt would’ve held the auction.
These days, culture’s not so conducive.
Back to Glenda, she’s getting acclimated:
“Now I see; this is a very bad choice of words. But I’m naive enough, I guess.”
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