Offensive mascot names need a makeover

Dylan Schor, Staff Writer

 On many high school sports teams, students and faculty take pride in their mascots. However, today in the 21st century, there are still countless mascots based on offensive images and stereotypes. 

Although in recent years the fight against these hurtful mascots has become more relevant, many schools continue to represent racist stereotypes on their sports teams. On many occasions, these mascots inaccurately portray the background of America’s native people, often through negative connotations. Mascots such as the “Chiefs” and the “Redskins” are intolerant to the history of American Indians, showing them as aggressive and reckless savages. 

“Indian sports mascots are hurtful to the heritage and culture of many groups of people and I think that sports teams need to take these people’s feelings into account,” said freshman Ellie Shapiro. 

The NCAI, or National Congress of American Indians, has been fighting stereotypes in pop culture and in sports since 1968. In 28 high schools across 18 states, the “Redskin” mascot has been dropped in favor of a more progressive mascot, according to the NCAI. 

Many team names have been defined as racial slurs, the “Redskins” in particular. Referring to the bloody scalps of the Native Americans in the 1800s, the name “Redskin” is considered to be a derogatory term. The severely offensive nature of this name surely should be enough to stop titles like this from being sports teams, but schools continue to use them, arguing that they are representing the history of their town. Native Americans have made settlements all across the United States, including on Long Island. However, this doesn’t give schools the right to misrepresent the heritage of these people, especially when these names can influence the youth that represent these teams. 

“In school, we learn about our country’s mistakes in oppression and separation in society, yet schools keep Indian mascots,” said freshman, Ella Psaltos. 

While schools may claim to “honor” the Native Americans of the past, they are simply ignoring the injustice by the American government against the native people. By schools’ allowing these names, many children and teens alike are learning the wrong lesson. The images seen in logos are often taken as factual representation to young children, contributing to cultural bias. 

“I think the use of Native American mascots highlights a very stereotypical image of what Native American culture seems to be. Schools should definitely push to use different mascots in favor of the students that are hurt by them,” said junior Carolyn Stoller. 

For the Native American youth, having a mascot that represents an entire culture, especially incorrectly, can have some very negative side effects. Studies from the American Psychological Association have shown that the representation of Indian mascots in school has created a hostile and unsafe learning environment for some students, decreasing academic success in the classroom. 

This environment can also be attributed to the treatment of Native American students. Some students may rely on the false ideas represented in these mascots as their source of information about Native Americans, contributing to preexisting racism and prejudice. The harmful effect on children’s’ self esteem only contributes to the many issues that Native Americans face as a minority group in society. Simply, the fact that racial slurs and offensive stereotypes of people’s heritage and culture are being used as mascots for sports is completely unethical. In the future, school districts should aim to end this intolerance in favor of a different mascot for the good of all students that represent them.