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Center: Report outlines harmful effects of 'Indian' mascots

New report from The Center for American Progress: Missing the Point

Erik Stegman and Victoria Phillips discuss their new report, Missing the Point, about the harmful impacts of mascots on Indian youth. They are also hosting a discussion on the issue this morning:
Much of the recent debate has centered on issues such as economics. Many fans and media commentators have debated the cost of changing the name for the team and the league. Others have focused on the “legacy” and memories that fans will lose with a new name. And perhaps the most referenced issue is the team’s supposed lack of racist or derogatory intent. But too much of the debate misses the point. It is not just about a name, a logo, a business, or a matter of intent. Racist and derogatory team names have real and harmful effects on AI/AN people every day, particularly young people.

AI/AN students across the country attend K-12 and postsecondary schools that still maintain racist and derogatory mascots. Research shows that these team names and mascots can establish an unwelcome and hostile learning environment for AI/AN students. It also reveals that the presence of AI/AN mascots directly results in lower self-esteem and mental health for AI/AN adolescents and young adults. And just as importantly, studies show that these mascots undermine the educational experience of all students, particularly those with little or no contact with indigenous and AI/AN people. In other words, these stereotypical representations are too often understood as factual representations and thus “contribute to the development of cultural biases and prejudices.”

These are some of the many compelling reasons why major professional organizations have already weighed in. For example, the American Psychological Association called for the “immediate retirement of all American Indian mascots, symbols, images, and personalities by schools, colleges, universities, athletic teams, and organizations” nearly a decade ago. Similarly, the American Counseling Association passed a resolution in 2011 calling on their members to advocate for the elimination of these stereotypes where they are employed, and the American Sociological Association called for the elimination of AI/AN names, mascots, and logos in 2007.

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Erik Stegman and Victoria Phillips: Missing the Point (The Center for American Progress 7/22)

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