Sports team mascots are symbols of racism, according to the Michigan Department of Civil Rights who, earlier last week, requested that the use of mascots, names, slogans and other imagery of the American Indian be banned from the Michigan school system.

A formal complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education suggests that schools inside 35 Michigan school districts currently using mascots that blatantly undermine the heritage of the American Indian, should be immediately forced to lay them to rest for good. “The use of American Indian imagery reinforces stereotypes in a way that negatively impacts the potential for achievement by students with American Indian ancestry,” according to the written complaint.

“It creates a hostile environment and denies equal rights to all current and future American Indian students and must therefore cease."

The proposed ban is only being sought for K-12 schools and does not apply to community colleges or universities. Throughout the years, the American Indian mascot has been a topic of much controversy: In 2005, the Central Michigan University Chippewas was placed on the “hostile or abusive” list, but that decision was eventually appealed due to overwhelming support from the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe.

Some of us believe that the use of the American Indian as a mascot is a respected dedication to the culture. However, we wonder how long it will be before a homage like the song "Indians" by Anthrax, is subjected to same over-the-top intolerance - nothing surprises us anymore.