John Ridley: The Fuss over Mascot Names
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Florida State University is fighting to preserve its nickname. The school is appealing an NCAA decision banning the use of some American Indian nicknames in post-season games. That ruling included the Florida State Seminoles, a name branded hostile and abusive. The Florida Seminole Tribe endorsed the nickname and Governor Jeb Bush defended it, so the only way left to sort out this issue is to turn to our commentator John Ridley.
Who the heck does the NCAA think they are, telling sports teams they can't have Indian mascots anymore? Thank God Florida Governor Jeb Bush has the guts to step up, defend Florida State University and their Seminole mascot and tell Native Americans that being a team logo ain't a bad thing. In fact, displaying some political jujitsu, Bush let it be known that, actually, it's the NCAA's ban that's offensive to Native Americans and the Seminole Indian Tribe who support their traditions of FSU--apparently speaking for the Seminoles, 'cause God knows they can't speak for themselves. And if a rich old white guy thinks it's OK for Native Americans to be used as mascots, then you know it's gotta be groovy, 'cause they really are tapped into the minority community.
Now Charlotte Westerhaus, the NCAA VP for diversity and inclusion and lack of fun, says the ban is about `ensuring that our championship events are free of images and names that are viewed as hurtful by specific groups around our great nation.'
Hey, Charlotte, since when is it hurtful to have drunk college kids slap on some war paint, whoop and holler at every touchdown, slam dunk and home run? Now Jeb thinks that the NCAA is instituting their brand of reverse racism, 'cause the folks that make these decisions need to get out more often. Yeah, you know, to, like, Kennebunkport, Maine, where regular people kick it, and know that racially offensive names are only hurtful when other non-minority people decide they're hurtful.
Look, as a black guy, I know I wish I could hang out outside Lambeau Field and have the Packers rub my head for good luck before every game but the PC crowd has told me that's offensive, so now I've just gotta go out and buy my tickets like everybody else. If only somebody had told me that it's not offensive, I could've had somebody else stand up and fight for my right to be a good-luck charm. And I know if the situation were flipped and teams were called, oh, the Alabama Crackers or the Vermont Maple Syrup Lickers or the Detroit B-Boys(ph), Jeb would be out there telling people, `That ain't offensive. That's just the way they are.'
But Bush really threw a beat-down on the NCAA telling those lefty do-gooders, instead of worrying about what minority group is getting their little girly feelings hurt, they ought to be more worried about, quote, "the graduation rates of most college athletes," unquote. Of course, most college athletes actually graduate at a higher rate than average students, but this is an emotional issue. Who needs facts?
So please, people of color, just get off your PC high horses. Go about your business, and leave the decision on what's offensive to somebody who's not you.
INSKEEP: Commentator John Ridley is executive producer of "Barbershop," the series on Showtime.
By the way, next week we're going to hear from a member of the Florida Seminole Tribe which supports Florida State University's use of the Seminole team name.
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