Racist Stereotypes and Cultural Appropriation in American Sports
February 7, 2013
Sports writers, scholars, authors, and representatives from sports organizations engaged a capacity audience with lively panel discussions on racist stereotypes and cultural appropriation in American sports. Speakers explored the mythology and psychology of sports stereotypes and mascots, and examined the retirement of "Native American" sports references and collegiate efforts to revive them despite the NCAA's policy against "hostile and abusive" nicknames and symbols. The day-long symposium ended with a spirited community conversation about the name and logo of the Washington, D.C., professional football team, with sports writers from the Washington Post and USA Today, along with eminent members of the D.C. community.
The symposium advances a movement endorsed by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in 2001 and addressed last year by the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.
In 2005 the American Psychological Association (APA) called for the immediate retirement of all American Indian mascots, symbols, images, and personalities by schools, colleges, universities, athletic teams, and organizations. The APA's position is based on a growing body of social science literature that shows the harmful effects of racial stereotyping and inaccurate racial portrayals, including the particularly harmful effects of American Indian sports mascots on the social identity development and self-esteem of American Indian young people: http://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/indian-mascots.aspx. See also “Of Warrior Chiefs and Indian Princesses: The Psychological Consequences of American Indian Mascots,” Stephanie A. Fryberg, University of Arizona; Hazel Rose Markus, Stanford University; Daphna Oyserman, The University of Michigan; Joseph M. Stone, Stanford University.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) policy limiting the use of Native American mascots, nicknames, and imagery at NCAA championships.
A broad list of resources examining the origins of Native American mascots and the history of Native American resistance to them is available on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, American Indian Studies Program website.
“Entities Opposing ‘Indian’ Sports References,” compiled by The Morning Star Institute, October 2009.
Kevin Gover, “Native Mascots and other Misguided Beliefs,” American Indian Magazine (Fall 2011): 10-13.