The Instigator
jrschenck
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
mc9
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points

Indian Mascots

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/15/2016 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 651 times Debate No: 85054
Debate Rounds (5)
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jrschenck

Con

There is some debate in the US about using Indian Mascots. From the Cleveland Indians to the Kansas City Chiefs to my own High School Molalla Indians. It has been argued that these mascots are racist and do more harm than good. On the flip side people claim they install pride in a community and is a way of honoring a brave and proud people.
My focus is on how the Mascot is used in the United States. I would posit that 1- the caricatures and imagery used do not represent the Native Americans, not even in a general way. 2- The use is racist and perpetuates racial attitudes among the dominating European Americans. 3-That even if it is used in a positive manner, it still has a detrimental effect on a minority culture. And 4-the importance to listen to the concerns of the minority on this topic.
I will take the Con, against using Indian Mascots. My opponent will obviously take the pro. I would assume that if my opponent"s counter to my arguments don"t necessary support the using the Indian Mascot that my opponent will enter in their own arguments to support the Mascots. As an example if they were to refute the imagery as not being racist, it does not automatically default as proof of using the Mascot. You must prove that using the Mascot has an overwhelming positive affect that will negate any negative.
The burden of proof is on both of us. I look forward to this debate. Thank you.
mc9

Pro

Thank you for this debate I accept and await your arguments.
Debate Round No. 1
jrschenck

Con

Mc9, thank you for accepting. I look forward to what you bring to the table.

I"ll expand on my 4 main points.

1-the caricatures that the vast majority of Indian Mascots only represent an idealized version of Native Americans. From Chief Wahoo of the Cleveland Indians to Chief Illiniwek (retired, 2007) of the University of Illinois do not represent the local indigenous groups. They are often portrayed as an idealized Plains Indian which does not represent the Native Americans in general and especially not locally. If the claim that the use of these mascots is to honor them, how is it an honor to ignore their culture?

2-The imagery associated with the Mascots is of valor, strength, courage, all good qualities to be sure, but also limiting. Wisdom, and kindness are not. From a study by Stephanie Fryberg (http://www.indianmascots.com... p4) shows that out of the top 20 words associated with Indians, only one, casino, is a modern term. The rest describe Native Americans in stereotypical ways of a perceived historical version. And only two, reservation and Trail of Tears, indicate any of the tragedy Native Americans experienced. The stereotype cements the image that Indians are only historical and of no contemporary relevance today. It devalues their current fight for civil rights and ignores their current challenges with poverty. Also the stereotype has a negative effect in forming opinions of American Indian by non-natives. In a study by Dr's. Chaney, Burke and Burkely (http://www.ucdenver.edu...(1)_Chaney_Do_American_Indian_Mascots_42-60.pdf p 54) shows that Indian Mascots have a negative image with non-natives and this is reflected in non-natives attitudes towards Native Americans.

3-From the above study by Fryberg shows that even a positive connection with Indian Mascots creates a negative self-esteem among Native Americans, lowers community efficacy (believe in ones community to improve itself) and limits achievement goals (p6). Low self-esteem, low achievement goals and a belief in no community support creates depression which often leads to suicide (http://www.jaacap.com...(09)63603-0/abstract?cc=y= ) Native American children have some of the nation"s highest rates of suicide. http://www.sprc.org...

4-Why would this be important? Why should a minority voice have priority over the majority? If we lived in a class system we could mark the Native Americans as that unfortunate class and go about our merry ways. However we live in a country that espouses universal freedom and equality. Jefferson"s "all men are created equal," from The Declaration of Independence forms the political philosophy for this ideal. Granted it was originally meant for white male landowners but that franchise of equality was soon spread to all white males. After the 13th amendment the franchise was extended to all male US citizens, after the 19th amendment all male and female US citizens had full rights. And finally in 1924 with the Indian Citizen Act, this concept of equality was extended to all. This move towards full equality is part of the fabric of our political lives. To perpetuate a stereotype that has proved negative effects on a group of people is to make them into second class citizens, contrary to our political and constitutional system.
mc9

Pro

Thanks to jrs for creating this debate and I hope it’s a great one.

1-the caricatures that the vast majority of Indian Mascots only represent an idealized version of Native Americans. From Chief Wahoo of the Cleveland Indians to Chief Illiniwek (retired, 2007) of the University of Illinois do not represent the local indigenous groups. They are often portrayed as an idealized Plains Indian which does not represent the Native Americans in general and especially not locally. If the claim that the use of these mascots is to honor them, how is it an honor to ignore their culture?

I ask, why do the mascots have to represent the LOCAL Indian groups, they don’t have to be similar in order to honor them, and this doesn’t show how they are offensive.


