Change the Wayne Valley Mascot
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The Wayne Valley High School administration needs to hold themselves accountable for creating the change that they supposedly want to see. Despite the many initiatives and campaigns that are proudly discussed, Wayne Valley administration has not been holding themselves accountable for making sure that their student population has become any less racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, religiously intolerant, etc.. If they did choose to hold themselves accountable, then they would realize that their efforts are simply not sufficient.
If the Wayne Valley administration truly wants to eliminate racism, then they need to address their mascot. Wayne Schools cannot possibly promote tolerance and keep the “Indian” as the Wayne Valley mascot at the same time. To explain this, we need to take a look at how our school portrays the "Indian” to our students, staff, and community. When Wayne Valley calls themselves “Indians,” they are clearly portraying themselves as savages who are to be feared. (e.g.: “Fear the Spear”.)
The American Psychological Association website says the use of Native American mascots are “undermining the educational experiences of members of all communities-especially those who have had little or no contact with indigenous peoples” because these symbols are teaching students that it is acceptable to appropriate cultures and perpetuate the spread of inaccurate and harmful stereotypes.
The use of Native Americans as a mascot is so immensely immoral when considering the history of Natives. The National Congress of American Indians describes it best, saying that, “Indian mascots and stereotypes present a misleading image of Indian people and feed the historic myths that have been used to whitewash a history of oppression.”
The Wayne Valley population does not call themselves Indians out of respect for Native Americans. If we did, then our snack stand would not be called “The Teepee” and our school newspaper would not be called Smoke Signals. We would not see our non-Native students putting on face paint and crafting cheap “headdresses” out of feathers from the craft store. We would not be using stereotypes like pride and viciousness to describe the attributes of our athletes. We would not tell athletic opponents to “fear the spear” because if we respect others’ cultures, then we would not encourage people to believe that an aspect of that culture is to be feared. There is nothing respectful about this abysmal misrepresentation of Native Americans.
Being an “Indian” might represent pride, but so do innumerable other mascots. There are so many reasons that numerous (prestigious) institutions, like Stanford University, Syracuse University, and the University of Miami have decided to respect Native Americans and change their mascots to something other than an entire group of people that have been subject to oppression and prejudice throughout American history. Wayne Valley is sending the wrong message to students, staff, and community through the use of these misleading and insulting stereotypes. A race is not a mascot. We can no longer perpetuate stereotyping and tolerate this misrepresentation of Native Americans. By addressing the issues of our school’s mascot, we can take a huge step in eliminating racial prejudice in our school and community. This change is long overdue.
Together, we can create the change that we want to see.
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