The issue of racial sensitivity with sports mascots has become an increasingly touchy issue in recent years, with several college teams changing their nicknames. St. John’s University, for instance, went from the Redmen to the Red Storm. Professional teams, however, remain stubbornly defiant in maintaining their ”tradition,” as if tradition is inherently a good thing (Slavery anyone?).
The most egregious offender is the Washington Redskins, a name whose inappropriateness should be obvious BECAUSE IT’S A SLUR. The Oxford English Dictionary, Webster’s Dictionary and Dictionary.com all call it “offensive.” But because Native Americans don’t carry the political clout and sheer population numbers of, say, black folks, the name continues unaltered, even though the University of Miami (Ohio) changed its name from the Redskins to the Redhawks way back in 1997. To add insult to injury, that same year, Washington DC found it necessary to change its pro basketball team from the Bullets to the Wizards because of the negative connotation of the word “bullets.”
Even if your team’s name isn’t as ”slurry” as the Redskins, it might be time for a change. If you can answer “yes” to any of the questions below, you might want to consider it.
- Does your mascot encompass an entire race of people?
- Does your sports team’s nickname include the skin color, hair texture and/or nose shape of the mascot?
- Does your mascot engage in behavior that could be construed as offensive; for example, war cries, tribal dancing or clapping on the one and three?
- Does your mascot routinely tell jokes that begin with “A white guy, a black guy and a Chinese guy walk into a bar” and end with “No offense” when he notices a black guy or an Asian guy standing within earshot?
- When your mascot drives a taxi to make some extra money, does he routinely pass by — or run over — black people?
- Has your mascot ever told another team’s mascot to “go back to where you came from”?
- Does your mascot refer to non-mascots as “you people”?
- When your mascot shakes a minority mascot’s hand before a game, does he discreetly wipe it off afterward?
- Does your mascot own slave mascots?
- Is your team’s nickname one of these?
- University of Oklahoma Honky Scalps
- San Diego State Mexicans
- Howard University Negroes
- Yeshiva University Jesus Killers
- University of Alabama Klan
- Iowa State Wiggers
- University of San Francisco Chinese Takeout Delivery Guys
- L.A. City College Crips
- University of Miami Scarfaces
- U.S. Naval Academy Asian War Brides
- University of Virginia Hate Crimes