Change the Mascot of William R. Boone High School
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Indigenous people are the true natives of America. They were here before colonization, and had their land stolen and pillaged. Disgusting acts of violence were committed to natives and continue to be committed. When colonialism brought white supremacy to this continent, a genocide ensued that killed an estimated 90% of their population. Today, Native American women are going missing, and racism continues to plague their communities. According to ihs.gov, “American Indians and Alaska Natives continue to die at higher rates than other Americans in many categories, including chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, diabetes mellitus, unintentional injuries, assault/homicide, intentional self-harm/suicide, and chronic lower respiratory diseases.” https://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/factsheets/disparities/ Environmental racism affects their communities, and sacred land is taken from them in violation of treaties.
Despite being one of the most oppressed ethnic/racial groups in the country, William R. Boone High School continues to use a caricature of Native garments and regalia as their school mascot and logo.
“Unless you are a native male from a Plains nation who has earned a headdress, or you have been given permission to wear one (sort of like being presented with an honorary degree), then you will have a very difficult time making a case for how wearing one is anything other than disrespectful” - https://apihtawikosisan.com/hall-of-shame/an-open-letter-to-non-natives-in-headdresses/
Not only is is discriminatory and offensive to wear native regalia as someone who hasn’t earned it, it is even more so when the person wearing this costume is not native. As an alumni, I can attest to the fact that all four years I was at BHS the mascot was a white person. The costume worn by the mascot is cheap, likely purchased from a Halloween store, and does not even accurately reflect native regalia.
An argument I heard when I went to this school was “no one is complaining” and “I’ve never heard of a native student getting offended,” but BHS is 10% more white than the average school in Florida, and of the students of color in the population most of them are Hispanic. The school has 12% less black students than the average school in FL, and only 2% of the school are “two or more races,” which could POSSIBLY include native Americans. https://www.publicschoolreview.com/william-r-boone-high-school-profile#:~:text=The%20school's%20student%3Ateacher%20ratio,flat%20over%20five%20school%20years
With so few students (if any) who are native, there is no room at BHS for native voices to even protest this cultural appropriation. Students who voice differing opinions are shut down, and Boone alumni and faculty defend this caricature of a mascot just because it is the mascot Boone has always had. “School spirit” should not equate to the silencing of people of color, saying “get over it”, and making a costume out of a culture which should be REVERED, not made into a caricature.
And no, having a costume of a native American (“brave”) as your mascot does not count as honoring Indigenous people. “Defenders of the current usage often state their intention to honor Native Americans by referring to positive traits, such as fighting spirit and being strong, brave, stoic, dedicated, and proud; while opponents see these traits as being based upon stereotypes of Native Americans as savages. In general, the social sciences recognize that all stereotypes, whether positive or negative, are harmful because they promote false or misleading associations between a group and an attribute, fostering a disrespectful relationship.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_American_mascot_controversy#Native_Americans
Stereotypes of any kind of a race/ethnicity are never good, and I believe that the mockery of Native culture that is displayed by Boone High School is deeply disturbing.
I don’t care what mascot Boone High School chooses instead, but I would point them in the direction of non-humans.
This petition seeks these changes:
1) For BHS to change its mascot.
2) For BHS to stop referring itself as "the reservation."
3) For BHS to stop using native culture as a theme, for example using names like "revive the tribe."
4) For BHS to remove the racist paintings of Native Americans from the hallways.
5) For BHS to take down the totem pole on campus.
Please join me in standing up for our Indigenous brothers and sisters and calling for Boone High School to change its mascot. The school is creating a hostile environment towards Indigenous people and other minorities in continuing this tradition. People of color are not costumes to be worn, nor are they mascots for our schools and sports teams. They are people, and they deserve to be treated as such. It is truly sad that it has taken this long for someone to even make a petition about this issue- it is 2020.
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