Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ending the use of Native American Mascots

Got this from a colleague the other day. It includes a petition that encourages Congress to take action to ending the abhorent practice of using Native American symbols as mascots for sports teams.
American Indians are NOT Mascots
Target: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi & Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
Sponsored by: Tim Giago and Kimberley Lyman
To most American Indians it is absolutely abhorrent for a professional football team to use the color of their skin as their team mascot. As a matter of fact, we oftentimes refer to the mascot of the Washington professional football team as the R word because to us it is as hideous as the N word is to African Americans. The use of an Indian name in and of itself for mascots is not offensive, but it is what the fans (short for fanatic) do with it that is reprehensible. When they paint their faces, stick turkey feathers in their hair, and do those awful Hollywood chants, it then starts to become insulting and racist to Native Americans. Imagine if you will a team with a mascot called the Zulus. Would African Americans be offended if the white fans painted their faces black, put Afro wigs on their heads, and waved spears in the air while chanting their perception of African war songs? Why name teams for the color of a people's skin - "Redskins?" Why not a mascot for the Blackskins, Brownskins or Yellow Skins? At one Washington Redskin football game the fans painted a pig red, put feathers on its head, and ran it around the football field. What if they had painted it black, put an Afro wig on its head, and then chased it around the football field. Would the African American fans consider this an honor? If the sports fans want to honor Native Americans, honor our treaties. You do not honor us by making us mascots for America's fun and games. In fact, just the opposite is true. If the fans of these teams choose to honor these symbols for their sports teams, so be it. But when they take real life American Indians and turn them into cartoon caricatures and then mimic them by painting their faces, donning feathers, and doing the tomahawk chop, they cross that thin line called racism.
Click below to sign the petition.


Diane said...

Several years ago, I attended a college football game, and the home team was called the Indians. I saw an African American woman teaching her little girl how to wear the paint and feathers and chop the tomahawk, and I thought to myself--Wow, what if there were people dressed as cotton-pickers in black face? Someone would have a fit. Bigotry knows no bounds.

anonymous said...

People would have a fit because African Americans have some political power in this country. Unfortunately, Native Americans don't and nobody fights for them.

Anonymous said...

No one bitches and whines about the fighting Quakers or the Fighting Irish.

This is nonsense,

Diane said...

Anon, it is usually a good idea to actually comprehend an issue before one calls it "nonsense."

First of all, the fighting Quakers were considered heroes by many because they left their faith to fight for and support the American Revolution. Hence, "fighting Quaker" is considered a term for courage (though I personally do not like the concept of courage being connected to sport, but that's another issue.

As for the fighting Irish, there is no offensive, stereotypic image supporting that word. Again, it is a tribute to the Irish spirit.

With "Indians" (which is an improper term to begin with), there are racial stereotypes that accompany the use of the name.