A Landmark State Law
For the first time in the history of our country, a state-wide law has been passed allowing the ban of race-based logos and mascots from sports teams. The state is Wisconsin, and the law has been brewing for some 30 years. In it, people may submit formal complaints to the state. If the complaint holds up, the offending school could face fines of up to $1,000 a day for continued use.
Read more about the law here.
What does this have to do with my Braves?
The National Congress of American Indians last challenged the use of Native American mascots 42 years ago. The use of Native American names and images are still widely used by high schools and colleges for sports teams. And then there are the professional teams; the Blackhawks, Indians, Redskins, Chiefs and of course, our beloved Braves among others.
Per the article, some think this law has ramifications beyond precedent:
For decades, Native American civil rights groups have called on these teams to change their names. They've had little success. But Dave Czesniuk, of the Boston-based group Sport in Society, thinks the Wisconsin law may turn out to be a game-changer.
"I think what's going on in Wisconsin is exciting, and it's a true sign of real change," he says. "You know, social responsibility is on the rise, even in the ranks of professional sports and the corporate level."
Czesniuk says attitudes have changed since the 1970s, when an estimated 3,000 schools and colleges had Indian mascots. He says the key to making the case is teaching team officials and fans how they perpetuate stereotypes and hurt some Native Americans.
The argument, and in my opinion the case with the Atlanta Braves is that we are in fact honoring the tradition and heritage of "braves" rather than demeaning and harming a race of peoples. But what does a white guy from Alabama know about that?
Here's a litmus test for racial sensitivity and it's usage: swap out the race. How long would the Washington Blackskins last? Our history is rich with failure in regards to racial equality, but with each generation prejudice and memories fade into history. Have we as a country made amends to the Native Americans? Probably not, but is this how we do it? Generically re-branding sports teams?
Note: please discuss, but I urge you to offer the same respect and consideration that you desire and expect to receive.