Yakoo Editorial I Wrote in Quincy Sun

Here is the editoial Opinion piece which ran two weeks ago in the Quincy Sun (Massachusetts). They have a minimal online presence and I do have the pdf. but am having difficulties uploading it.

 This is the NQHS mascot.  Is it Racist? Of course! 

This is the NQHS mascot.

Is it Racist? Of course! 

"In a summer and year of violence nationwide arising from race based prejudice where far too many Americans, from praying parents to teachers to children to police officers, violently dying in our churches and on our streets it is time to ask a single question in Quincy:

Does Quincy, MA. the city and community formally approve and teach racism today, in 2016?

Sadly, the answer is yes. There is even official approval through the use of stereotyping. Happily, this can be changed. For the sake of all our children, for the sake of the community it must be changed.

Stereotyping is defined in the American Heritage ® Dictionary is giving to a group a “fixed, unvarying form” and a stereotype is any “conventional…and oversimplified conception, opinion or image.” Stereotypes always cause problems and when applied to any group of people create real harm and the potential for violence. This is especially true when the stereotype is race based, as recent history has shown. Stereotypes create problems because they limit a group of people to a single, usually untrue and frequently negative characteristic. Stereotypes hamper understanding and destroy mutual respect for the most simple reason imaginable: they are born from learned prejudices. Often the prejudice is not recognized, often it is taught in families and often it is excused in public as “just the truth” or “everyone knows this” or “it’s always been this way” or “everyone loves it.” My response to all these assertions is “Really? Please show me.”

Today North Quincy High School, the School Board, staff, administration and even Quincy City Hall have put themselves front and center in this discussion with their continued use of the North Quincy High School sports teams name “Red Raiders” and mascot “Yakoo.” I do know the history of “Yakoo”--Dr. Yacubian, now retired as a dentist, was a well-known football player on the “Red Raiders” team who is undoubtedly still proud to see his face on the team mascot even if he graduated in 1958 with the mascot reflecting the realities of that time frame, a time before our Civil Rights laws and voters rights bills were passed or even considered by most Americans, when segregation was widely accepted and schools were “separate but equal” in fact if not according to decisions by the US Supreme Court. In the past Yakoo survived various challenges. To both situations I say: “That was then, this is now.”

It is my hope that the community of Quincy, the professional school personnel and administration, the elected officials, the students and even Dr. Yacubian himself can acknowledge and accept that change is always a fundamental part of life. Creating a new team identity can be exciting and engaging for QNHS students and the entire community. No one can freeze time. Change can be a very good thing as well.

The truth is that today trademarked team identities are under serious legal challenge nationwide. Yakoo is trademarked, also indicating someone has a financial interest in perpetuating the image and team identity. The image and team identity teach NQHS students, the community and all the teams they play that racist stereotypes are acceptable and appropriate.

The racial nature of Yakoo is undeniable: buckskin fringed pants, moccasins, raised tomahawk, headband with a feather inserted in the traditional tribal manner, bare chest and arms prominently showcasing bright red skin. These combine to clearly indicate a violent, caricatured Native American fighter.

The “Raiders” in the name traces to an important even in Quincy history. Henry Adams’ eldest son Lieutenant Henry Adams, son of the first Henry Adams from England, was shot to death by “Indian” raiders during Metacomet’s War in 1675 or ‘76. These are the ancestors of both Presidents Adams who are now buried with their wives in the crypt under United First Parish Church in Quincy. It is worth considering if Quincy is still remembering almost 350 years later the Lieutenant’s death with a team identity tied to violence and a race based, primitive and demeaning mascot? This is not teaching history, it is revising and exploiting it.

The harm these stereotypes do to the Native American communities is real. According to Robert Roche, Native American activist “These awful and racist stereotypes create hostile environments from classrooms to playing fields to workplaces to boardrooms.”

Yakoo will always be a part of Quincy’s history. It is time he and the team name are retired with appropriate dignity as pieces from the past no longer having a place in the diverse, honorable city of Quincy today. As the future arrives with every new dawn Quincy, MA, a thriving, energetic modern city of the 21st century, can choose to do the right thing, bring the community together in creating a new, thrilling, strong and positive team identity at North Quincy High School "

Below is an image of the mascot Yakoo at North Quincy High School

You can query the Quincy Sun as to the fact the above piece ran, if interested, at http://thequincysun.com/ and look in the "about" link or
The Quincy Sun
1372 Hancock St.
Quincy, MA 02169
Phone: 617-471-3100
Fax: 617-472-3963
Publisher E-mail: rbosworth@thequincysun.com