California Schools Are Getting Rid Of Racist Mascots

Photo: Michael Alvarez.
California just put into action something that deserves to become a nationwide trend: The state officially prohibited its schools from using the racist "Redskins" as a team name or mascot on Sunday. Governor Jerry Brown signed the law on Sunday morning, making California the first state in the nation to pledge to eliminate the offensive term.

Only a small number of students will actually have to get new gear when the ban goes into effect on January 1, 2017; according to NBC News, just four schools are thought to still use the nickname, but when a state as big as California decides to confront racism and America's ugly history of oppressing Native Americans, it's going to start a conversation elsewhere.

Colorado is already taking baby steps toward progress: Last week, Gov. John Hickenlooper created a task force on Native American high school mascots. Towns with school teams that use Native American mascots or offensive team names will now have monthly meetings with the task force to find a compromise that is more culturally sensitive and historically accurate.

The National Congress of Native Americans thanked California legislators for "standing on the right side of history by bringing an end to the use of the demeaning and damaging R-word slur in the state's schools."

California's move means that there will be high school students more racially sensitive than Washington, D.C., football team owner Dan Snyder. Snyder has defiantly refused to change his team's name, despite condemnation from Native American groups, newspaper editorial pages, many sports fans, and even President Obama. The U.S. Patent Office also canceled the team's trademark last year because the name is "disparaging."

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