Racism Leads to Violence

rescue.jpg

Racism leads to violence. It always has and sadly always will. The current attention to athletes demonstrating protests during the USA National Anthem at sports' games seems to focus more on the flag than the violence being protested. Yet the racist sports teams' identities are the clearest indication of the racism and blindness to the damage stereotypes and caricatures of the team owners and leagues' managements continuing today. 

Here is a powerful and honest statement from the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell:

 http://www.mashpeewampanoagtribe-nsn.gov/blog/?p=909

 

September’s Chairman’s Message

Posted on September 18, 2017 by Cedric Cromwell

Greetings Tribal Family,

I originally wrote this as an op-ed that I submitted to several newspapers after the horrific events in Charlottesville. It’s an important message that needs to be spread and I wanted to share it with my people as well. As the Chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, that first welcomed the Pilgrims to America with an open hand of friendship in the Plymouth colony in 1620, I was horrified by the images of hate and terror that came out of Charlottesville, Virginia last week and am deeply disturbed by the divisiveness that has become our national identity. For nearly 400 years, my people have experienced the oppression and hateful vitriol we are seeing on full display in 2017 by white nationalists and so-called American Nazis whose mission is to take back “their country” by force and send the rest of us back to whence we came. But this is OUR country. It belongs to Native Americans and it belongs to our friends and partners of all nationalities, races, and religions, who believe in the ideal of America and what it stands for. The waving of Nazi flags is an insult to us all, and to those who have fought for and shed blood for our collective freedom, including our 96-year-old Chief Vernon “Silent Drum” Lopez. Chief Lopez was among the 156,000 Allied soldiers who landed on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944; his military service part of a long line of Wampanoag warriors who have fought on behalf of America in every major U.S. conflict going back to theRevolutionary War. Of course, the D-Day invasion not only marked a turning point in the eventual defeat and unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany, it was a watershed event in world history in which a diverse, multi-cultural alliance began to turn the tide against the dangerous ideology that there existed a single, pure, “master race” destined to rule the world.

My people are all too familiar with what we now bear witness to in Charlottesville and what we see even in our own backyard in Massachusetts where Swastikas and other symbols of denigration are too often found. Hundreds of years before terrorists were posting beheadings on social media, our Squaw Sachem Weetametoo’s decapitated head was paraded around the village of Taunton on the end of a pole as a symbol of racial terror.

Today, we stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters, our brothers and sisters in the African-American, Arab, Asian, Hispanic communities and all those who have been targeted and victimized simply because they may look different or that they pray to a different God. It is time for us all to understand that is these differences that make us stronger as Americans.

Our struggle continues on the front lines in the multi-generational fight for equality and in the courts where our Tribe and other disenfranchised groups still face an historic battle for sovereignty and respect. And yet, as descendants of the first people to inhabit this great land 12,000 years ago, we once again extend an open hand of friendship to the newest waves of immigrants and all those who are committed to the true American ideal, an ideal that celebrates diversity, tolerance and understanding. This is OUR America.

Kutâputunumuw

 Never forget. Never again. 

Never forget. Never again. 

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Important News--and It is Good News!

Important development: Masachusetts Senator Barbara A. L'Italien has submitted a bill at the requet of one of her constituents to prohibit the use of Native American Mascots by any public school in Massachusetts.  With over 40 public schools using race based stereotypical caricatures as Native American team identities, which are inherently racist, this is a very significant step forward

Here is the text:
Bill SD.1119
SECTION 1. Chapter 71 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after section 97 the following new section:-

Section 98. Prohibition on the use of Native American mascots to by public schools in the Commonwealth.

(a) As used in this section, “Native American mascot” means

a. A name, symbol, or image that depicts or refers to an American Indian tribe, individual, custom, or tradition that is used by a public school as a mascot, nickname, logo, letterhead, or team name

b. The use of the team name “Redskins, “Savages,” “Indians,” “Indianettes,” “Chiefs,” “Chieftains,” “Braves,” or “Redmen.”

(b) As used in this section, “public school” means a school or program operated by a school district, and education service district, or a public charter school.

(c) The use of any Native American mascot by a public school in the Commonwealth is prohibited.

Yakoo Editorial I Wrote in Quincy Sun

Here is the editoial Opinion piece which ran two weeks ago in the Quincy Sun (Massachusetts). They have a minimal online presence and I do have the pdf. but am having difficulties uploading it.

