Race Relations: Offensive Mascots/Nicknames in Sports

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The exploitation of racially and culturally offensive nicknames, mascots, and images in sports has been a topic of debate in the US and Canada over the last half-century. The controversy occurs at all levels ranging from elementary schools to professional teams. This has resulted in many teams changing either their team name, team image, or team mascot associated with their sports teams. The most well known professional teams that are not supported by their respective tribes are the Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, Washington Redskins, and the Chicago Blackhawks. The Cleveland Indians “Chief Wahoo” might have been the most insulting and offensive logo, which depicts an extremely stereotypical image of an American Indian with a red face, big smile, and a feather sticking out of his hair. Although this image has long since been removed and replaced with a harmless capital letter “C”, the irreversible damage to the reputation and culture of the Native American people has been done. The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) feels that the mascots of these teams portray negative stereotypes of Native American people and demean their native traditions and rituals. Most of these offensive mascots draw on the Euro-American depiction of American Indian cultures. They are viewed as brutal third-world warriors detached from modern society continuously dancing, yelping, and banging on drums. On the other hand, rather than a mascot being seen as offensive to some, the University of Mississippi has a flag. The Confederate flag has been a controversial icon since its conception during the Civil War. To southerners, it is seen as a symbol of pride and history, but to much of the rest of the country, it brings up thoughts of prejudice and racism towards African Americans. Some main reasons for this association are because this flag has been not only found at Klu Klux Klan rallies, but also at general protests against federal desegregation laws. (King)...
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