Keep the “Raider” Nickname, but Associate it with a Non-Native American Mascot
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On September 2nd, 2020, in response to growing controversy over Radnor’s Native American mascot and the Radnor Raiders nickname, the Radnor Township Board of School Directors voted to remove all Native American imagery, as well as retire the name “Raider”, from Radnor schools permanently. While Native American imagery is deemed offensive and harmful, the use of the name “Raider”, when associated with a non-Native American mascot, is not. In a time where an unprecedented pandemic has already stripped students of in-person learning, school sports, and social gatherings, the reality of never saying “Radnor Raiders” again has made many students question what school certainties they have left to hold on to. In the best interest of preserving Radnor pride and prioritizing students’ well-being while respecting indigenous peoples, we propose that the Raider name be kept, but associated with a non-Native American mascot.
If you’re looking for an example of where the name “Raider” is used inoffensively, consider the Oakland Raiders. This NFL team directly associates the term “Raider” with its pirate mascot, and yet has faced no public backlash for the Raider name. The continued acceptance of this team name even as the NFL removed the Washington Redskins’ name and imagery proves that the name “Raiders”, when aligned with a non-Native American mascot, is in no way harmful. The same social awareness that caused the NFL’s Washington team to retire their Redskins name would have also applied to the Oakland Raiders had it been offensive.
The term “Raider” is also used with a non-Native American association on the high school level. In Ocean City High School of Ocean City, New Jersey, the school calls themselves the “Red Raiders” with a red bird as their mascot. They, too, have not removed their nickname despite the wake of recent anti-cultural appropriation movements, because the term “Red Raider” is associated with a bird, not a Native American. If we are already tolerating other teams/schools that associate the term “Raiders” with non-Native American mascots, why can’t we do the same for Radnor?
As someone who has attended Radnor schools since kindergarten, I have proudly watched Radnor’s continual efforts towards its students’ well-being. Now more than ever, we should expect Radnor to hold the highest level of concern for students coping with the changes brought forth by COVID-19. Already, students must face the reality of not returning to in-person school in September, of not reuniting with friends, meeting with teachers, or experiencing any normalcies from pre-pandemic school life. For high schoolers, cherished events like LM Week or Prom are no longer guaranteed. As if this wasn’t enough, COVID-19 has also caused the Central League to cancel fall sports, leaving many seniors wondering if they’ll ever play another season, and many students wondering when they’ll ever attend another game. Radnor can’t control how the pandemic will play out in the future, but it can control one thing: keeping school spirit. Even if we do go back to in-person learning, the idea that we’ll never again chant “Go Raiders!” leaves many students wondering how school will ever feel the same.
We want to acknowledge the harmfulness of Native American mascots and imagery while doing everything we can to keep Radnor school spirit alive. Keeping the Raider name but associating it with a new, non-Native American mascot is the only way to do that. Please sign this petition to show your support in respectfully embracing Radnor Pride.
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