California Becomes First State To Ban “Redskins” As School Mascots
Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill on Sunday that will prohibit public schools in California from using “Redskins” as a team name or mascot, starting Jan. 1, 2017. Schools will, however, be permitted to still wear old uniforms and materials to phase out cost concerns. The bill will only affect four high schools in different counties of California, but there’s hope that it will influence other teams to stop representing themselves with a racial slur.
It’s kind of horrifying how the trend of using Native American caricatures as mascots still continues. While the newly banned term is one of the more offensive racial slurs, there are plenty others that are also unacceptable (I distinctly remember playing a tennis match against a rival CA school whose mascots were the “Indians”). Using these names and images are not only gross misrepresentations of cultures, but also perpetuate really harmful ideas of real, living people (Buzzfeed has a great video about these racist mascots).
This bill will hopefully put more pressure on other schools and teams that use names like these (Florida State Seminoles, Chicago Blackhawks, Atlanta Braves, Washington Redskins, Cleveland Indians, etc.). Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter and National Congress of American Indians Executive Director Jackie Pata, leaders of the advocacy group Change the Mascot, told the LA Times:
This landmark legislation eliminating the R-word in California schools clearly demonstrates that this issue is not going away, and that opposition to the Washington team on this issue is only intensifying. The NFL should act immediately to press the team to change the name.
With this new bill, it should be more clear that these kinds of portrayals shouldn’t be allowed to exist. It feels incredibly anachronistic to see people okay with these names and images in 2015.
It’s worth noting that while Brown signed the bill to ban the offensive term, he also unfortunately vetoed a bill that would have similarly banned naming public properties after figures associated with the confederacy, something he called “quintessentially for local decision makers.” Happy Columbus Day; can we stop honoring racists and persistent artifacts of racism?
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