Opinion | Sports

Amanda Blackhorse: Dehumanization of our people continues

Amanda Blackhorse, in blue, organized a protest when the Kansas City Chiefs played in Arizona in December 2014. Photo from Arizona to Rally Against Native American Mascots / Facebook

Amanda Blackhorse, a member of the Navajo Nation who is the lead petitioner in Blackhorse v. Pro Football, Inc., explains why she fights racist mascots:
Quite often when speaking out and educating others about the mascot issue, the same question is asked, “Why are you people worried about mascots? Don't you have bigger issues to worry about on the reservations?”

Native people, likewise, will also ask, “Why are we (indigenous peoples) fighting the mascot issue when there are bigger issues to fight?”

Oh yes, the bigger issues question. What most people seem to be referring to are the many issues which plague Native American communities. Societal problems such as violence against women, suicide, alcoholism, high unemployment rates on reservations, poverty, etc. Many of these issues have been highlighted throughout the history of Native American people, through various studies, articles, documentaries, movies, so on and so on.

I grew up in this ever-so-familiar way of poverty and destruction, in all those ‘bigger issues’ people talk about. My very existence is a symptom of that. I understand it very well; I’ve been accustomed to it, and in many ways it has made me the very resilient person I am today. I understand the struggles of ‘poverty’ and in many ways, I continue to live in that struggle.

So when people tell me we should be worrying about those “bigger issues,” a part of me smiles within, not because it's funny, but because I empathize and further because I know it all too well.

Get the Story:
Amanda Blackhorse: This Is What Dehumanization Looks Like (Indian Country Today 3/20)

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