Sunday, October 14, 2007

Leader in the anti-racism movement dies

Sadly, Vernon Bellecourt, one of the founding members of the American Indian Movement has died. The 75-year old, a lifelong activist, fought racism in sport by protesting the use of American Indian mascots by sports teams. At the time of his death he was the president of the National Coalition on Racism in Sports and Media and was arrested twice for protesting at Cleveland Indians games.
It's unfortunate that one of the leaders in this movement has passed, but I think Bellecourt was likely pleased by the strides made toward eradicating American Indian mascots, which remain symbols of the racist and imperialist attitudes of many Americans.
But his death also reminds us that there is still work to be done. While the NCAA has put rules into place limiting the use of American Indian mascots, such restrictions do not apply to professional sports (it's outrageous that there is still a professional football team called the Redskins) or high school sports (when I was in high school we played against the Saugus Sachems--a nickname (and logo) still in use today) which are governed by local and state bodies.
Start your own campaign against local use of American Indian mascots or find an existing one. The link for the NCRSM is a good starting point.

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