AAPA Statement on American Indian Mascots in Sports
The Asian American Psychological Association stands in solidarity with the National Congress of American Indians, the Association of Black Psychologists, the Society of Indian Psychologists, the American Psychological Association, and our allied Asian American Pacific Islander organizations in opposing the continued use of American Indian mascots and racial slurs in professional sports teams.
Psychological research has documented the negative psychological consequences such as decreased self-esteem, decreased sense of community worth, and decreased achievement motivation among American Indian children exposed to American Indian mascots (Fryberg, Markus, Oyserman, & Stone, 2008). Moreover, even casual exposures to American Indian mascots were shown in two different experiments to activate racial stereotyping of another ethnic minority group—Asian Americans—among university students at a school with an American Indian mascot as well as at a school without an American Indian mascot (Kim-Prieto, Goldstein, Okazaki, & Kirschner, 2010). The psychological harm of American Indian mascots affects everyone in insidious as well as explicit ways.
The name of the NFL team in Washington, along with its associated images and depictions, is an offensive racial slur. Sadly, it is just one of multiple uses of American Indian personalities and images by professional sports teams around the nation today. Contrary to the supporters’ claims that American Indian mascots and symbols honor American Indians, the evidence is clear that such racially stereotypical depictions are harmful. AAPA supports the retirement of all such symbols and mascots–including changing team names—as a step toward a more just and equitable treatment of all individuals in our society.