Native American mascots in sports have been the center of much controversy over the last several decades, but it seems as though not enough progress has been made to give up on this campaign.
– racism in sports
– racism in America
– racism in society
Before I begin, let me say that this issue is certainly not black and white, and that racism in general if not addressed is bound to continue. However, racism is racism, no matter what form it takes. Racism can be described as the belief that human races have distinctive characteristics, abilities and qualities which determine their respective cultures with some races being superior or inferior to others.” These so-called “distinctive characteristics” have been used to discriminate against races of people for years, in both big and small ways. From the color of my skin, to a team name in a locker room in Oklahoma.
-“superior or inferior to others”
Before you address racism, you must first recognize that racism is racism regardless of what it is directed towards. In this article I will discuss my personal opinion on why racist Native American mascots should be banned from sports teams everywhere.
There is a debate in the United States about whether Native American mascots should be banned or protected. The debate turns on racism and respect for certain groups of people, such as Native Americans. Many people feel that racism is no longer an issue in American society because racism based on race has been outlawed. However, racism often does not include ideas about someone’s ethnicity. Native American racism is based on an idea of someone’s Indian heritage, instead of their physical features. The real issue is that racism has changed since the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s.
Racism was then about race, but racism today is often more acceptable because it does not include ideas about skin color or other visible characteristics of an individual. Racism today focuses on cultural differences between groups of people, such as minorities or majorities (based on population). Many Native American mascots are allowed to continue because they represent something culturally meaningful for a group of people, but others feel these representations dehumanize individuals who do not fit into narrow stereotypes used by mascots (Bergman et al. n. d. ).
Some argue that racism today is much more subtle and insidious than racism in the past because racism does not rely on hate or anger towards a racial group. Many people do racism without realizing they are participating in it and others in society accept racism (Bergman et al. , n. d. ). Racism today often involves making positive statements about someone, such as their cultural practices or beliefs, but these statements imagine them into stereotypes or narrow ideas about what makes someone who they are (Bergman et al. , n. d. ).
Native American mascots represent racist views because they take away individuality from individuals and associate them with symbols used by sports teams rather than imagining them as important members of society (Bergman et al. , n. d. ). Native American racism is a special case of racism today because racism against Native Americans often involves stereotyping or imagining them into racist mascots that have been used for resistance to the Civil Rights movement. The use of Native American mascots is not just racism, but also racism in defense of racism from decades ago (Bergman et al. n. d. ).
Sport teams began using these mascots as a way to show support for continuing racism and dehumanizing everyone else who has faced oppression by white people in America (Tatum & Donnelly, 2005). Many argue that Native American racism only affects marginalized groups of people and is not a problem for anyone else. Sports fans feel they can enjoy their favorite sport without feeling racism affects them because racism is associated with poverty and crime, not popular culture.
This racism is seen as a problem only for Native Americans, but racism against Native Americans has been used to offer support for racism across all American society (Bergman et al. , n. d. ). The debate about whether Native American mascots should be banned or protected is a complicated one that comes down to racism in America today and which groups of people are affected by it. Many argue that individuals can avoid racism by choosing not to participate in racist mascots, but racism today often involves pretending racism does not exist or imagining other groups as equals as long as they do what you want them to do (Bergman et al. n. d. ).
People feel racism is acceptable if it involves imagining into stereotypes that are looked down upon by society, but Native American racism involves racism in its most obvious form (Bergman et al. , n. d. ). People using racism for their own interests want Native American racism to be seen as less important than racism today because racism against Native Americans has been used for so long in popular culture. Racism is not just about dehumanizing people or stereotyping groups of people, but also about benefitting from racism when it supports ideas you already have about yourself and your place in the world.
Whether Native American mascots should be banned or allowed to continue is not just a question of whether racism is something only poor people do or that affects other races disproportionately, but also racism today is much more about pretending racism does not exist or imagining racism benefits everyone equally. Racism against Native Americans has been allowed to go on for so long because it has always been used to support racism in American society, but racism against Native Americans should be seen as racism towards all members of society because it imagines others into stereotypes that harm everyone.