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CBS apologizes for OutKast performance

Some saw Indian-themed number as racist

The Grammy performance of OutKast's Andre 3000 featured fringed costumes, feathered headdresses and a teepee-shaped structure in the background.
The Grammy performance of OutKast's Andre 3000 featured fringed costumes, feathered headdresses and a teepee-shaped structure in the background.

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LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- CBS television issued a new round of apologies, this time for any offense taken at the American Indian-motif Grammy Awards performance by the hip-hop group OutKast that some Native Americans have condemned as racist.

The San Francisco-based Native American Cultural Center posted a notice on its Web site last week calling for a boycott of CBS, OutKast's label Arista Records, and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, which sponsors the Grammys.

"It was the most disgusting set of racial stereotypes aimed at American Indians that I have ever seen on TV," NACC board member Sean Freitas said in the online statement. "It was on par with white people dancing sexually in black face, or yarmulkes ... I am shocked and outraged."

NACC Chair Andrew Brother Elk said he has lodged a formal complaint with the Federal Communications Commission over the telecast, which he branded as "racist TV programming."

A little more than two weeks ago, CBS came under fire from the FCC for the breast-baring Super Bowl halftime performance by Janet Jackson on the Viacom Inc.-owned network.

"We are very sorry if anyone was offended," CBS spokeswoman Nancy Carr said when asked about the NACC boycott. She declined to comment further.

The performance in question came near the end of the Grammy telecast last Sunday night, as OutKast singer Andre "3000" Benjamin, dressed as a Native American, led a show-stopping dance number built around the hit song "Hey Ya!"

The piece opened with the sound of drums and smoke wafting from a teepee-shaped structure before a group of female dancers emerged to bump and grind in skimpy, fringed costumes, braided hair and feathered headdresses. They were accompanied on stage by members of a university marching band.

Benjamin told reporters backstage afterward that the number was meant as an American Indian-inspired performance.

OutKast went home with three Grammys that night, including the coveted prize of best album for its hit double-CD release "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below."



Copyright 2004 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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