My responses to the prompt on the Argument is Everywhere playlist:

When looking at this picture, the first judgments I make are that this is a person whose culture has been appropriated in an offensive way. This person is Native American, and their culture has been turned into a mascot. I think that making anyone’s culture into a mascot is extremely offensive. Mascots are often animals, and by turning cultures into mascots, we are basically saying that they are something to entertain us and they are different than the rest of us.

My position is that we should not create any mascots that are based off of cultures. Mascots are usually objects or animals, and no one should be objectified. I have evidence that supports this position because I have heard stories from people whose cultures have been turned into mascots or costumes, and they are not okay with it. They feel their sacred and personal culture being striped away and made into a joke or a form of entertainment. Parts of their culture that are worn or done have deep meaning that must be earned or accomplished, and when others wear or do these things just for fun it is highly offensive to what meaning it is meant to contain.

I see an argument coming up very quickly about whether it is disrespectful or an honor to have your culture represented. Many people who have not had their culture appropriated feel like it would be an honor for others to represent their culture. While it is fair for everyone to have their own opinions, I don’t think it should be up to those who are appropriating the culture to decide if it is disrespectful or not. If anyone feels disrespected or is not happy with a way their own culture is being depicted through representation or cultural appropriation, they get to decide that it is not okay, and it is our job to listen to them. Many people who are part of majorities do not know what it feels like to have their own special culture disrespected, so it is not in their place to decide how the situation should be handled.

CC BY-SA 4.0 Argument is Everywhere- Mascots by Lindsay is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

2 Comments
  1. Melissa 1 week ago

    Lin,
    I absolutely agree with you. Whether or not it is an honor it is for no one to decided besides those whose culture is being depicted. There is clearly a large degree of separation between kids dressing up as native americans and the Red Skins mascot but I think a hard line needs to be drawn on this topic. Strict rules are hard to come by and I usually disagree with them since most of life is so circumstantial. However this is a rare case where I am comfortable putting my foot down. Im surprised you did not bring up the red skins mascot or the name change of Columbus day in your article. However much i agree with you I think your argumentative article should address the other side of the debate. I think your position would be much more persuasive with clear examples, anecdotes from affected communities, and a dismissal of the opposing opinion.
    Thank you from a wonderful read! lots of love!
    – missy

  2. Zoe 2 weeks ago

    Lindsay, I liked your post. I would like to address your final paragraph. I definitely agree. I recently came across a post on twitter about a group of white teenagers who dressed up as native Americans for Halloween. The post was a Native American calling out these people, saying how what they were wearing is sacred and should not be worn as costume. The part that really disturbed me was when another white person commented, saying “It’s Halloween! Let them have fun! They’re kids! I don’t see how this is offensive. They’re appreciating their culture! Not appropriating it!” We must stop having this mindset that when a culture that you are not part of is being appropriated, that just because you don’t see it as being offensive, means that its not offensive. This is the same as with mascots.

    Appropriating vs Appreciation is a hard thing to learn, and since you’re talking about mascots, id like to bring up an example of how to teach people to understand the difference: The Utah Utes vs. The Redskins.

    The Utah Utes are a college team who’s mascot is the Ute tribe. The University of Utah has traditional Ute dancers every year for a half time show. Utah honors the Ute tribe, rather than objectifying them.

    The Washington Redskins however, are offensive. Referring to Native Americans as “Redskins” is an outdated and stereotypical term.

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