Cultures are not mascots

The California state assembly’s education committee unanimously approved legislation that would finally ban schools from using or continuing to use the offensive term Redskins as their mascot last week.

Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Salinas, initiated the legislation in December 2014 after the legislature criticized Washington for continuing to use the term as a name for its NFL team and four of its high schools’ mascots.

Similar legislation was passed in 2004 by the California legislature, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it, and schools have continued to use the term.

Redskins, in American culture, incorrectly refers to the people of Native American ancestry. It has two possible English origins; one stating it refers to the red paint they wore on their faces, and the other stating it refers to Native Americans being scalped. Regardless of its origin, the term is offensive in today’s culture.

Those who oppose the California legislation say the term in not offensive and refers to language scholar Ives Goddard’s meaning of the term. In his studies Goddard found that the term is derived from Native American phrases combining the color red with terms for flesh, skin and man, according to slate.com’s article “The Real History of the Word Redskin.”

Although there is much debate about the origin of the term and whether or not it is actually offensive, given the United State’s has had a historically unstable relationship with Native American tribes, it is best to show respect and stop acknowledging the word in American culture, especially in our educational institutions.

Several protests have been held since the name became the center of controversy in the NFL and now protestors are pushing for the term to be banned altogether. The United States prides itself on being a progressive country, but the fact that legislation regarding the use of this term has previously been vetoed makes the country’s progression questionable.

New York, Colorado, Oregon and Oklahoma have already passed similar legislation and changed schools’ names and mascots.

Now it is time for California to follow in their path. The current legislation still needs to be approved by the Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media Committee, the entire legislature and ultimately Gov. Jerry Brown.

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