A Matter Of Respectby Adam Carvell, Earlville, NYA significant issue that deals directly with the high-school environment is the use of Native Americans as mascots. Most of you probably know of at least one school in your area with such a mascot. These mascots have become a concern to both Native Americans and members of other races, due to their degrading nature.When a school, college, or professional sports team uses an entire racial group as its symbol or mascot, it maintains a stereotype. It says that they are less than human and an appropriate symbol for America's fun and games. These mascots make it more acceptable to maintain stereotypes about Native Americans, one of the most commonly misunderstood racial groups in the nation. Supporters of these mascots claim that the main focus is to honor Native Americans. However, it is hard to believe that mascots with names like the Redmen, Redskins, Scalping Braves, Marauders, or even Indians could still be intended to honor or show respect. Caricatures like Cleveland's Chief Wahoo or Atlanta's Chief Nocahoma (meant to read Knock-a-Homer) are utterly insulting and degrading. People think that it is acceptable for fans and cheerleaders to wear war paint and head dresses, but how would those same people react if the cheerleaders and fans put on blackface and cheered for the Cleveland Negroes?We, as a generation, are falling into a trend of increased apathy and intolerance. Racism and bigotry are becoming increasingly widespread. Hate groups are reaching record membership levels, and our generation is too willing to sit back and accept whatever happens. We should be willing to take a stand, to recognize what is right and just, and fight for a worthy cause. ?
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.