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Do Team Names Create Racially Hostile Environment?

Following reading "Justice Department Detects Discrimination Against Native Americans," discuss the following. If the federal government's argument regarding school nicknames is based on the premise that a public school should not be allowed to create a racially hostile environment that violates the civil rights of minority students, what are some of the specific points it needs to prove regarding the nicknames question? Discuss the points in terms of what the author said and in terms of whether you accept the validity of the arguments.

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Reprinted from the Mobile Press Register, July 18, 1990. Reprinted by permission.
Justice Department Detects Discrimination Against Native Americans
John Leo
Asheville, N.C., is the site of a brand-new legal question, never raised before in the annals of political correctness: Should the federal government be involved in determining the mascot or nickname of your local high school sports teams?
Erwin High School in Asheville is being investigated by the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division for using the nicknames "Warriors" and "Squaws" and for having students dressed as Indians at games and pep rallies. The investigation will center on whether the Indian theme creates a racially hostile environment that violates the civil rights of Indian students, according to a letter sent to the school system by Bill Lann Lee, acting head of the Civil Rights Division, and Lawrence Baca, a department attorney. The letter was a response to a complaint from an Asheville nurse, Pat Merzlak, a Lakota Sioux Indian.
Some Indian activists and their allies have campaigned against Indian nicknames for years. Some 600 schools have dropped these names. More than 2500 have not. But so far, the Justice Department has never tried to intervene. This is a first. It is also a fresh example of how broad concepts like "hostile environment" and "racial harassment" are constantly being extended from serious issues to minor and symbolic ones.
On the nickname issue, a reasonable case can be made on either side. Indian activists say that it's wrong to use living people as mascots. But on the college level alone, teams are named for Gaels, Scots, Norsemen, Dutch and the Fighting Irish, as well as Seminoles, Chippewa, Aztecs and the Fighting Sioux. Some nicknames certainly sound like slurs?Redskins and Redmen?but most Americans don't think that Braves, Chiefs, Warriors or famous tribal names fit into this category.
Most Indian names were adopted to indicate that the teams using them have a fierce fighting spirit. This may help promote a stereotype of Indians as savage or hopelessly primitive, particularly when war whoops and tomahawk chops are part of the act at sports events. But many nicknames seem harmless or positive. Some were clearly intended to honor Indian nations or heroes?the Chicago Blackhawks ...

Solution Summary

This solution provides the student with the ability to cite an article in text using APA, while testing the validity of arguments from the author of said article, and the Federal Government, about the involvement the Federal Government should have in forcing school's to change their team names.

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