215 petitions

Update posted 5 months ago

Petition to Putnam County, Tennessee School board, Director of schools, Parents, Alumni, PTO

Change the Algood Middle School mascot

Algood Middle School’s mascot, the R**s**s, is a Native American caricature that has been controversial for decades. In fact, it is the most demeaning representation of the indigenous Native American identity. The word “R**s**” has never had a positive connotation. The use of the word has been condemned by the National Congress of American Indians, to which virtually all tribes belong. The R-word is the moral equivalent of the N-word. It packs the same level of bigotry and insensitivity for Native Americans as any other racial slur. Additionally, it refers to the horrifying practice of skinning Native People. Since the 1990s, the movement to remove racially derogatory mascots and team names has gained momentum. Many college athletic departments moved away from Native American names. In 2015, California passed a law prohibiting high schools from using R**s**s as a team name. The decree had a downstream effect: Many schools that used other names with connections to Native Americans switched, too. At the end of 2017, 49 schools used that nickname, down from 93 schools in 1989. On 7/13/2020, the Washington R**s** announced that the team would drop its name and adopt a new one. On July 23, 2021, the Cleveland Indians followed suit. Local school mascots have been changed in the past, and for less offensive reasons. For example, the Northeast Trojans are now the Eagles, allegedly because a (white) father did not want his son’s school to be associated with a condom brand. (!) Parkview’s Rockets are now the Pandas. Sycamore used to be the Scorpions and now they are the Stars. Prescott, when it was the building close to Tennessee Tech University, was initially Prescott Middle School, abbreviated to P.M.S., thus the addition of Central, making it P.C.M.S; now we know the school as Prescott South.  Most recently, the school board swiftly decided on a name for a new school and its mascot. The New school being built will have the name Parkview School with the Mascot reverting back to its prior mascot the Rockets. If a mascot name can be changed so easily for one, why is it so much harder to change racist mascots? In an effort to put an end to stereotyping and racism, we ask that Algood Middle School remove “R**s**” as the school’s mascot and all associated images. Algood Elementary School’s mascot - the Braves - is also perceived as disrespectful by the Native Indian community. Therefore, it should be changed as well. We ask the school board, the principals, and the PTO to consider these name changes and lead by example in our community.

Julia Gruber
4,258 supporters