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The Voice Of The Immoral Mascot

2077 words - 8 pages

I In recent years there has been a growing controversy around the use and abuse of Indian mascots. This practice, which some claim is a representation of competitive spirit and team identity while others declare discrimination, has sparked passionate debates and intense protests. Multiple schools have voluntarily abandoned their Indian-related names. However, some have not and the dispute remains ever-present. Truly, there should be no compromise. The use of Indians as sports mascots is immoral because it discriminates unfairly against Native Americans. The argument over whether Native American mascots should be used as a team symbol dates back to the 1970’s (Price 2). People differ on the basic subject, but there is a more simplistic underlying issue. It involves listening. Determining whether or not someone is harmed by a practice can reveal if that practice can or should be morally justified. If we are hearing the majority of Native Americans voicing that the use of Indian mascots contributes to the destruction of their culture, then we as a society must listen. But, let me be clear. This is not an issue that is needs to be decided by majority vote. This population, whatever their number, is attempting to relay that use of Native American images as sports mascots dehumanizes them and damages their heritage. Actually hearing what is being said will lead one to conclude that it is wrong to continue such portrayals. As a nation, we often look for certainty in allegations, as if where it falls on the gauge makes a difference in how we shall respond. However, we do not need a study or poll in this instance. There is no evaluation tool that can encompass every Native American or Non-Indian voice. In doing so, we are already showing our skepticism toward what the Native American people are contending. Listening challenges the notion of certainty. It is through listening to those with the smallest voice, the oppressed, that we begin to understand the harmful effect of demeaning caricatures on a school banner or team uniform. The essence of anti-discrimination laws is to protect the silent minority of those unprotected by disparate treatment. So too, it follows that the debate concerning Indian sport images should not involve “certainty” as to the number of Native Americans who are either impacted or offended by such symbols. The numbers do not matter. What does matter is that a relevant portion of a race is treated differently than any other class when it comes to the utilization of sports mascots.
Listening leads to understanding. It is not a matter of conferring with more groups or evaluating who can shout the loudest that determines whether discrimination exists. Selectively choosing what we hear limits our knowledge. True voice contains various pitches, tenor and tones. Thus, it is the blending of what Native Americans say combined with the vocalization of non-Indians that provides a range of insight into how Indian sports mascots...

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