Funnyman Ralphie May has sparked quite a stir in the rural Northern town of Bemidji Minnesota recently which resulted in some backlash from the local indigenous communities calling for the cancellation of his performance on April 6 at the city’s major event venue, the Sanford Center.
The reaction from the community is stemming from a very racial and controversial video that has surfaced on the comedian in which he says in the video clip, using dialogue such as “F–k a bunch of Indians. I am sick of hearing about it. Are we supposed to boo hoo over goddamn Indians that sh-t that was 120 years ago? F–kin’ get over it. Nobody 150 years ago was making you drink now. Dry up’ you buncha alcoholics and go get a real f–kin’ job.”
The video continues with that Indians are unemployed alcoholics in need of haircuts. He goes on to say that “never made it to the Bronze Age,” which is why white settlers took their land with “smallpox blankets and a bag of beads. The actual dialogue of the video is quite disturbing and viewer discretion is advised. The YouTube video has been viewed well over 10,000 times.
After the video went viral and got the attention of the local indigenous leaders, organizers of the event at the Sanford Center said that the leaders contacted them, demanding the show to be cancelled. Management of the venue explained to them, that they could not just cancel the show due to legal contractual obligations with May.
Outraged, these leaders took to social networking and by Wednesday night the show had been called off. Requests to the City of Bemidji Council for comment were not immediately answered as of Wednesday night, but that a press release would be forthcoming.
City managers decided that this show would not be in the best interest of the City of Bemidji being that it is surrounded by three Indian reservations.
What is ironic about this whole thing is, that the name Bemidji is an Ojibwe word Its name derives from the Ojibwe Bay-may-ji-ga-maug, meaning “lake that traverses another body of water.” They also said that the timing couldn’t be worse either with the community pow-wow just weeks away where all three reservations of Red Lake, White Earth and Leech Lake come together for the annual community pow-wow at the Sanford Center. You would think that the venue would have researched Mr. May a little more in depth before bringing him to the area and want to protect and maintain a positive relationship with the local indigenous community.
May took to Twitter Wednesday to refute the claims made from the controversial comments stating that the video was stolen from a show in which he shares a comedy bit that explains that people say hateful things for stupid reasons. May says that the bit is a lot longer than what was shared (more than 44 seconds) and that if the whole video was shared it would explain the reason for using the comments as an example of how people can be.
May goes on to say that he makes jokes about all races, Whites, Blacks, Asians, Latinos, Arabs, Jews and Gays and at the end of the bit it really emphasizes how hatred is stupid. May says that he understands that words hurt, but the punchline of the joke is meant to hurt hateful, spiteful people; not loving people such as the Natives. May says that if they are truly offended by a joke that was edited and taken out of context then he is truly sorry. The whole bit is about the use of hate and stereotypes in America over something as stupid as Dances with Wolves beating Goodfellas for an Oscar.
The City of Bemidji apparently contacted the Sanford Center Wednesday afternoon and more or less told the management to cancel the show. Calls to May’s management were not immediately returned as of Wednesday night.
Ralphie May is slated to appear next at the Ames Center in Burnsville, April 14 in Southern Minnesota.