 This is the NQHS mascot.  Is it Racist? Of course! 

This is the NQHS mascot.

Is it Racist? Of course! 

"In a summer and year of violence nationwide arising from race based prejudice where far too many Americans, from praying parents to teachers to children to police officers, violently dying in our churches and on our streets it is time to ask a single question in Quincy:

Does Quincy, MA. the city and community formally approve and teach racism today, in 2016?

Sadly, the answer is yes. There is even official approval through the use of stereotyping. Happily, this can be changed. For the sake of all our children, for the sake of the community it must be changed.

Stereotyping is defined in the American Heritage ® Dictionary is giving to a group a “fixed, unvarying form” and a stereotype is any “conventional…and oversimplified conception, opinion or image.” Stereotypes always cause problems and when applied to any group of people create real harm and the potential for violence. This is especially true when the stereotype is race based, as recent history has shown. Stereotypes create problems because they limit a group of people to a single, usually untrue and frequently negative characteristic. Stereotypes hamper understanding and destroy mutual respect for the most simple reason imaginable: they are born from learned prejudices. Often the prejudice is not recognized, often it is taught in families and often it is excused in public as “just the truth” or “everyone knows this” or “it’s always been this way” or “everyone loves it.” My response to all these assertions is “Really? Please show me.”

Today North Quincy High School, the School Board, staff, administration and even Quincy City Hall have put themselves front and center in this discussion with their continued use of the North Quincy High School sports teams name “Red Raiders” and mascot “Yakoo.” I do know the history of “Yakoo”--Dr. Yacubian, now retired as a dentist, was a well-known football player on the “Red Raiders” team who is undoubtedly still proud to see his face on the team mascot even if he graduated in 1958 with the mascot reflecting the realities of that time frame, a time before our Civil Rights laws and voters rights bills were passed or even considered by most Americans, when segregation was widely accepted and schools were “separate but equal” in fact if not according to decisions by the US Supreme Court. In the past Yakoo survived various challenges. To both situations I say: “That was then, this is now.”

It is my hope that the community of Quincy, the professional school personnel and administration, the elected officials, the students and even Dr. Yacubian himself can acknowledge and accept that change is always a fundamental part of life. Creating a new team identity can be exciting and engaging for QNHS students and the entire community. No one can freeze time. Change can be a very good thing as well.

The truth is that today trademarked team identities are under serious legal challenge nationwide. Yakoo is trademarked, also indicating someone has a financial interest in perpetuating the image and team identity. The image and team identity teach NQHS students, the community and all the teams they play that racist stereotypes are acceptable and appropriate.

The racial nature of Yakoo is undeniable: buckskin fringed pants, moccasins, raised tomahawk, headband with a feather inserted in the traditional tribal manner, bare chest and arms prominently showcasing bright red skin. These combine to clearly indicate a violent, caricatured Native American fighter.

The “Raiders” in the name traces to an important even in Quincy history. Henry Adams’ eldest son Lieutenant Henry Adams, son of the first Henry Adams from England, was shot to death by “Indian” raiders during Metacomet’s War in 1675 or ‘76. These are the ancestors of both Presidents Adams who are now buried with their wives in the crypt under United First Parish Church in Quincy. It is worth considering if Quincy is still remembering almost 350 years later the Lieutenant’s death with a team identity tied to violence and a race based, primitive and demeaning mascot? This is not teaching history, it is revising and exploiting it.

The harm these stereotypes do to the Native American communities is real. According to Robert Roche, Native American activist “These awful and racist stereotypes create hostile environments from classrooms to playing fields to workplaces to boardrooms.”

Yakoo will always be a part of Quincy’s history. It is time he and the team name are retired with appropriate dignity as pieces from the past no longer having a place in the diverse, honorable city of Quincy today. As the future arrives with every new dawn Quincy, MA, a thriving, energetic modern city of the 21st century, can choose to do the right thing, bring the community together in creating a new, thrilling, strong and positive team identity at North Quincy High School "

Below is an image of the mascot Yakoo at North Quincy High School

You can query the Quincy Sun as to the fact the above piece ran, if interested, at http://thequincysun.com/ and look in the "about" link or
The Quincy Sun
1372 Hancock St.
Quincy, MA 02169
Phone: 617-471-3100
Fax: 617-472-3963
Publisher E-mail: rbosworth@thequincysun.com

Teaching Racism in 2016

Another school year is almost upon us. Is your child learning to be racist at their school? Before you say "Of course not!" please consider this: is the school sports team identity racist, Native American, stereotypical--or do the schools sports teams play schools with such team identities? Silence endorses so the mere presence of such teams in the roster, without discussion and, most importantly, action to bring about change peacefully through education, dialog and leadership will in fact endorse such racism. Supporting one stereotype validates the concept of stereotypes, in any and all situations, involving any and all groups. This does matter. 