2-The imagery associated with the Mascots is of valor, strength, courage, all good qualities to be sure, but also limiting. Wisdom, and kindness are not. From a study by Stephanie Fryberg (
http://www.indianmascots.com...... p4) shows that out of the top 20 words associated with Indians, only one, casino, is a modern term. The rest describe Native Americans in stereotypical ways of a perceived historical version. And only two, reservation and Trail of Tears, indicate any of the tragedy Native Americans experienced. The stereotype cements the image that Indians are only historical and of no contemporary relevance today. It devalues their current fight for civil rights and ignores their current challenges with poverty. Also the stereotype has a negative effect in forming opinions of American Indian by non-natives. In a study by Dr's. Chaney, Burke and Burkely (http://www.ucdenver.edu......(1)_Chaney_Do_American_Indian_Mascots_42-60.pdf p 54) shows that Indian Mascots have a negative image with non-natives and this is reflected in non-natives attitudes towards Native Americans.

Indian mascots do not necessarily have stereotypes about them, maybe they need changed but they aren’t inherently bad.



3-From the above study by Fryberg shows that even a positive connection with Indian Mascots creates a negative self-esteem among Native Americans, lowers community efficacy (believe in ones community to improve itself) and limits achievement goals (p6). Low self-esteem, low achievement goals and a belief in no community support creates depression which often leads to suicide (
http://www.jaacap.com......(09)63603-0/abstract?cc=y= ) Native American children have some of the nation"s highest rates of suicide. http://www.sprc.org......

The rate of suicide is easily attributed to other things, such as the living conditions, http://www.nrcprograms.org...

https://www.pbs.org...

as you can see many natives in reservations live below the poverty line as well as there being various other problems with them, therefore the rates of suicide are not easily attributable to something as insignifigant as a mascot.


4-Why would this be important? Why should a minority voice have priority over the majority? If we lived in a class system we could mark the Native Americans as that unfortunate class and go about our merry ways. However we live in a country that espouses universal freedom and equality. Jefferson"s "all men are created equal," from The Declaration of Independence forms the political philosophy for this ideal. Granted it was originally meant for white male landowners but that franchise of equality was soon spread to all white males. After the 13th amendment the franchise was extended to all male US citizens, after the 19th amendment all male and female US citizens had full rights. And finally in 1924 with the Indian Citizen Act, this concept of equality was extended to all. This move towards full equality is part of the fabric of our political lives. To perpetuate a stereotype that has proved negative effects on a group of people is to make them into second class citizens, contrary to our political and constitutional system.

As you can see the mascots are actually approved

"California Indian Tribe Backs School's 'Redskins' Mascot." Breitbart News. N.p., 01 Oct. 2015. Web. 16 Jan. 2016.

<http://www.breitbart.com...;.

http://washington.cbslocal.com...

Now native American schools actually use this term as well as you can easily see, so therefore it is not actually too unapproved.

History doesn’t mean how it’s used today, and I ask you this, would having a mascot that happens to be white be offensive to whites, (i.e a cowboy)

Debate Round No. 2
jrschenck

Con

"I ask, why do the mascots have to represent the LOCAL Indian groups, they don"t have to be similar in order to honor them, and this does"t show how they are offensive."

The qualities placed on the majority based on perceived images of the few is hardly representative of the Native American population. This is the definition of stereotyping, very close to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary"s simple definition of stereotyping ("to believe unfairly that all people or things with a particular characteristic are the same," http://www.merriam-webster.com...).

Native Americans are called Indians, they call themselves Indians and they perceive themselves as Indians. Yet the Mascots are caricatures that they cannot identify with. This type of stereotyping, even if it was meant to honor, even if some Native Americans like them, lowers their overall self-esteem according the Fryberg study above. Meaning that with the dearth of positive images of Indians, the few national perceptions of Native Americans as mascots, the best they can do is to become something they are not.

It seems that we have introduced a couple of concepts for this point. I am not actually arguing that Indian Mascots are offensive, just that they do not represent Native Americans. There is such a variety of portrayals out there, some offensive, some not so much. But I will argue that the stereotype has a detrimental effect.

"Indian mascots do not necessarily have stereotypes about them, maybe they need changed but they aren"t inherently bad."

Once again the studies from Fryberg above show otherwise. The Indian Mascots are associated with stereotypes. Once again based on the studies of Dr's Chaney, Burke and Burkely from above, the Indian Mascot elicits negative imagery of Native Americans by non-natives. This in itself makes the mascots, as presented, inherently bad. Combining the Fryberg"s study (p8) that Indian Mascots also increases the self-esteem of non-natives, fits the definition of racism, where one group feels superior to another.

If you are arguing that the Indian Mascot needs to change under the influence of the registered tribe"s guidance, I would agree and admit that my original statement may have been too vague.

