2012: The year to end racist mascots

By Wendy Kenin

Wendy Kenin is a member of Berkeley's Peace and Justice Commission

This summer’s AIM-West campaign against racist mascots in sports refers to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, though the movement against racist stereotypes long pre-dates UNDRIP. Article 8 says, “States shall provide effective mechanisms for prevention of, and redress for… any action which has the aim or effect of depriving them of their dignity as distinct peoples, or of their cultural values or ethnic identities.”

Oakland’s Chinatown Youth Center Initiative called off a collaborative fundraiser with the Oakland A’s because on the date of the event the A’s will play against the Cleveland Indians, a sport team with a Native American mascot. On April 12 Fundraising Committee Chair of the Chinatown Youth Center Initiative Michael Lok wrote, “Our organization stands in complete solidarity with the movement to eliminate discriminatory practices and the commodification of people of color/ethnic communities’ identities, not just in sports but in all facets of our society.”

Tony Gonzalez of AIM-West welcomed the stance, “This extraordinary courage by a non-profit organization, and display of support to also sacrifice August 19, and a badly needed fundraiser for their youth center, should not go unnoticed by the American Indian, and the progressive community! Instead, let it be an example of solidarity with American Indians in other cities who plan similar protests where major league teams with racist images as logos are scheduled to play.”

The City of Berkeley passed resolution no. 65,489-N.S. October 25, 2012 “Ending Racial or Ethnic Stereotypes in Team Names, Mascots, and other Public Titles,” which addresses the social impact of “derogatory American Indian images… perpetuat[ing] a stereotypical image of American Indians that is likely to have a negative impact on the self esteem of American Indian children.”

In 2001, the United States Commission on Civil Rights issued as statement on the Use of Native American Images and Nicknames as Sports Symbols, asserting, “an end to the use of American Indian images and team names by non-Indian schools; that stereotyping of any racial, ethnic, religious or other groups when promoted by public education institutions, teach all students that stereotyping of minority groups is acceptable, a dangerous lesson in a diverse society.”

Sherylin Hue Tan, Director of the Chinatown Youth Center Initiative wrote April 17, “Because we believe in the fight to eliminate the dehumanization of people of color, we will definitely share with our youth what we’ve learned through your organization so they can to continue think critically about the commodification of people of color’s culture in this country.”

This year’s AIM-West campaign against racist mascots sheds light on the USA’s original human rights violations which persist today. Awakenings and expressions of solidarity around emotional violence in racist language and attitudes is a great step to take for American society today. It’s step one in confronting the myriad of social struggles, all of which are experienced by the indigenous – the people who have always been at the forefront of challenging our nation’s abuses of power.

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  • Qbrightman75

    Retire Chief Wahoo 
    April 20-22 2012
    Cleveland Vs Oakland Athletics


    UNA, AIM-WEST, Elders, the youth, disabled, Occupy movement, and others participated in a non-violent protest against the use of American Indians as mascots in sports, today at Oakland Coliseum where the Oakland A’s played against the Cleveland Indians! Join us this Coming July 4th – July 6th forOccupy America’s Past-Time. Ending Racism Towards Indigenous PeopleIt’s time for Major League Baseball to acknowledge and HONOR the Native American Baseball Players who broke the color barrier 48 years BEFORE the great Jackie Robinson ! We strongly encourage the leadership of Major League Baseball to recognize the demeaning nature of American Indian mascots as used by the Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves; to recognize that these images are stereotypes that portray American Indian people in a negative light; and recognize the removal of these mascots is beneficial to the American Indian community.July 4th – July 6th, 20129:00 AM to 5:00 PM MLB Comssioner’s Office245 Park AvenueNew York, New YorkIf you, your Tribal Nation, or organization are interested in joining us in Solidarity for this historic event, please join us in this call.We Currently Signing up proactive Volunteers to donate their time on the following committees, event coordinators, legal team and media support team, people who can leaflet copies ofthe event flier to help promote the event, Individuals to help with fundraising to help secure funds for travel and lodging during the event, along with any additional needs that will ensure this event is a success. Please Mail your Charitable Donation to United Native Americans2434 Faria AvePinole, CA 94564or you can Deposit your contribution Directly into UNA’s Bank Account with Bank of the West, Account Number 106012446Thank you again for your continued support of Our Mission to Demand Major League Baseball to acknowledge and HONOR the Native American Baseball Players who broke the color barrier 48 years BEFORE the great Jackie Robinson, & the Removal of all offensive & Racist Stereo Typical Sports Mascots depicting the Indigenous Community in a Negative Light.

  • Kevin

    Unless you want to be accused of being racists your move to get rid ot team name sterotypes should also be equally indignant about the Fighting Irish of Notra Dame.  Are not all peoples deserving of the same respect and what is pollitically correct for one should be politically correct for all.

    Personally I believe that most Irish americans don’t have a problem with this sterotype.