The term “redskins” was once used to describe the scalps of Native Americans used as bounties when white men found the bodies of Native Americans too heavy to carry. Considering the violent history of violence associated with the racial epithet, it seems beyond offensive to use it as a mascot. I wanted to create a wave for the “Change the Mascot” movement against the Washington Redskins. Well, it occurred to me soon enough that this task (though incredibly important) would be very difficult.
Considering the scale of the journey and my ability as an individual, I realized I bit off more than I could chew. So, I decided instead of trying to reach legislators and making headlines, I would simply lay out information and resources for anyone to access. I wanted to tackle the issue via social media after seeing a banned ad for the Change the Mascot campaign. Since the NFL refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing or address the issue, I wanted to raise awareness of the dangers of willful ignorance and institutional racism. Under the perception of a post-racial society, many people no longer believe that there is widespread racial discrimination, when in fact it is alive and thriving, and the heavy imagery of American Indian mascots is one of the ways an entire culture is mocked and discriminated against. This perverse social oppression through racial slur is a blatant abuse of privilege and ignorance. It is cultural appropriation and an offensive commoditization of a racial identity for the interests of a money-hungry corporation.
Creating the blog was easy enough, and so was accessing information (news articles, history, and plenty of academic sources considering the racial inequalities and stereotypes in football). However, trying to promote my blog wasn’t quite so simple. I did reach out to other blogs and sift through hashtags to try and amass followers, but I’m not sure I was able to reach a wide enough audience. The reaction was lackluster (despite my followers) and attempts to reach out to other blogs. Though there are many blogs and bloggers with causes, it was difficult to find people interested in my cause and gaining notes. In hindsight, I should have paired my online efforts with public statements (word of mouth, flyers, etc) linked to my blog to increase traffic. And I should have connected to the campaign directly, working while waiting to work with them, but these are all ideas that I had not thought of in my preparation. Because I am new to activism, I found it difficult to organize my opinions with the online world.
A sad reality I encountered dealt with public apathy. Fans are so dedicated to their teams but not empathetic to communities and individuals to take a step back and consider the campaign. While using my blog, I also realized a campaign such as this requires persistent and consistent uploads and reaching out, something I was unfortunately unable to do. I was also surprised at how much more preparationi by blog needed in the creation of posts. Though I can articulate why the cause is important, I could not produce enough witty, intelligent, eloquent statements to draw in followers. And many times during the process, I was discouraged and not fully invested in the task. Channeling my thoughts into a constructive manner was harder than I thought and takes a lot of effort and structure to get off the ground.
But the issue still remains at large and affects the Native community.
Perverting the image of Native Americans by degrading their culture only legitimizes race hierarchy and the white cultural space with unequal opportunity.
Visit the blog!
Visit the ChangetheMascot campaign and take action!
Watch the banned ad!