Abolish Confederate Branding at Richland High School

Abolish Confederate Branding at Richland High School

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To the Board of Trustees of Birdville Independent School District,

It is with great displeasure that we write this. With the recent climate of our country we have seen countless students and faculty come together to support the Black Community. But how can you expect your Richland students and faculty to take a stand against racism when it runs in the deep Confederate traditions of our school? How can you expect an environment that fosters acceptance and peace when the very mascot of one of your 4 highschools does not mirror those values?

Surely we do not have to elaborate on the “stars and bars” imaging, the “Dixie” South title, or the true meaning of the fight song. Like every student on this campus, we are sure you have seen the countless videos and songs promoting these titles as proudly Confederate. It is like an initiation here, to be shown the racist history of our school. The videos, the songs, and the all-white yearbooks in our very library, branded with the Confederate flag. We assume you know these things. So why protect them?

As current and former students of this school, we are not proud that this image precedes us. We are not proud to “go off” to college with a Confederate image in our past. Many times this has been proven to you, and many times you ignore the pleas for a rebranding. 

We are known as the “Confederate school”. And we should not be proud of it. 

But we are proud to have attended this school. The spirit of our school is not a racist one. We are proud to have worked hard to foster acceptance despite our very name rejecting it. But with such strong racist imaging on this campus, how can we be expected to root out racism? Racists and supremacists have years of  “tradition” promising that their outdated and harmful beliefs will be protected. 

Still our students and faculty try to quell it. We added a crest to brand our signs with, we shortened the “Johnny Rebs” to the “J Rebs”, we continue to fight those racists, and we do it well. But how much easier could it be without a name holding us back? 

The “Rebels” may be an idea, some may be proud of it, but these students are not. Confederate Rebels, Dixie Belles, the fight song, are all toxic traditions promoting and upholding the Southern effort to protect slavery. What does this say about our school to protect this image? That we are protecting a “rich piece of history”? Or that we are protecting the “Southern pride” of our slave-driven past?

As on the most recent petition, your Alumni are loudly speaking out. They are ashamed to have been given this title. As are we. We implore you to work towards change in this district. We beg you to listen to us, even though a great deal of us are minorities. You have each certainly seen what the minorities of our country are capable of, let that empower you towards understanding.

We do not believe it is too much to ask that you change our image to one that models that of our core beliefs. To rebrand our school in an effort to make the outside world understand we are not proud of those Confederate traditions. It is not simply your “bitter” alumn who ask this of you. It is your current students, ones who have done much to steer our school towards modern beliefs. The legacy we want to leave is one of change and respect. We hope you can understand this sentiment as one of appreciation for our school, but not for our image.

Do not ignore us any longer,

Makayla Klie (‘20) — defined as a National Merit Scholar and Rank 4 of her class, not defined as a Rebel.

Miranda Cruze (‘20) — defined as the President of Interact Club and J Reb, but not proud of our name.

Maliek Goodlow (‘20) — defined as a J Reb, and Student Council Senior President, not defined as a Rebel.

Madison Bazaldua (‘20) — defined as a National Honors Society officer and Hispanic National Merit Scholar, not defined as a Rebel.

Neeraj Pillai (‘20) — defined as Tennis Captain and Rank 10 of his class, not defined as a Rebel.

Arvin Santos (‘20) — defined as a proud Filipino transfer student, not a proud Rebel.

Reyna Jimenez (‘20) — defined as Clarinet Section Leader and proud Mexican, not defined as a Rebel.

Shaelly Castro (‘20) — defined as a National Honors Society officer and proud Salvadoran, not a proud Rebel.

Ashlyn Watkins (‘21) — defined as Band Secretary, not defined as a Rebel.

Shelby Thomason (‘20) — defined as 2020 drum major and rank 9 in her class, not defined as a Rebel.

Max Mondy (‘20) — defined as T.A.F.E National Qualifier, not defined as a Rebel.

Sydney Thomason (‘20) — defined as Chan’s Color Guard Captain, not defined as a Rebel.

Aaron Jett (‘20) — defined as two-time All-State Singer and Rebellair Vice President, not defined as a Rebel.

Natalie Morter (‘21) — defined as TheatRebels Vice President, not defined as a Rebel.

Dallas Martin (‘22) — defined as Rebel Woman, but not proud of our name.

Beverly Ontiveros (‘20) — defined as a Cosmetologist and artist, not defined as a Rebel.

Gabriel Castro (‘20) — defined as Varsity football player, not defined as a Rebel.

Naia Watkins-Garner (‘20) — defined as President and Co-Founder of Student Senate, President of Debate Club, and a proud multiracial woman, not defined as a Rebel.

Kyndall Norris (‘19) — defined as a J Reb and Student Council Treasurer, not defined as a Rebel.

Ali Gleaves (‘19) — defined as Richland Alumn, not defined as a Rebel.

AJ Norris (‘17) — defined as a Richland Alumn, former varsity cheer co-Captain, not defined as a Rebel.

Emily Mullins (‘16) — defined as Richland Alumn, not defined as a Rebel.