President Barack Obama spoke out in response to a question about Native American stereotyping and racism on Thursday at the 2015 White House Tribal Nations Conference.
“Schools now really don’t have an excuse” for keeping Native American mascots, Obama said, according to the Huffington Post. He was asked by a teenager during a Q&A session how schools can reduce these issues, and the President referenced the efforts announced by adidas this week as he discussed the elimination of racism and racial stereotypes, which he deemed an “obligation of the entire society.”
“I want to give credit to adidas,” Obama said. “They've really come up with a smart, creative approach, which is to say: If we can't get states to pass laws to prohibit these mascots, then how can we incentivize schools to think differently?”
Adidas announced Thursday an initiative to help high schools transition away from using Native American mascots. Around 2,000 schools use Native American mascots, according to the organization Change the Mascot, and Adidas has offered all of them both financial and design resources to help create new mascots in a manner that is not cost prohibitive.
“Our intention is to help break down any barriers to change — change that can lead to a more respectful and inclusive environment for all American athletes,” Eric Liedtke, Adidas’s head of global brands, said in a statement Thursday.
“In terms of eliminating racism or stereotypes, that’s an obligation of the entire society, but it's especially important in the school,” Obama said. “If you walk into a school on the first day and you're already feeling that stereotypes are embedded in the culture and the cheers and all that, that kid is feeling set apart and different.”
- Jeremy Woo