On Racist Mascot Naming, New York’s Effort to Quell the Practice, and “Land Acknowledgements”

A map showing the early localizations of Native American populations in the State of New York. (Public Domain)

In an opinion piece in The Washington Post, Kate Cohen argues that educational institutions are making incremental steps toward creating a more inclusive and diverse environment for students, citing the State of New York’s recent decision to prohibit schools’ use of Native American mascots by the end of the year. Cohen points out, however, that “land acknowledgements” can result in the same ends as the mascot:

“Land acknowledgments risk doing — albeit in a far less offensive way — what mascots do: relegate Native people to a hazy past, while relieving us of the responsibility to do anything to know or help Native Americans in the present. No institution should get to make a land acknowledgment unless it is also backing it up with action, whether financial, political or educational. A university, for instance, could offer courses in Indigenous languages, grant free tuition to Native students, repatriate tribal artifacts and even return land.”

Read more over at The Washington Post.