Change the Dobyns Bennett "Indians" Mascot

Change the Dobyns Bennett "Indians" Mascot

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Fathima Shaikh started this petition to Kingsport City School Board and

     At Dobyns Bennett High School in Kingsport, Tennessee, its mascot called the “Indian” is the stereotypical portrayal of a Native American man. With a headdress and dark marks on his face, this mascot is far from an accurate representation of Native Tribes who lived in this region. 

     Racist mascots are all too common across the US. However, many schools and universities have realized their mistakes and their racial ignorance stemming from their choice of mascots and “school pride”. Dartmouth College and Stanford University called their sports teams the “Indians”, before acknowledging their mistakes and changing their mascots. Now, Dartmouth students are represented by “Keggy the Keg” which came from the students themselves and Stanford sports teams are called the “Cardinals”. Additionally, 250 students at Valley Regional High School in Connecticut signed a petition to remove their schools’ Native American mascot as it was a “demeaning representation of the Indigenous identity”. They wanted a mascot to symbolize the values of their community. The petition called the logo “degrading to native communities” and it is used to “compress the diverse racial identity of Native Americans into a stereotype." They also mentioned that the logo is an inaccurate representation of the people who lived in the area. The motivations for these changes were propelled by other Connecticut schools decisions to drop all Native American Imagery from their mascots. Similar to these schools and universities, Dobyns Bennett has the potential to change from the “Indians” to a non-offensive and non-degrading mascot created by its students. 

      A significant change like this will have backlash. This might become a case of heritage and pride against racism and offensiveness. However, heritage and pride does not compare to racism. Vernon Bellecourt, a Native American calls these mascots “Superficial stereotypes” of Native Americans and represents his community saying “We’re human beings; we’re not mascots,” Bellecourt is the president of the National Coalition on Racism in Sports and the Media, which lobbies against American Indian mascots across the country. Other symbols can highlight our southern heritage and pride, but human beings are not symbols.

     Signing this petition will bring us one step closer to finally changing our mascot. Through wide-spread support, the school board and the Kingsport City School District will understand the urgency and importance of erasing the demeaning and stereotypical mascots that perpetuate throughout schools in Kingsport. 

     Dobyns Bennett High School is where I’ve spent the last 3 years of my life. Walking into these halls for the first time when I was 12 years old, I couldn’t help but notice the picture of smiling seniors as they tossed their caps into the air. I looked at the picture, and noticed that it said “Once an Indian, always an Indian”. A minority of these people actually came from India, and if they were trying to represent Native Americans, why? A race should not be a mascot. If we need a mascot, it should be an animal or a popular noun. Mascots symbolize tradition, values, and beliefs. It can be as simple as the color red in the name "red cardinals", or it can represent the unique quality of a yellow jacket. DB needs a mascot that represents our southern heritage, our student- focused world class attitude, and maybe even our unanimous love of Pal’s and sweet tea. We do not need a mascot who does not represent our school in any way, especially in this current political climate. We also do not have the permission of Native Americans to represent them in this way. Native Americans will keep their own heritage, and Dobyns Bennett High should preserve their own as well.  

0 have signed. Let’s get to 5,000!
At 5,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!