Opinion | Sports

Raymond Foxworth: Tribal opposition to racist names still matters






National Congress of American Indians President Brian Cladoosby sports a "Rethink" t-shirt. Nearly every major tribal organization -- including NCAI, the National Indian Education Association and the National Indian Gaming Association, along with dozens of individual tribes -- have spoken out against the use of racist mascots in sports. Photo from NCAI

Do the results of a new poll mean that the NFL team's racist mascot is acceptable? Raymond Foxworth (Navajo) looks closer at the controversy;
Indian Country is abuzz over the Washington Post poll that purports nine in 10 ordinary Native Americans are not offended by the Washington Redskins’ name. Indian Country has displayed the full range of emotion, including laugher at the Post for thinking it has really captured accurate attitudes of Native people, to anger and outright dismissal of the results. Some non-Indians have taken this data as significant evidence that Native people should be honored by the Redskins moniker (like the Post effectively endorsing the moniker, announcing it would no longer support the “Change the Mascot” movement), and some Indian allies have tried to unpack the true motive and intent of the survey. But before we all rush to judgment and laugh, cry or unleash a siege of fury, let’s put this so-called damning information into context.

Issues of race and ethnicity have always been prominent within public opinion research. Some scholars even trace the evolution of demography and social statistics to the need to define racial and ethnic groups and understand differences between populations. Today, almost every survey asks respondents about race and ethnic classification and probes about in-group and out-group attitudes to assess levels of hostility and tension. For example, during the 1940s, survey polls asked American citizens about segregation in the U.S., where public opinion overwhelmingly favored these discriminatory policies. Similar polls about other racist, sexist and discriminatory policies and events have existed throughout history.

Get the Story:
Raymond Foxworth: Skins Poll: Tribes Have Spoken, Which Is All That Matters (Indian Country Today 5/27)

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