A Maine high school is getting a new mascot to replace the controversial Native American one it retired last year.
The Uncle Ben’s rice brand is getting a new name: Ben’s Original.
Parent firm Mars Inc. unveiled the change Wednesday for the 70-year-old brand, the latest company to drop a logo criticized as a racial stereotype. Packaging with the new name will hit stores next year.
“We listened to our associates and our customers and the time is right to make meaningful changes across society,” said Fiona Dawson, global president for Mars Food, multisales and global customers. “When you are making these changes, you are not going to please everyone. But it’s about doing the right thing, not the easy thing.”
The Chiefs have taken steps to address concerns over the use of Native American imagery. They banned Native headdresses and face paint at the stadium and changed the way the cheerleaders lead the chop, doing it with a closed fist instead of an open palm. Chiefs fans generally have said the changes do not bother them, but there are decidedly mixed opinions on whether those traditions should be allowed.
After extensive research into the etymology and history of the term “squaw,” both generally and specifically with respect to Squaw Valley, outreach to Native American groups, including the local Washoe Tribe, and outreach to the local and extended community, company leadership has decided it is time to drop the derogatory and offensive term “squaw” from the destination’s name.
Mutual of Omaha plans to replace its longtime corporate logo, which for 70 years has featured a depiction of a Native American chief. The move comes as corporations and sports teams around the country face increasing pressure to dump nicknames and depictions that reference American Indians amid a nationwide movement calling for racial justice.
Harv Hilowitz, of Stone Ridge NY, began a two-year odyssey to rid his town of an overtly racist image that was on a major road for over thirty years. The image was on public property, on a field set aside for children. It was the mascot of the “Indian Valley Little League” in Kerhonkson, NY.
In 2017, Hilowitz decided to approach this Little League organization in a spirit of neighborliness, to see if the mascot, logo, and associated imagery could be amicably changed.
Hilowitz attended a board meeting to discuss the issue and left the meeting feeling hopeful. However, at a followup meeting the board voted unanimously to keep the sign and symbol.
Hilowitz continued his fight into the next sports season but was told the board would not revisit the issue. Instead he went to the NY State Human Rights Commission and, more successfully, the Ulster County Human Rights Commission, where he was again invited to a board meeting. The commission then sent a letter to the Indian Valley Little League, but it would take Little League International changing its rule book to make a difference.
In January 2019, after a two year effort, and with the help of the National Congress of American Indians, Hilowitz was informed that Little League International had decided to enact a new official policy in its 2019 Rulebook: “Little League (Int’l) prohibits the use of team names, mascots, nicknames or logos that are racially insensitive, derogatory or discriminatory in nature. Little League (Int’l) requires all chartered local league programs, volunteers, as well as regular employees, to comply with the policy outlined above. Disciplinary action to address violations of the policy outlined above will be determined in the sole discretion of either the Charter Committee or Little League management, as applicable.” See https://www.littleleague.org/playing-rules/rulebook-updates/
In recent weeks, Hispanics and Native Americans have made up an increasing proportion of covid-19 deaths. The disease now accounts for nearly 20 percent of all deaths among those groups, higher than any other race or ethnicity in recent weeks, according to a Post analysis of the CDC data.
Cleveland Indians owner says executives will meet with Native American groups to discuss name change
The owner of the Major League Baseball (MLB) team the Cleveland Indians announced Thursday that the team’s executives plan to meet with Indigenous groups to discuss its name change.
The Washington football team will simply compete as the Washington Football Team for the upcoming season, sources informed NBC Sports
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
IMAGINING THE INDIAN Filmmakers’ Statement on the Washington Football Team Name Change
WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 13, 2020)
The Filmmakers behind Imagining the Indian, a documentary film currently in production at The Ciesla Foundation about the movement to eradicate Native American names, logos and mascots in the world of sports and beyond, proudly join in the celebration of the Washington Football Team’s decision to end the use of the most offensive Native American racial slur in professional sports! The trailer for Imagining the Indian can be viewed at the film’s website, www.imaginingtheindianfilm.org.