In reality how bad is the situation, in Massachusetts where I live? Approximately 40 schools have race based team identities involving Native American imagery and names. Perhaps the team near the top of the offensive imagery ranking would be the North Quincy High School Red Raiders. While historically and technically supposedly not "Native American" as the facial image is reportedly that of a former football player at the school the team name coupled with a feather headress, moccasins and a tomahawk put to false the claims of "not really" an "Indian."

 This image hold pride and excellence for no one.

This image hold pride and excellence for no one.

This is not acceptable. It is racist. Our children deserve better, our communities deserve better. Silence endorses and it is time to change. This is the current, trademarked team mascot of the North Quincy High School Red Raiders in Quincy MA. It is not any kind of symbol of excellence. As for pride, this image, displayed throughout the NQHS, including a large graphic painted front and center on the gym floor where even visiting teams see the school, city and state approving of its legitimacy is an arrogant, power based racist image. It is a degrading, violent stereotype which deserves to be put into permanent retirement. The history of this image is irrelevant beyond the history books unless it becomes a teaching point around greater community dialog and understanding--after it is changed. In the 21st century our understanding has grown, our need to recognize and respect all people has been highlighted by the heartbreaking tragedies, violence and useless deaths of the recent past.

Community leaders can and must lead on this. New approaches and thinking are possible. However it is also time for the city's leadership to take a stand to simply refuse to continue the use of the image. How many more people must be killed before the City of Quincy and community leaders start doing everything they can to demonstrate respect for all people, the dignity and honor of the entire human race and the acceptance of the actual valid research and work done around the power of and damage done by stereotypes and stereotyping?

We as a country, Quincy as a community and as a city in Massachusetts, a state and early colony with a long and complex history now must face the truth: the stereotyping of one people perpetuates stereotyping any and all people. No group of people is empowered by a stereotype. We all are harmed by trivializing one and other. This image and team identity is violent, hostile and wrong. It must be changed. 

Do The Rules Ever Really Apply In Major League Baseball?

         This is a Warrior? Not anymore.                        Good news here. 

       This is a Warrior? Not anymore.

                   Good news here. 

Today Major League Baseball and the Boston Red Sox can take some lessons in following the right rules from a small Oregon School District. With the option to avoid change the Warrenton-Hammond School District chose for two of its schools teams, the Braves and the Warriors, through a unanimous vote Tuesday night 5/10/2016 to remove their Native American identity. While the public statements have reflected an awareness of the impact of imagery on Native American students those in education surely understand the impact of imagery on all students. They could have petitioned a local tribe to support the current team identity but chose the stronger path intentionally. The School Board should be proud. 

My personal experience over quite a few years though cautions me to be wary for them since often even the mention of the topic of sports' teams identities can be incendiary. Only those who like a fight step up but frequently they can be loud, persistent and insulting. I have never posted the comments I receive on Cleveland.com on MLB Home Opener Day when I bring up the team identity--which I always do with new information, presented politely and of course encouraging change. Suffice it to say the uber hostile trolls are fully engaged, ready for a fight--which I never give them--and always eager to get nastier than the previous troll's comment. I do thankfully have the option of flagging posts, a feature not available in person or in the earlier years past when I online. The number removed by Cleveland.com staff this year was noteworthy. 

       Cleveland MLB--Really? In 2016??  

     Cleveland MLB--Really? In 2016??  

In reality rebranding is always possible. When people are in a learning setting new facts, history and new perspectives nicely presented generally excite them. We humans are naturally curious creatures. Education can help establish new norms and a good approach for those who find themselves in conversational or teaching positions is, again in my experience, to start by asking questions. Essentially let the stalwart resistors fighting positive change convince themselves. In person, when everyone is clear headed sometimes real progress occurs.

