Teaching Racism in 2016

Another school year is almost upon us. Is your child learning to be racist at their school? Before you say "Of course not!" please consider this: is the school sports team identity racist, Native American, stereotypical--or do the schools sports teams play schools with such team identities? Silence endorses so the mere presence of such teams in the roster, without discussion and, most importantly, action to bring about change peacefully through education, dialog and leadership will in fact endorse such racism. Supporting one stereotype validates the concept of stereotypes, in any and all situations, involving any and all groups. This does matter. 

In reality how bad is the situation, in Massachusetts where I live? Approximately 40 schools have race based team identities involving Native American imagery and names. Perhaps the team near the top of the offensive imagery ranking would be the North Quincy High School Red Raiders. While historically and technically supposedly not "Native American" as the facial image is reportedly that of a former football player at the school the team name coupled with a feather headress, moccasins and a tomahawk put to false the claims of "not really" an "Indian."

 This image hold pride and excellence for no one.

This image hold pride and excellence for no one.

This is not acceptable. It is racist. Our children deserve better, our communities deserve better. Silence endorses and it is time to change. This is the current, trademarked team mascot of the North Quincy High School Red Raiders in Quincy MA. It is not any kind of symbol of excellence. As for pride, this image, displayed throughout the NQHS, including a large graphic painted front and center on the gym floor where even visiting teams see the school, city and state approving of its legitimacy is an arrogant, power based racist image. It is a degrading, violent stereotype which deserves to be put into permanent retirement. The history of this image is irrelevant beyond the history books unless it becomes a teaching point around greater community dialog and understanding--after it is changed. In the 21st century our understanding has grown, our need to recognize and respect all people has been highlighted by the heartbreaking tragedies, violence and useless deaths of the recent past.

Community leaders can and must lead on this. New approaches and thinking are possible. However it is also time for the city's leadership to take a stand to simply refuse to continue the use of the image. How many more people must be killed before the City of Quincy and community leaders start doing everything they can to demonstrate respect for all people, the dignity and honor of the entire human race and the acceptance of the actual valid research and work done around the power of and damage done by stereotypes and stereotyping?

We as a country, Quincy as a community and as a city in Massachusetts, a state and early colony with a long and complex history now must face the truth: the stereotyping of one people perpetuates stereotyping any and all people. No group of people is empowered by a stereotype. We all are harmed by trivializing one and other. This image and team identity is violent, hostile and wrong. It must be changed.