Thursday at the 2015 White House Tribal Nations Conference, President Barack Obama praised Adidas for working with schools to remove Native American mascots and urged them to do the same for the Redskins.
Remarks as follows:
In terms of eliminating racism or stereotypes, that’s an obligation of the entire society, but it’s especially important in the school. And so my hope and expectation would be that anybody in authority in a school is being very clear that they — first day the kids walk in as to what is acceptable and what’s not in terms of how they are interacting with each other, how they are respecting each other, how they are respecting different cultures.
If the school is not doing that, it’s failing. And one specific element of this that we have talked about but I want to give some credit right now is on this issue of schools and mascots, because if you walk into a school the first day and you are already feeling that stereotypes are embedded in the culture and the cheers and all that, by the way, that kid is feeling set apart and different.
And so I want to give credit to Adidas and I know a number of their officials that are here today, they really come up with a smart, creative approach, which is to say, all right, if we can’t get states to pass laws to prohibit these mascots, then how can we incentivize schools to think differently?
And so what Adidas has done is it said to the 2,000-plus schools that still have native American or Alaska native mascots, and said, you know what? We will work with you to redesign your entire sports brand. And I don’t know if Adidas made the same offer to a certain NFL team here in Washington, but they might want to think about that as well. But, I tell you for Adidas to make that commitment that’s a very smart thing to do because those schools now don’t have an excuse.
What they are saying is one of the top sports companies in the world, one of the top brands in the world, is prepared to come in and use all their expertise to come up with something that’s going to work and the entire community can feel proud of and can bring people together and give a fresh start. And I really want to give them a lot of credit for taking that step.
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