"The rate of suicide is easily attributed to other things, such as the living conditions, http://www.nrcprograms.org......
https://www.pbs.org......
as you can see many natives in reservations live below the poverty line as well as there being various other problems with them, therefore the rates of suicide are not easily attributable to something as insignificant as a mascot."

Indian Mascots may not be the one and only reason for the poverty, alcoholism and suicides but it plays a significant part. The two links you provided are great examples of community efficacy, a reality that influences perception. When these community members are exposed to Indian Mascots they do not believe their community can get better, it lowers their expectations of what their community can do, (Fryberg p6). The stereotypes have an effect on how Native Americans feel they can pull themselves out of poverty. The general feeling of despair is exacerbated by the negative perspective they have of themselves and their community when exposed to Indian Mascots.

"As you can see the mascots are actually approved
"California Indian Tribe Backs School's 'Redskins' Mascot." Breitbart News. N.p., 01 Oct. 2015. Web. 16 Jan. 2016.
<http://www.breitbart.com......;.
http://washington.cbslocal.com......
Now Native American schools actually use this term as well as you can easily see, so therefore it is not actually too unapproved.
History doesn"t mean how it"s used today, and I ask you this, would having a mascot that happens to be white be offensive to whites, (i.e. a cowboy)"

Once again if you are arguing the need for change under the aegis of the registered tribes I won"t argue that and apologize for the vagueness of my original statements. Twice in one round can"t be good.

However, for the rest of your last comment. The difference between a Caucasian Mascot and an Indian Mascot is the power imbalance between the two. The dominate culture has a plethora of images they can draw on to make themselves feel good. The cowboys, pioneers, prospectors, homesteaders, even the farmer, all have positive images associated with them. When the dominate culture co-opts Native American imagery and re-cast if for themselves they are exerting their privilege to take what they want, when they want from the minority group. This creates the minority into a second class citizens which, as I stated above, is not part of our political philosophy. When using white Mascots the dominate culture is crafting positive imagery to boost their self-esteem. When co-opting Native American Mascots they are creating positive imagery to boost their self-esteem but at the expense of the Native American"s. When Native American schools use Indian Mascots they are crafting their own identity with their own history, not at the expense of another group.
mc9

Pro

mc9 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
jrschenck

Con

It seems the enthusiasm for this debate is waning.
My opponent forfeited the last round so I will summarize the debate.

I claim that the Indian Mascot imagery does not represent Native Americans even in a general way. My opponent asks, why does that matter. Why is it necessary to represent any local group at all in order to honor them? I responded by saying that is the very definition of stereotypes. And there is a whole body of peer reviewed work that shows the detrimental effect of stereotyping. If it is detrimental how is that honoring.

I argued, based on the peer reviewed studies, that Indian Mascots lowers self-esteem, lowers ones perception on the value of ones community to help itself. This increases the depression and despair of a community, which I would argue adds to the suicide, poverty and alcoholism that are at higher rates with Native Americans than with the rest of society. My opponent hasn"t successfully refuted that.

I also argued that this creates a second class citizens and this is incompatible with our political philosophy of equality. My opponent has not offered any arguments to the contrary.

My opponent has asked what the difference is between Indian Mascots and their European counterparts. I would argue that this is a power imbalance. When a group uses imagery from their own history, they are taking ownership of something that is part of their group. When using imagery from another group, especially the dominated group, they are taking those images and re-crafting them for their own purposes. Yet those re-crafted images still reflect on the Native Americans, creating the negative stereotypes that are harmful.

My opponent suggested that the Indian Mascots need to be changed and not eliminated and I would concede that if under the direction of the registered tribes, that would be a good thing.

I hope that was a reasonable summary.
mc9

Pro

mc9 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
jrschenck

Con

Looks like my opponent has lost interest.

One last summary.

Based on studies cited above Indian Mascots perpetuate stereotypes. These stereotypes are inherently bad as they lower the group"s collective self-esteem and lowers the positive view of their community. The low self-esteem and low community view affects the poverty, alcoholism and suicide among Native Americans. This in effect creates a second class citizen, one where they have little political power, less access to resources and should concede to the dominate culture. This is counter to our political philosophy of equality.

The importance of Mascots in general is they are symbolic. The importance of symbolism, once again from the studies above, shape the cultures perspective. They influence the way we think. Mascots do increase people"s self-esteem. We take symbols and make them reflect the values of our history and culture. We are still creating stereotypes but ones that we want to be associated with. When we borrow other cultures symbols we are perpetuating the negative stereotypes. Indian Mascots do make us, the dominant culture, feel good about ourselves but at the expense of the Native Americans.

This has been an uneventful debate. If any one wishes to critic it, please do so. I would like to know.
mc9

Pro

mc9 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
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