“The Washington football team’s name will no longer be a racist slur after 87 years thanks to the activism in the Native American community, especially shown by Suzan Harjo, and the moral consciousness currently displayed in the corporate community. Dan Snyder finally joins two other DC sports owners, Abe Pollin and Ted Lerner, in adopting new names for their teams,” said co-director Aviva Kempner.
“The retirement of Washington’s name and imagery has been a long time coming. Now we move on to what replaces these things, and I am hopeful that this is done respectfully and responsibly,” added co-director Ben West.
The filmmakers are excited to celebrate this victory for the movement, but recognize that it is only a battle in an ongoing war against Native American mascoting. While the Washington Football team was the most well-known purveyor of this brand of racism, Native American mascoting is still a pervasive evil in American culture.
The filmmakers are hopeful that the next name of the Washington Football Team franchise will avoid any connection to the team’s past offenses, but the lack of inclusion of Native Americans in the process to select the next name is troubling.
“The team is taking a racist approach to solving a racist problem,” noted co-producer Kevin Blackistone.
“It’s telling that this change was prompted by the bravery of the nation’s young protestors challenging systemic racism and injustices rather than the owner who was given every opportunity to answer that same call,” explained co-producer Sam Bardley.
One down, which is next? Atlanta Braves? Cleveland Indians? Kansas City Chiefs? Chicago Blackhawks? Golden State Warriors?
The filmmakers are available for interviews.
# # #
Contact Ciesla at firstname.lastname@example.org, Aviva Kempner at email@example.com, 202-244-1347, Ben West at firstname.lastname@example.org, Kevin Blackistone at email@example.com, and Sam Bardley at firstname.lastname@example.org
Witness the films traction, as several news outlets, subject matter experts and concerned citizens voice their support.
Kevin Blackistone, the co-producer of an upcoming film about the Washington Redskins and the push to change their name, explains why he has long been an opponent of the Redskins name.
Washington Should Avoid ‘Warriors’ or ‘Red Tails’ for New Team Name, ‘Imagining the Indian’ Directors Say
“I hope that it’s done responsibly. I think some of the names being kicked around right now are problematic, and anything including ‘Red’ in it, we need to start with a clean slate here, not try to hang onto any of the holdover from previous names and imagery,” West, a member of the Cheyenne nation, said of some of the popular options being floated around, such as Washington Warriors or Washington Red Tails. “In this case, the obvious problem is that if you replace the current name with that, aren’t all the same people in face paint playing Indian going to continue to do the same thing?”
Blackstone, one of the co-producers’ of a documentary film in production called “Imagining the Indian” about the movement to eradicate Native American names, logos and mascots in the world of sports and beyond, applauds the name change decision, but there is concern over the team’s messaging.
A discussion of the latest news in the football team’s name change and how indigenous communities have been stereotyped with Kevin Blackstone, Ray Halbritter and Tom Sherwood.
The Wrap – Washington Should Avoid ‘Warriors’ or ‘Red Tails’ for New Team Name, ‘Imagining the Indian’ Directors Say
Directors Aviva Kempner and Ben West, whose film focuses on the fight to change the team name, told TheWrap that team owner Dan Snyder’s decision retire the name is a huge step in the right direction, but they hope the team will start from scratch in picking a new name and logo and avoid anything equally offensive.
Blackistone is one of the co-producers’ of a documentary film in production called “Imagining the Indian” about the movement to eradicate Native American names, logos and mascots in the world of sports and beyond. While Blackistone and the other filmmakers behind “Imagining the Indian” applaud the name change decision, there is concern over the team’s messaging.
Our producer, Kevin Blackistone, discusses the latest news in the football team’s name change and learn how indigenous communities have been stereotyped on The Kojo Nnamdi Show.
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