For a while now there have been controversies about professional sports teams that use Native American characters or tribes as mascots (the Washington Redskins, for example). One point often made by people that support keeping the mascots is that there are surveys that indicate that Native Americans themselves don't find the mascots offensive. Ironically, they say, it is only white liberals who seem upset about this alleged racism. Suppose it were really true than a strong majority of Native Americans did not find Native American mascots offensive. Would this show that there is indeed nothing objectionable about them? Or might we dare to say, "Well, Native Americans don't think that they are being insulted or harmed by these mascots, but they're just wrong about that."

Just because a group or even a person does not recognize they are being disadvantaged by a particular practice it does not follow that they are not being disadvantaged. Feminists have the notion of false consciousness, and ethnic minorities often internalize society's view of them so that this does not appear to be objectionable. So the feelings of the group referred to by the name is not a decisive aspect of the issue, although I agree it is certainly important.

I think we have to think about whether a particular designation is respectful and whether it could contribute to furthering stereotyping and systems of disadvantage.

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