By Nick Jenkins
Many mascots being used by American sports teams are being perceived as mocking and offensive, specifically towards Native Americans due to the inaccurate representations of their culture by these mascots and the fans. It may be questionable whether or not it is actually offensive, but it most definitely affects the lives of Native Americans because these representations can be negative and stereotypical, and it adds to the issue of racial injustice in our country. The issue might not be as big if these cultures were honored properly when being used as a mascot, but it’s up to the fans and how far they take the stereotypes. The best solution will probably be to take down the mascots all together.
It is fact that the mascots being used by certain sports teams were made up during times of great racism, and were a product of mockery at the time. The Redskins NFL football team and others are evidence of this, being that the term “redskin” was a racial slur used during the genocide of the Native Americans. Research has suggested that using Native American as a mascot promotes discrimination, and as a result the American Psychological and Sociological Association’s called for the elimination of American Indian mascots, symbols, images, and personalities by schools, colleges, universities, athletic teams, and organizations, as well as Native American nicknames, logos, and mascots in sports. The National Collegiate Athletic Association ceased to recognize Indian mascots in 1998 and many newspapers have stopped printing things related to these mascots. The stereotypes and discrimination against Native Americans is a reflection of the way they are portrayed and mimicked by mascots and their fans. Stereotypes are the result, which in turn degrade Native Americans.
The history of Native Americans, as well as other cultures and historical events, is a symbol of the way humans have mistreated and disrespected the rights of other humans, or any being for that matter. All cultures, including Native American culture, are important because they demonstrate discovered knowledge and ways of life which contribute to what humans and the world may need. Some people argue that eliminating these mascots will prevent further awareness of the Native American culture or remove it all together. This is not true because it is taught about in schools. It is written about in books. There are documentaries and movies about Native Americans, as well as other sources. The mascots cause people to have negative, false, or narrow and irrelevant assumptions about Native Americans proving that the mascots hurt more than help on the subject of cultural awareness towards Native Americans.
The emotional argument is stronger on the Native Americans’ side. To stop the stereotypes, the micro-aggressions, and the racism towards Native Americans there needs to be a change in the way fans perceive them. This can change by stopping the act of blindly associating Native Americans with tribal savagery as well as other stereotypes that are all related to how European immigrants saw Native Americans during a racially unjustified and genocidal time.