The Whiteness of Redmen: Indigenous Mascots, Social media and an Antiracist Intervention
Keywords:Social media, Indigenous mascots, Indigenous resistance, White supremacy, Anti-racist education.
AbstractResistance to the use of Indigenous themed mascots in North America has taken a variety of forms over the past several decades. This paper describes and analyses how a new vehicle for resistance, social media, can be integral to dismantling and eradicating racist images of Indigenous peoples. Specifically, this paper focusses on one campaign that questioned a high school sports mascot and team named the “Redmen”. By using examples from social media, the authors demonstrate how White settlers came to rely on the mascot imagery as a way to position themselves as superior and to regulate representations of Indigeneity. The authors’ analysis posits that the mascot is in itself a form of racialised colonial violence and they discuss how the name and mascot were protected by and through white settler surveillance and control. To intervene in this discourse of superiority and regulation, the paper describes how an anti-racist approach was used to design a social media campaign that built mass critical consciousness and a network of support within the community. The social media campaign coincided with and rallied support from the grassroots Indigenous Movement, Idle No More. The larger joint effort strategically and effectively redirected the public and critical focus to how the “Redmen” name and logo and other racist Indigenous mascots become normalised. Increased knowledge via social media catalysed a shift in public opinion which ultimately leads to retirement of the team name, logo and mascot.
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