Ban the “Redskins.” Get rid of this racist mascot. Down with Daniel Snyder.
Ah, that’s easy.
The nickname attached to Washington’s NFL team, and to a dwindling number of high school athletic squads, is such a blatant and obnoxious slur that it’s hard to imagine this can still be a controversy.
But how about the “Indians”? That’s a battleground, too, and it’s in the news in the North Bay, thanks to a Change.org petition started by a friend of my daughter’s named Joshua Bronk, a recent graduate of Napa High School. Last I checked, Josh’s petition had 511 supporters. Of course there is a counter petition. That one had 852 supporters.
Two of my children graduated from Napa High. Two more currently are “Indians.” And there’s another school I think about when I hear the name: my alma mater, Marysville High School. Lots of Indians around.
The argument against “Indians” is pretty easy to understand. Like, the devastation of indigenous culture and attempted genocide wasn’t enough? We have to make mascots of the survivors? Could there be anything more degrading to Native Americans?
On the other hand, “Indians” is not “Redskins.” It’s a generic term, a geographic screw-up that was somehow applied to hundreds of distinct tribes. I’m guessing (though I speak for no one) that tribal affiliation is much more important to most Native Americans than affinity to the umbrella term. It’s also conceivable to me that athletic teams have come to use “Indians” as a term of respect. There’s no way to say that about “Redskins” with a straight face.
So I sympathize with the campuses that cling to “Indians.” And then I read comments on the Napa High counter petition like this one: “I’m tired of everything becoming a racial issue when it really has nothing to do with race!” And I think, is this the sort of benighted stupidity I want to align with? Nope.
(It Has Nothing to Do With Race, the unofficial slogan of white people everywhere!)
The Marysville High Indians and the Napa High Indians don’t get under my skin. But I’m sure those names offend a lot of American Indians, and with good reason. And that’s enough for me. My traditions don’t trump the besieged traditions of the Yuba tribe, or the Pomo, or the Wappo.
So while I feel no joy in saying it, I’m ready to scrap the nickname. Bring on the Marysville High School Rice Dryers and the Napa High School Corkpullers.
And if that’s too politically correct for you, let’s make a deal. I’m happy to welcome the Cossacks back to Sonoma State University.