Listen during the answers. Rarely, if ever, interrupt but do not let a pontificator control the situations. I promise with practice it gets much easier and quite a bit of fun. Learning some history around the issue, school, location, or given the topic, Native American history beyond the textbooks can in time let you expand the conversations. 

Some general questions, asked nicely and if possible with some humor can be:

  • You seem really fixed on the current identity? 
  • Why? I am just curious I guess. I'd like to understand. 
  • Well we all know life is about change--good change right? Even the seasons change and that's a good thing. Right?
  • We want to do right by our kids, well at least I know I do. Don't you? School is about learning, don't you think?
  • So by having the change we can teach our kids to be good, they can learn about history and how it is all about change and be leaders in the change. What's not to like? We aren't living in anything but the 21st century and we do have to prepare our kids for today?
                                              That was then.

                                            That was then.

                                                                                    This is now!      

                                                                                  This is now!      

There will be some who for whatever reason still resist but with community support, knowing other schools, even college teams have changed their identities and having someone on hand to present the research support for the power of images, support for the change can grow within the entire community and beyond. The few who continue to resist will likely go quiet in public but in general very few people want to be the last holdout for an unpopular social situation no matter what it is. Since everything in the questions is true somewhere deep inside those who essentially fear the change or fear life in general for (whatever reason do) still hold a light, maybe a tiny one, but a glow at least of acceptance and understanding. Maybe their personal team experience was tied to the old identity, maybe they have personal reasons to either ridicule or harbor feelings of revenge against the trivialized group--caricatures, never honor, they diminish and always trivialize. With some forethought and effort the courageous school board can do the community proud, come out building community spirit and truly educate the children for the 21st century connected world we all share today. The entire Warrenton-Hammond School System can be proud, too.

Now about those Red Sox--Boston team leadership still plays fast and loose with rules. The complete story is long but in essence already working under a penalty for questionable international recruiting practices the team recruiters repeated their previous behavior to the extent that the MLB is investigating AGAIN. I applaud Major League Baseball for the attempt at change. It is time though to make change a reality. Boston, are you listening? The opportunity here is truly huge. More on that next time. 

               Be someone good today.

             Be someone good today.

Making Change Happen

How do we change team identities? 

1. Create awareness of the issue through education and media.

2. Open conversations everywhere around a specific team--local to national.

3. Develop exciting alternative names and team identities.

4. Bring in those in power to the conversation, from players to fans to coaches to sponsors to all school administrators and community leaders, to team owners and politicial leaders.

5. Media, media and media-everywhere, everyone, all kinds and all formats.

6. Have votes or leaders making choices and decisions or whatever will make it happen--different situations require different approaches

 

The issue is too important to let an entrenched old school interest (or group or gang--of any kind) hold the issue of racism in sports teams' identities hostage. It is time for change. Any racial stereotype is bad, each and every stereotype supports all stereotypes, no matter the group involved. Start the chanage, be the change. Now.

A Change of Heart

On Monday April 4, 2016 at the scheduled, but eventually delayed, Cleveland, MLB home opener the white man who wore the redface and fake feather headress to the same game in 2014 showed up to the demonstration and apologized to Robert Roche the real Native American who shared the photo that went viral in 2014. The white man was wearing the same shirt but no makeup or headress. He apologized in person to Robert Roche and ovrer a bull horn to passerbys. It is time to change the name and racist logo of the team. This action on the part of Pedro Rodriguez shows change is possible. It is also necessary--for the MLB, for the team and for the city. 

 Understanding and respect can grow over time. Change does happen. 

Understanding and respect can grow over time. Change does happen. 

The BIG Game is Sunday--How BIG Is It?

Sunday, NFL Superbowl in Phoenix, AZ. Given the history of the NFL and indigenous issues this location is ironic. Yet most fans will be oblivious to the implications as they are too wrapped up in the game. It is the largest single annual sporting event. I would like to see this power brought to bear for good on the issue or racism. I have worked for close to 2 decades on this issue and while some progress is made obviously much remains to be done. Entrenched interests are powerful. Money, lots of money is involved. 

