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Fighting Abstract Racism: Rethinking Rase-based Mascots: Home

Rethinking Race: Black, White and Beyond

This guide was originally created to spark discussion and provide selected resources for the 2016 Rethinking Race face-to-face discussion Mascot Madness: The Abstract Racism of Indigenous-Based Sports Mascots. It has been updated for the 2017 Rethinking Race face-to-face discussion Fighting Abstract Racism: Rethinking Race-based Mascots. The intention is to continue to gather resources here after the event has concluded.

This open discussion on February 16, 2017 in Bierce Library concentrates on the symbolic, abstract racism of Indigenous-based team names and mascots. We will explore how unauthentic representations of Native American peoples and cultures perpetuate a distorted mythology that can render racism against Native Americans invisible.

Watch. Hear the message.

In this Missing the Point video, Dahkota Franklin Kicking Bear Brown, Student, Argonaut High School and Champion for Change, Center for Native American Youth, shares his experiences and discusses the harm caused by the use of race-based mascots. 

Jason Jones speaks with Native American activists as well as devoted football fans about the Washington Redskins' controversial team name. Published on Sep 26, 2014

Should ALL Native American Mascots be BANNED? | Decoded | MTV News (2015)

BuzzFeed Videos

Read about the creation of these videos by Chris Lam of BuzzFeed and the Southern California Indian Center in Sarah Sunshine Manning's 10/23/15 ICTMN article Meet Chris Lam of BuzzFeed, Creator of All Those Awesome Native American Videos

Understanding harm caused by race-based mascots

Ending the Legacy Of Racism in Sports & the Era of Harmful “Indian” Sports Mascots 
An October 2013 report released by the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) details the history of the nearly 50 year long movement to end the use of harmful "Indian" mascots, particularly the use of the Redsk*ns team name.

Ezra J. Zeitler's 2008 dissertation Geographies of Indigenous-based Team Name and Mascot Use in American Secondary Schools presents information about the frequency and distribution of race-based mascot and team names throughout the United States. 

The Harmful Psychological Effects of the Washington Football Mascot
This 2013 report commissioned by the Oneida Indian Nation and compiled by psychologist Dr. Michael A. Friedman presents the scientific rationale for why the R-word is harmful and should not be used as a sports mascot or team name.

Missing the Point: The Real Impact of Native Mascots and Team Names on American Indian and Alaska Native Youth
This July 2014 report by Erik Stegman and Victoria Phillips for the Center for American Progress documents the impact of mascots on AI/AN students. It shares stories from these students in their own words (see also Dahkota Franklin Kicking Bear Brown's video) and provides and overview of the movement to remove race-based mascots from K-12 and postsecondary schools.

John Two-Hawks piece How 'Indian' Mascots Oppress (1998; revised 2016) provides clear explanations for why race-based mascots are harmful and hurtful, and offers concise rebuttals to many of the frequently-used arguments for keeping "Indian" mascots and team names.

The National Museum of The American Indian hosted a day-long symposium exploring the mythology and psychology of sports stereotypes and mascots, and examined the retirement of "Native American" sports references and collegiate efforts to revive them despite the NCAA's policy against "hostile and abusive" nicknames and symbols. It is presented in the two videos linked below:
Racist Stereotypes and Cultural Appropriation in American Sports 1
Racist Stereotypes and Cultural Appropriation in American Sports 2

Justin Angle's September 12, 2016 article New research shows how Native American mascots reinforce stereotypes discuses research by Angle that shows that the use of Native American mascots reinforces stereotypes in subtle ways that people are not even aware of it. 

The National Arts Education Association’s Platform and Position Statement Regarding the Use of Race Based Mascots in Educational Settings [Adopted April 2010; Reviewed March 2013] encourages visual arts educators to "support their communities in addressing how [images such as derogatory race-based mascots] impact all lives." Their page also links to a resource guide regarding the use of Indian mascots.

Statement by the Council of the American Sociological Association on Discontinuing the Use of Native American Nicknames, Logos and Mascots in Sport
The text of the March 6, 2007 resolution by the ASA which calls for discontinuing the use of Native American nicknames, logos and mascots in sport.

Summary of the APA Resolution Recommending Retirement of American Indian Mascots
In 2005 the American Psychological Association (APA), based on a growing body of research documenting the harmful effects of stereotyping, called for the immediate retirement of all American Indian mascots, symbols, images and personalities by schools, colleges, universities, athletic teams and organizations.

Changing mascots and logos

On August 5, 2005, the NCAA Executive Committee Issued Guidelines for Use of Native American Mascots at Championship Events. Beginning on February 1, 2006, the policy prohibits NCAA colleges and universities from displaying hostile and abusive racial/ethnic/national origin mascots, nicknames or imagery at any of the NCAA championships.

On November 5, 2015, adidas announced Support For Mascot Name Changes to help high schools voluntarily change their names or mascots from harmful Native American imagery or symbolism. NPR also covered the announcement in their November 5, 2015 story Adidas Offers To Help U.S. High Schools Phase Out Native American Mascots

Continued promotion of stereotypes

Sarah Sunshine Manning's 1/15/16 ICTMN column Manning: When Media Promotes Offensive Indian Stereotypes discusses the 2016 Parent's Magazine cover and how the ongoing racist portrayal of "wild" Indians perpetuates a cycle of racism. 


Thinking about cultural appropriation

7 Myths about Cultural Appropriation DEBUNKED! | Decoded | MTV News (2015)

Think Before You Appropriate. Things to know and questions to ask in order to avoid misappropriating Indigenous cultural heritage
Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage Project, 2015. Simon Fraser University: Vancouver.