Campaign to Educate Sonic and NFL About Offensive Mascots
An organization that called for an apology after a Sonic Drive-in posted two offensive signs is now leading a campaign calling on the Sonic Corporation to educate the public about how offensive Native mascots are.
The signs, “KC Chiefs" Will Scalp the Redskins Feed Them Whisky Send - 2 – Reservation” and “KC Chiefs'' Will Scalp the Redskins Drain the Firewater out of them” were put up by an employee at a Sonic Drive-in on Sunday night before the Redskins Chiefs game in Belton, Missouri. They were removed after several patrons complained.
ICTMN reported that Sonic’s vice president of public relations, Patrick Lenow, said the remarks on the sign were “offensive … unacceptable and just plain wrong.”
But the group, Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry, says that an apology is not enough.
“We feel the company must do something concrete to show that they do not share the views of their employee (who was not fired) at the Sonic Drive-in in Belton, Missouri,” said Jacqueline Keeler, who helped found EONM, in a press release.
The group has also allied with the National Congress of American Indians in their efforts to hold Sonic accountable. They are calling on the restaurant and “both [NFL] teams (Washington Redsk*ns and the Kansas City Chiefs) featured in the racist sign to denounce the sign (they have not) and to stop using Native people as mascots.”
Brad Gee, the Chiefs’ communications manager responded to the group’s press release: “Thank you for passing this along. I will make sure it gets in the right hands. Just as a little bit of background, our mascot is actually a Wolf. KC Wolf was named after a group of fans at Municipal stadium called the ‘Wolf Pack.’ Our team name, the Chiefs, was actually created because it was the nickname of Kansas City’s Mayor back in 1963 (Mayor H. Roe Bartle – ‘The Chief’), who helped convince our founder to move his Dallas Texans franchise to Kansas City.”
Charles Samuel, Black Creek/Cherokee, and one of more than 50 members on EONM’s Facebook page, said in response to Gee’s email that, “I believe that the fans dressing in Native regalia with war paint and tomahawks etiology date back many years. This behavior is a product of a systematical [sic] dehumanization of America Indians.”
And Maggie Smith Hundley, also a member said on Facebook that, “I'm sure most KC fans don't have any idea about their team namesake or even the wolf (as evidenced by fan behavior). I'm a football fan and had no clue about wolf. Anyway, again intent doesn't really matter if fans are dressing up as 'red Indians' aka misappropriating, mocking, which gives other racist behaviors safe harbor at games.”
In its press release, the group listed three steps Sonic must take to “restore a brand that they say has been ‘trashed.’”
▪ Sonic Corporation will put up a sign with an apology and request that the use of Native people as Mascots be ended. This sign can be at just the Sonic Drive-in in Belton, Missouri or at as many franchisees that are willing to and at the corporate offices. It should say: "Sonic recognizes the harm Native Mascotry causes and wish that the Redsk*ns & KC Chiefs refrain from using Native people as Mascots."
▪ If Sonic Corporation and not one of the more than 3,500 restaurants across the country will make such a statement how can Native people patronize them? Even a tribally owned one: the Sonic Drive-in owned by the Wyandotte tribe in Seneca, Missouri? A lack of action implies agreement with the racist sign or at the very least, an unwillingness to come down on the side of what is right in a public way--as public as the racist signs were.
▪ We would also like to see Sonic Corporation to create a PSA working with the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and purchase ads educating the public about the harmful stereotypes Native Mascotry promotes.
The organization, EONM, which came together organically, is primarily made up of concerned Native parents who met through their discussions online about the use of Native people as mascots. Their Facebook page was created for parents to share ideas and work collaboratively to stop the promotion of negative sports mascots.
EONM also led the campaign that filed FCC Complaints against Sundays Redskins Chiefs game.
“Because of this ideology the fans give no thought to their disrespectful characterization of a group of diverse people. Just as they can walk in a store and buy a costume of their favorite Disney character and wear it for Halloween, the same thought goes into buying fake Native regalia,” Samuel said. “To change this culture ideology is going to take a major educational effort!”
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