Published November 6, 2015
PORTLAND, OREGON – adidas announced that they will leading a nationwide initiative to provide financial assistance to schools wanting to remove harmful and stereotypical Native imagery and symbolism from their logos and mascots. They will also be a founding member of a new coalition led effort to find viable solutions in the handling the cultural misappropriation of native identities, culture and imagery through the use of Native mascots.
“Sports have the power to change lives,” said Eric Liedtke, adidas Group executive board member. “Sports give young people limitless potential. Young athletes have hope, they have desire and they have a will to win. Importantly, sports must be inclusive. Today, we are harnessing the influence of sports in our culture to lead change for our communities. adidas is proud to provide a pathway for high schools and communities who want to create new identities.”
Several studies, including a study by the American Psychological Association, conclude that the exposure of native youth to stereotypes and Native mascots is severely damaging to their self-esteem and affects the way that they view their identities. These studies have also shown that the use of Native Mascots negatively impact the way that native youth are viewed and treated by their peers; their performance and behavior in the classroom.
There are around 2,000 high schools left in the U.S. that still use racially degrading names and mascots, but advocates across the nation have been diligently working to reduce those numbers.
Sarah Adams Cornell, Activist-in-Residence at the OU Center for Social Justice, is one of those advocates and played a crucial role in changing the R-dskin name and mascot of Capitol High School in Oklahoma City.
“I’m encouraged to know that Adidas is joining a growing number of businesses that support ethical treatment of all people, especially our children. Their decision to financially support schools who move away from harmful Native American mascots is a great example of businesses supporting positive change within our communities,” she said when asked about the adidas’ initiative. “These racist mascots have a profound impact in the lives of our children. As a Native parent, I see it in my home. adidas’ contribution will have a great and lasting impact on, not only our Native children, but all children.”
Maggie Hundley, a founding board member of the non-profit <a href=”http://www.notyourmascots.org”>Not Your Mascots</a>, said, “I’m so happy that Adidas has announced their support for an end to racist mascots, team names, monikers and logos in school level sports. This sends a clear message to educators, coaches, students and the public that the self esteem and identity of Native youth is more important than a caricature or stereotype.
In their press release, Mark King, president of adidas Group North America, also stressed the importance of identity and inclusivity in schools.
“High school social identities are central to the lives of young athletes, so it’s important to create a climate that feels open to everyone who wants to compete. But the issue is much bigger. These social identities affect the whole student body and, really, entire communities. In many cities across our nation, the high school and its sports teams take center stage in the community and the mascot and team names become an everyday rallying cry.”