Monday, September 28, 2009
Tony Gonzales: Redskins is our 'N' word
To: Mr. Al Saracevic,
San Francisco Chronicle Sports Editor
By Tony Gonzales
I thank you, and Mr. Scott Ostler of Sunday Punch sports section for today’s article, which I consider it a follow-up to Ms. Knapp’s coverage of Atlanta Braves game in the CITY last May, concerning the mascot issue.
Your article is timely and appropriate which also gives the American Indian community a reprieve from a big societal wrong. As you are aware the campaign for change, and addressing mascots in sports, has a history and goes to the heart and opportunity, of having to report another form of institutionalized racism.
We, the first peoples of this continent, deserve much more than having negative images of our peoples’ and culture rendered to a form of mere entertainment. How can our treaties with the U.S. Government be taken seriously?
Indians are people not mascots! Often times when we protest this outrages practice at stadiums and coliseums, such as we did on September 19, 2009 in Oakland against the Cleveland Indians (A’s won!) the public would ask “But it doesn’t hurt anyone, so why bother changing it?”
This is a common misconception. These stereotypes and caricatures hurt both Indians and non-Indians alike. The impact these images have on Indian Peoples can be quite serious, particularly to the young. Non-Indians might feel quite differently about this subject, if the only images their children had to identify with in the society around them were stereotypes and caricatures. This can seriously damage their self-esteem and their ability to succeed in the world.
Also, Indian children, like any others are taught to respect their parents and to emulate their culture, traditions and values. However, it can be very confusing for young people to see their parents and their culture being mimicked and lampooned.
As a result of the ways in which Indian culture is denigrated, American Indians suffer from the highest rate of teenage suicide, school drop-out rates, alcohol and drug addiction and health care problems. As for non-Indians, the worst thing is that continuous association of Indians with these stereotypes, can encourage an unreal idea of who Indians are.
This can lead to a refusal to accept real Indians and their culture.
In addition, the power of these stereotypes can also cause non-Indians to be misled or duped by unscrupulous people who “dress up” in buckskin and feathers in order to fool non-Indians. Often, these imposters engage in such fraudulent activity in order to deceive the public and separate naive individuals from their money!
Finally, and in this regard, I recommend give recognition to an American Indian considered the greatest ball player of his time, and is in the Hall of Fame; and first to break the color barrier for all peoples, not just blacks like Jackie Robinson did for his peoples but none other than Charles Albert Bender of the Ojibwe Nation (1884-1954). He was a pitcher in major league baseball during the first two decades of the 20th Century. Now there is another great story in the annals of baseball in America.
Thank’s again and a big AJO to y’all!!