In recent years liberals have assured Americans, especially sports fans, that Native Americans were thoroughly disgusted by having ball teams use references to their heritage as nicknames and mascots.
Such symbols are racism, and those who use or cheer them are racists, liberals contend.
MSNBC’s Joy Reid embodied this mode of thinking recently when discussing the Atlanta Braves in the World Series. Reid had an on-air meltdown over the Braves’ “tomahawk chop” chant, which she denounced as “offensive,” “gross,” and, of course, “racist” – something that actually promoted hatred of Native Americans.
Despite that, though, a counterargument has arisen.
A North Dakota-based Native American group actually argues it’s racist to erase such symbols – and the group is suing the state of Colorado to make its point.
According to The Washington Times, the Native American Guardian’s Association sued Colorado on behalf of three state residents over a 2020 state law that prohibits schools from using American Indian mascots after June 1, 2022.
Schools that break the law risk a monthly fine of $25,000. The state has identified more than 20 schools that must change.
The law does not apply to schools on tribal lands – which raises the question of how offensive such uses are.
Nonetheless, the NAGA argues that actually the law “unlawfully enacts state-sanctioned race discrimination” against Native Americans, the Times reported.
In the lawsuit, the group asserts that positive images of nicknames and logos allow Native Americans to “reclaim names and images that were once directed at them as insults in order to turn them outward as badges of pride.”
The Denver Post added that the lawsuit says the plaintiffs “oppose the use of American Indian mascot performers and caricatures that mock Native American heritage — such as Lamar High School’s former mascot Chief UghLee or the Atlanta Braves’ former Native American caricature Chief Noc-A-Homa — in sports and other public venues.”
Yet, “culturally appropriate Native American names, logos and imagery serve to honor Native Americans, and to help public schools neutralize offensive and stereotypical Native American caricatures and iconography, while teaching students and the general public about American Indian history.”
NAGA Board Member Eunice Davidson Wicanhpiwastewin noted that the law is unconstitutional because it provides benefits to non-Native Americans at the expense of American Indians.
“One of NAGA’s primary goals is to partner with school districts to reappropriate Native American names as honorifics in order to reclaim their meaning and to teach non-Native American students about Native American history,” she said.
Maybe, for the benefit of Joy Reid and others, it’s just as racist to try to lump all Native Americans together and to tell them how and what to think.
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