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“What’s in a name ? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet;” Those are words from William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet as Juliet tries to make the point that the family name that her lover Romeo has, one that is the enemy of her family name because of family feud , isn’t what should matter between them and their love for each other and only serves as a false identity to the real man. Yet today in our society of sports teams and school mascots we can see the same kind of an issue occurring. People so wrapped up in the identity of the mascot of their school or sports team that they are willing to commit violence in an effort to defend it. Have we become so attached to what is truly a false identity to the point we are willing to harm others in its name ? The professional football team from Washington D.C. carries a name that is seen by the majority of Native American people as not just a racial or offensive term, but one that carries a history of violence with it. Yet the team’s owner Dan Snyder has vowed never to change it and thousands of the team’s fans are so proud of it they would be willing to commit offensive acts of insults and violence against other human beings in defense of it. This isn’t some false reality from one of Shakespeare’s plays, this is our reality today. Again to quote the lover Juliet “that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet;” That team isn’t truly the competitive athletes they are because of that name, are they ? No matter what name they could choose to change it to, would this change suddenly somehow remove some mojo that makes them a team with a strong winning history and forever curse them as losers ? I cannot bring myself to believe this unless the team somehow draws its competitive strength from knowing their name is offensive to millions of people Native and non-Native alike.
This brings me to the latest incident of violence committed in the name of a mascot and the reason why that although I am not a writer by trade has made me sit down and put these words together. I am speaking of the assault of a 14 year old Native young man who found the mascot name “Redman” that was used by another high school as offensive and was exercising his right to protest this name by non-violent means in handing out t-shirts with the term “Not your Mascots” on the front of them. For this “crime” he was surrounded by students from the other high school in a bathroom and physically assaulted. The details of which was brought to light by this article at the lastrealindians.com website Native Youth Beaten For Taking a Stand Against Redmen Mascot
Whether one is of Native or non-Native decent I would seriously hope you would neither defend or condone such action against another human being. This kind of action is being committed in the name of a mascot, in this case a school mascot, upon someone who was simply voicing their objection to what they see as offensive. Why is it we have reached a point of false pride over a mascot name that we continue to use violence, either by insults or physical violence, against other people ? These kinds of acts are in fact inhuman and play toward the pride of the false self that deceives us and makes us think and act in ways that are the opposite of how The Creator has tried to help us understand the way in which we are supposed to treat one another. All people, everywhere, no matter what their racial, ethnic, religious or cultural background. We are all members of one race, the human family, and just like any large family there is going to be some of our brothers and sisters who we may not agree with, always understand, or act in ways that are contrary to our own beliefs. But we cannot continue down this road of being insulting and violent towards one another, especially in defense of a symbolic representation of a school or sports team. This kind of example is now obviously corrupting the minds of our youth as they are also resorting to the examples that are being set by the adults around them and engaging in the same kinds of inhuman action towards our family members. It is time to take off the false masks and stop hiding behind a symbol. Stop allowing violence to occur in their defense. That is unless we have reached a point in which we are willing to accept the mask of the mascot has become our real face now.