The amount of money around sports in general is all but impossible to calculate. For the single game on Sunday here are some examples

  • Legal gambling: $100M
  • Ad cost: $150,000/second, $4.5M/30 seconds
  • Ad revenue: $10M/ad
  • Ticket sales: average resale over $11,000/ticket
  • Benefits to region: estimated $500M

 

Even though the New Englad Patriots did not make the game this year because of contractural arrangements with the NFL and broadcasting rights they too will share in the profits. This does bring the issue of the continuing racism in all Major League sports organizations home to Massachusetts, where I now live. Every league has a team that is exploiting Native American indigeous identity for profit. These stereotypes promote racism and continue to teach our children that disparaging a race of people is appropriate and acceptable. How important is this to us? One week after the Super Bowl my local high school basketball team is playing the North Quiincy High School team, the Red Raiders. Here is their mascot:

Truthfully I am not surprised. I am saddened that this remains in front of our children in the 21st century. It is not surprising given the aggressive, degrading and racist state seal, pictured below, on the side of Massachusetts State Police cars as well as in our courthouses, city offices and legislatures. 

 The translation of the Latin on the ribbon is "By the sword we seek peace but peace only under liberty."

The translation of the Latin on the ribbon is "By the sword we seek peace but peace only under liberty."

It is time, today, to start the process of change. We are in fact all in this together. As I have often written and said: Humankind shares one home only, earth and we have to do it better. Start looking around, right where you are, where do you see racism? How can you begin to do the right thing, recognize it, start the process of change? Can you ask questions about it? On Sunday during the game ask about the Washington D.C. NFL team identity--why is Dan Snyder still allowed to promote overt racism? Could the team instead open a conversation around change, progress and new understanding? Maybe the conversation can start in Cleveland around the MLB team identity there? Or just maybe, right here in Massachusetts will our city, county, state and federal officials and agencies, our spiritual leaders and communities, our amazing schools and universities and yes, our great people and families see the responsibility we all share given the absolutely unique history of our state. Will they, will we have the courage to open the conversation? I have personally asked many to do just this, repeatedly, across all dividing lines and interests lines. Personally I do this with every post here. I am one woman and I cannot bring about this change alone. Will you join me? 

The truth is everyone alive today is a survivor of all that hs come before us. We share that status. By waking up and breathing today we can know that life is indeed good--if we choose, if we decide to take that perspective. Or we can become bitter, entrenched, defensive, greedy, arrogant, oblivious--the negative list is endless. For myself I choose the positive: hope, energy, love, connection and community. I say yes to each and every day--do you? 

Life is change and change is good!




Biology? To Create Positive Change Start With Facts

New, very current research is showing some brain differences around moral questions. Much more needs to be done, of course, but what if through training, social pressures and indoctrination, even when done with the best intentions, some differences amoung the human species may be anatomical? Take a breath if you are reading this and are immediately overwhelmed. I wrote differences, not better or worse. History only repeates if we forget asnd let it happen. No one walked the first time they stood up. We simply find a new, good way forward. More importantly in this case because of all we know about a certain part of human anatomy we do know for a fact that it can and does change throughout human life. 

 The Human Brain   

The Human Brain

 

Now about that research: in summary it involved some of the latest brain scan tech, volunteers from 3 different countries and stories with moral components. The stories were translated into the native languages of each volunteer and the underlying default mode network--yes that is a real thing--showed differences. The conclusion is that depending upon the country/language used varying amounts of energy at a statistically significant level were used when reading the stories with the moral quandries.

Think of it perhaps as various kinds of animals--crab, horse, giraffe--all are animals, our planet has and needs them all and yes, they are all different. A drought threatens them all, as would another ice age. Survival requires they change, adapt and perhaps live and work together.  They do have to find some way to communicate together too. We humans use language. We have learned that many species also have communication amongst themselves. However until we find a way to share understanding among people our anatomical differences may keep true shared communication as impossible as a crab communicating with a giraffe--except in cartoons of course. Here we are facing real life and real world situations.

For purposes of understanding assume the animals can communicate. The crab keeps what water there may be clean, the horse can run long distances to look around for the next place where their may be water and the giraffe can see danger coming from a long way away. This is not a childhood story, not given the actual research. But human racism sows the seeds of hatred and violence. Perpetuating racism, teaching racism supports division. Why do we tolerate it when change is certainly possible. Change, done well will even be profitable. Now, what are you doing to get everyone at least in the same building, if not the same room. Without all coming together we cannot find a way forward and alone no one will survive. Yet action itself is change. Reading this is giving you ideas to share, questions to ask. Do the first step. Start today!

 Begin your journey TODAY!

Begin your journey TODAY!