The sun beat down upon the pale skin of the crowd as a consistent murmur echoed across the field. Hands simultaneously lifted and then dropped, repeatedly, while every eye gazed with intent upon the figure who stood alone on the grass in the center of the field. He had a glowing red face, an oversized nose, and a red and white feather that pointed to the sky. As the chant continued to resonate, the figure began to dance to the soft harmony of an organ. His nose humorously bounced up and down while the stupid grin on his face never seemed to dissipate. Those who looked upon the sight of the dancing figure smiled back at him and wondered where the hot dog vendor had gone. It was the seventh inning stretch at a Cleveland Indians baseball game and the crowd, in a somewhat inebriated state, cheered wildly at the team’s mascot.
This mascot was not a bull or a bronco, or a giant or a jet, but rather, in my view, was a mean-spirited stereotype of a proud and noble people. In this age of political correctness, what minority in this country would allow itself to be portrayed in such a demeaning manner? African-Americans, as well as other minorities who have a strong political voice in this country, would not tolerate such behavior and would take immediate action to remedy such an egregious offense. The question that must be asked then is why do we as a society quietly permit such conduct, disrespectful and hurtful to Native Americans, to continue without taking any affirmative action to curtail it?
The answer to this question stirs up underlying issues which we must confront as a society. If the United States continues to dishonor the Native Americans, such actions will not only inhibit the equality that Native Americans deserve, but they will widen the crack in the very foundation of our democracy. True democracy must be accorded to all people within our society, no matter how few in number or how economically disadvantaged. The issue centered around the removal of Indian mascots and logos from sports teams is emblematic of the struggle of a politically and economically weak minority to achieve equality in this country. For a people to achieve equality within a society, they must be deemed worthy of respect and the failure of a society to demonstrate such respect will only perpetuate discrimination.
The Native Americans, since 1492, have not been treated fairly and their cries for equality have fallen on deaf ears. One reason for this inaction is that the Native American people only represent eight tenths of one percent of the United States population; accordingly, their voices do not have any political or economic impact. (Wright, 5) Women, on the other hand, represent more than fifty percent of the population, and they have learned how to flex their political and economic strength. For example, in 1986 Hornell Brewing Company introduced a new malt liquor called “Midnight Dragon.” Promotional posters featured a woman in a red dress,...