Florida Atlantic University

MASCOT CONTROVERSY: FAU Holds Free Online Seminar

FAU Florida News Palm Beach County
Florida Atlantic University

BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) (Source: FAU Verbatim) — The School of Communication and Multimedia Studies in Florida Atlantic University’s Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters presents “Mascot Controversy: Native American Representation in Sports,” a virtual zoom webinar in its Critical Conversation Series on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 5 p.m. Registration is free at tiny.cc/mascotcontroversy.

The controversy over Indigenous mascots has been a part of U.S. cultural conversations for decades. But throughout this past year, one many consider the apogee of America’s reckoning with race, the mascot issue looms ever larger in our public consciousness. From the retirement of the NFL’s Washington franchise name and logo to the replacement of caricatured Indigenous images at high schools and within sports leagues, the imperative to end mascotting practices has peaked in 2020.

The scholar-activists on his panel, representing both Indigenous and settler perspectives, attend to the mascot controversy by discussing the practice’s history, its colonial underpinnings, its impact on Indigenous peoples’ public health and political agency, and the ways that numerous activist communities are working to decolonize the far cultural reach of Indigenous mascotting.

The panelists include:

  • Jason Black, Ph.D., professor and chair of Communication Studies at UNC Charlotte. Black’s research program involves rhetoric and social change, with an emphasis on Indigenous justice and LGBTQIA2S activism. He is the co-author of “Mascot Nation: The Controversy over Native American Representations in Sports” (Univ. of Illinois Press, 2018) and the author of “American Indians and the Rhetoric of Removal and Allotment” (Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2015). 
  • James Courage Singer, Diné (Navajo) from the Bilagáana, Kííya’áanii, Béésh Bich’ahii, and Ashííhi clans. Singer is the Diversity Fellow in Sociology and Ethnic Studies at Salt Lake Community College. He is also one of the founders of the Utah League of Native American Voters. In 2018, Professor Singer was the first Native American to run for U.S. Congress in Utah. He is also in the sociology doctoral program at Utah State University researching how Native American Millennials navigate labor markets, their prospects for social mobility, and their interpretation of “The American Dream” ideology. Currently, he is working with local activists to retire a Native American mascot used at a high school north of Salt Lake City. 
  • Ashley Cordes (Coquille), assistant professor of Indigenous communication and a Digital Matters Fellow at the University of Utah. Her research lies at the intersections of digital media, critical cultural studies, and Indigenous studies. Related to this talk, Cordes has publications titled “#DontTrendOnMe: Addressing appropriation of Native American-ness in millennial social media” and “The urgent need for anticolonial media literacy.” She also pairs her academic work with community decolonial participatory action projects as Chair of the Culture and Education Committee of the Coquille Nation. 

Bill Trapani, Ph.D., director of FAU’s School of Interdisciplinary Studies will serve as moderator. This event is co-sponsored by FAU’s Department of History and the Peace, Justice and Human Rights Initiative.


Paul Saperstein


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