Gary Norris Gray- BASN-Newsroom-Reporter
California Governor Jerry Brown threw down the political gauntlet at the end of 2015 stating that the Golden State would no longer permit schools to use THE REDSKIN name as a mascot or logo.The law California Racial Mascot Act was passed in October 2015 with a deadline to comply January 2017. Currently there are 500 junior high, high school, and college teams using Native American names and logos. The R-Word is still being used by 48 of these schools. That is so much better than the 5,000 teams in 1950.
California became the first state to ban the R-Word, other states across the country should now follow The Bear Republic’s lead, and pass the baton to the next generation, by demonstrating a commitment to the American ideals of inclusion and mutual respect toward other cultures.
As of January all public schools in California will be barred from using the term, “Redskin,” which many Native Americans consider a racial slur. The measure by Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville) will allow schools that use materials that contain the term, such as uniforms, to phase out their use to alleviate cost concerns. The new law will affect four California high schools in Merced, Calaveras, Tulare, and Madera counties. The four schools are Gustine High School in Merced County, Calaveras High School in Calaveras County, Chowchilla Union High School in Madera County and Tulare Union High School in Tulare County.
Two years later some progress was made but it has been slow. Some of these schools continue to drag their collective feet citing the cost of changing uniforms and signs. The alumni cited that the name is tradition. California school officials also cited that their Native American name is historic and it honors Native Americans. This is the same bogus argument that the Cleveland Indians and Washington Football Club cite. It is very interesting that these same school districts are quick to change school names to Kennedy or Lincoln without a whimper.
American Junior High Schools, High Schools, and Colleges are more willing to give up their Native American names and logos but professional teams are steadfast and unwilling to change.
The two big monsters are the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Indians. The Cleveland Indians will be hosting the 2017 Baseball All Star Game. The Indians have taken baby steps on the issue of their logo. Last year the team changed their road caps with the block red C but still wear Chief Wahoo on the shoulders and their home caps. IT IS NOT ENOUGH
Dan Snyder owner of the Washington Football Club has stated that HE WOULD NEVER CHANGE THE NAME – “NEVER, PUT THAT IN CAPS,”. This is the strong resistance to change by professional teams and is not present in schools
In Northern California, Vallejo High School in Vallejo changed their name and logo from Apaches to Redhawks in February 2014. There are 14 high schools in the United States with the Apache mascot, including four in California: Sanger High School, Centennial High School in Compton-Los Angeles., Arcadia High School, and Vallejo.
Napa High School in the wine country of Northern California is also battling with this issue and the school board has had many meetings. The Napa Valley School District will be meeting again on April 6th 2017. Solano Middle School in Vallejo dropped the Chieftain name soon after Assembly Bill 30 passed two years ago, addressing the REDSKIN name in public schools. The tide has turned and Governor Brown has now put legal pressure on California schools to change their names.
This should be done on a national level.
John Swett High School in Crockett 30 miles north of Oakland announced it would also stop using Indians as their mascot last year.
Native American Indian mascots and logos will be a thing of the past. Now if we could get other states to follow suit.
In the heat of this year’s political climate in Washington D.C. the Chowchilla, California school district still faces a protest against a Southern California high school whose sports teams name and mascot are called Arabs. The name stuck because of the school’s location near the California desert, so, the name seemed appropriate. In reality it has nothing to do with Middle Eastern residents. This is a prime example of the continuation of the marginalization of minorities or people of color in the United States.
The Coachella Valley High School Arabs finally came to a compromise changing the name and mascot. The Coachella Valley High School Arabs will now be known as the Mighty Arabs, after the school district’s board of trustees voted 5-0 to amend the school’s team name. They also agreed to change CVHS’ Arab mascot to look less barbaric and more distinguished. The parents, students, and facility of CVHS still did not want to relinquish the Middle Eastern image, just as the Washington Football Club and the Cleveland Indians.
The State of California is giving a teaching moment for the United States. Will America listen?
If you want to know more about the battle on Native American mascots and logos in the United States check out the award winning documentary “IN WHOSE HONOR”, a critical look at the historical practice of using Native American Indians as sports mascots.
Also there are other web sites:- (NCRSM)The National Coalition on Racism in Sports and Media (AIM) American Indian Movement, (AISTM) American Indian Sports Team Mascots and (NCAI)The National Congress of American Indians.
Special thanks to
The Huffington Post.com
Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network, Disabled Community Activist. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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