Indian Mascot Name Change Essay

1769 words - 8 pages

Mascot Name Changes Assignment
a) In the article by King and Springwood (2000), “Fighting Spirits: The Racial Politics of Sports Mascots”, the authors go into detail about how “whiteness” (at Ole Miss) and “redness” (at Florida State) have been used to create a controversial symbol of power that has produced a racial discrepancy between opposing races taking offense to the mascot used by both schools. In the case of Florida State University, the school has developed a mascot (Chief Osceola) that portrays the American Indian as an aggressive savage. “When Osceola leads the FSU football players onto the field, he signifies armed resistance, bravery, and savagery, and his ...view middle of the document...

What makes this issue worse is the fact that the mascot is represented by Euro-American students who are essentially “playing Indian”. This issue of playing Indian is taken to even further levels by fans and boosters of the university. King and Springwood comment on this when they stated, “It is underscored by an official booster club, the scalphunters, and the informal, even spontaneous, actions of fans, dressing in paint and feathers or yelling war whoops” (p. 286) The fact that white Americans feel they have the right to represent another race in a way that dehumanizes them leads to the underlying issue of why racism is still relevant today.
Indian mascots are not the only representations at universities that create or even promote racial inequality. The University of Mississippi’s mascot is represented by “Colonel Reb”. “The figure was a White man sporting a white goatee and mustache and a black suit with a bolo tie, reminiscent perhaps of a genteel plantation owner at the time of the Civil War” (King and Springwood [2000], p. 289). This image that Ole Miss uses to represent their university is the same image that oppressed black men and women into slavery for hundreds of years. Not only is their mascot offensive but their use of the confederate flag as the unofficial team flag also promotes a feeling of white aristocracy. The confederate flag is a symbol of oppression as evidenced by King and Springwood (2000) stating, “Indeed, when James Meredith enrolled and, with the protection of federal marshals, began to attend classes in 1962, the flag encapsulated both southern pride and resistance to the civil rights movement” (p. 290). The fact that a flag, which represents hundreds of years of terror for a group of people, acts as a symbol for an institution of learning in America is downright disrespectful. Even being from the south, I still have a big issue with the use of such a symbol as a representation of southern pride. Having southern pride is one thing, but to have pride in spite of racial discrimination against a group of people is absolutely unacceptable.
A big argument brought up by many Ole Miss supporters is the notion of destroying the tradition of the university by taking away the confederate flag and changing the name of the mascot. King and Springwood (2007) provide the traditionalist’s argument by stating, “They introduced the glory and sacrifice of the University Greys, the honor and character of Southern heritage, the siege of traditional values, and the victimization of southern Whites to secure their position” (p. 292). My question however, is what about the tradition of what those symbols represent to black people? A tradition of being beaten and forced to do rigorous physical work for no compensation and horrible living conditions. Universities such as Ole Miss and Florida State need to take a step back and really ask themselves if persevering the tradition of their school is worth dehumanizing and racially...

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