Gyasi Ross: Why African Americans should care about mascots

The logo for the Change the Mascot campaign

Gyasi Ross explains why African Americans and Native Americans share a common goal -- the elimination of the Washington NFL team's racist mascot:
Black people were not "unified" on whether integration was a good thing -- opinions varied widely. But even with no complete agreement, who cares?. Segregation was an anachronism, it was bad; in modern times, treating somebody differently because of their race simply shouldn't happen.

In that way (and several others), segregation of black folks is almost identical to the word Redskins (and Native mascots generally) for Native people.

See, for many Natives, "Redskins" is an awful word because it recollects a time when white "Indian Hunters" were allowed to kill Natives with impunity. Now, "Redskins" is celebrated every single week on national TV. Just like segregation, the word "Redskins" reminds Native people that they are treated differently because of their race -- no other race is the subject of being a mascot with no Native people making the decision to do so (whereas the Fighting Irish are well-represented at Notre Dame and within the Catholic Church).

Just like segregation, the Redskins continued existence isn't a physical violence issue. But just like segregation, the spectacle of unequal treatment is nonetheless a terrible and destructive thing that reminds Natives of their place. Just like segregation, Native people aren't completely unified on the Redskins debate -- there are Natives who have no problem with it, and there are others who think it's the worst thing in the world. But also, just like segregation, the mere notion of treating Native people differently because of our race is an anachronism, a relic from our barbaric past. It treats Native people as inferior because it doesn't happen to anybody else. Therefore, this non-violent problem, like segregation, must be addressed.

No, just like segregation, there probably will never be complete agreement here amongst Native people. No, just like segregation, the Redskins issue isn't one of physical harm. But, just like the segregation, the issue here is of a race of people being treated unequally. In that way, it's almost identical to segregation.

Get the Story:
Gyasi Ross: An Open Letter to Black America: Why You Should Want the Redskins Name Changed, Too (The Huffington Post 10/1)

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