One More Symbol to Wipe Out

The Nazi flag has been designated to the landfill of history. The Confederate flag is about to come down in South Carolina. Unfortunately, one flag still flies high in our nation’s capital, the flag of the Washington R-Word, an emblem of suffering, shame and racism to indigenous people in the USA.

During the Confederate flag controversy triggered by the mass murder and hate crime by White supremacist Dylann Roof, Jon Stewart, host of the Daily Show remarked how the “racial wallpaper” of the USA is slowing being taken down.

Not so in Washington, DC. Isn’t it ironic that the headquarters of the so-called greatest democracy in the world and the place where American Indian policy and law is debated enshrines the most offensive word you could ever say to an American Indian?

The following studies are small samples of the effects rendered by American Indian mascots, logos, team names and descriptions like the R-Word.

1. A study by Chaney, Burke, and Burkley (2011) found that when exposed to offensive American Indian mascots, people are unable to separate racist American Indian mascots from actual American Indian people.

2. In their study on the effects of non-Indians, Kim-Prieto, Okazaki, Goldstein, and Kirschner (2009) noted that exposure to American Indian mascots promoted objectification of other minority groups.

3. Steinfeldt et al. (2010) this study examined racism as expressed in online forums regarding attitudes about American Indians. People who reside in the majority culture create a false connection between themselves and American Indians by assuming that American Indians feel honored by racist mascots.

4. A 2011 study by LaRocque et al. looked at the emotional impact felt by 33 American Indian college students and 36 majority culture students when viewing American Indian mascots. American Indian students experienced significantly higher levels of psychological distress when observing even neutral images of American Indian mascots.

5. Freng and Willis-Esqueda, in 2011 concluded that when American Indians are exposed to American Indian mascots, they exhibit more negative feelings as compared to the viewing of other images.

As the final icon of hate, oppression, racism and crimes against African Americans, the Confederate flag comes down across the country. Isn’t it time that one of the most visible symbols of violence against our country’s first citizens be wiped out as well.

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