Every time I open a copy of The Miami Hurricane nowadays, it seems another member of our Canes family is attacking the Iron Arrow Honor Society. Some claim the use of native traditions and symbols in IA ceremonies is racist and “cultural appropriation.” I can understand the need to point out important issues, however, I can’t help but feel that these sentiments are not only ignorant but also divisive in nature. The facts present a much different picture of the situation.
Iron Arrow was founded on respect for the Miccosukee tribe of Miami, a tribe whose history is deeply intertwined with this city. The entire purpose of the society was to honor Miccosukee culture and preserve it while honoring the greatest leaders and changemakers in our academic community. Calling the society’s traditions “exoticizing of native culture” and racist is a complete denial of concrete fact. The Miccosukee tribe itself sanctions and participates in the dissemination of these symbols and traditions. Referring to these actions as “play-acting” or fetishizing native culture is disingenuous, considering they aren’t misinformed parodies of native traditions. Are we to understand that a sovereign nation cannot decide for itself whether or not such actions are racist? Are those outside of the Miccosukee nation somehow authorities on what is and isn’t offensive? Who are we to police how sovereign nations share their culture? The truth is, we have no right to do so and acting as if we do is patronizing at best.
Nothing about Iron Arrow is an outlet for white racists to act as the “others” they apparently seek to commit genocide against. In actuality, Iron Arrow is a society that holds Miccosukee culture in such high esteem, they based the highest honor at this university after it. We as a Cane community need to step back and recognize that not everything we disagree with is racist or evil. Participating in and learning about other cultures is a beautiful thing, and Iron Arrow’s goal above all else is respect. We must stop this ignorant, hate seeking rhetoric immediately, as it serves no purpose but to divide our community further.
Sofia Diaz is a freshman studying finance and broadcast journalism.