A Scholarship to Teach Racism or Silence Opposition to Racism?

Is This A Scholarship For Teaching Racism in Quincy Sports Dr. Yakubian? Mayor Koch, Do you Understand the Power of Racist Images? 

In this holiday season of celebration of family, sharing of time with loved ones and coming together to build new memories upon longstanding traditions it is sad to share troubling news...but sometimes it can be hoped that things can be changed, in the spirit of the season.

The issue of racism being taught through sports teams' identities--names and mascots--is a main topic here, especially when schools are involved. Quincy, MA, the home of two high schools has been a frequent focus. Please scroll through for images and some history of the situation. A new development deserves attention, beyond the Citywide PTO letter to the Quincy School Committee of last week, asking for change and a community wide discussion.

A scholarship grant of $400,000 has been given to the City of Quincy and accepted by the City Council with funding from Dr. Yakubian, the face caricatured in Yakoo at North Quincy High School. While the document concerning the scholarship funded by Dr. Alan Yakubianm a retired Quincy dentist is not yet online I was able to obtain, via email from Quincy City offices a copy of Order 2017-190, accepting the scholarship, submitted to City Council by Mayor Koch, passed 12-4-2017 and approved by the City Clerk 12-5-2017. The full document is below.

Item 3. states that as part of the selection process for scholarship recipients there shall be "input" from Dr. Yakubian, the fund donor. The fund is to be named in perpetuity the Yakubian Family Scholarship Fund and the City agrees to "carry out the intent of donor of the fund, Dr. Yakubian "forevermore."

I honestly do not know why the Quincy City Council accepted these funds under such terms when the lawyers on the Council could certainly have inserted a clause clearly stating that either the fund application process shall be anonymous or that any actions by any potential recipients of scholarship awards shall not include any evaluation as to their work, for or against or around the sports teams' identities or mascots or some similar shielding provision.

The teaching racism to students and communities through stereotypes and caricatures impacts everyone. If an educational effort is needed as to why images are racist and how they can teach racism as acceptable then the schools should be leading the discussions, not perpetuating harm. If Dr. Yakubian is interested in the well-being of the students and Quincy as a whole then he can show leadership by advocating to retire the mascot while continuing the scholarship. Should he choose not to do so then perhaps the City Council can act with integrity and moral decency and refuse the funds. All politicians should well understand the potential harm of racism and the danger of accepting monies carrying hidden and not so hidden agendas.

Here is the actual City Council Order 2017-190:

ORDER No. 2017-190
ORDERED: December 04, 2017
BE IT ORDAINED that the city of Quincy accept the bequest of Dr. Allan H. Yacubian In the sum of S4()0,000.0() to vest upon the following terms and conditions:
1. Upon receipt of the funds, the City of Quincy shall establish a fund to be known as ' '1Ole Yacubian Family Scholarship Fund." The funds shall be deposited on account of The Fund, and shall be invested m a manner so that the annual accrued interest may be used to award 5 scholarships annually to graduates of North Quincy High School and 5 scholarships to graduates of Quincy High School — each graduate to receive the same amount.
2. Selection of the scholarship recipients shall be made by the scholarship committee at each High School, with input from the fund donor, Dr. Yacubian.
3. Scholarship Recipients need not attend college, but students not furthering their formal education at a post-secondary institution must otherwise use the funds to pursue a career that requires tratning. Recipients must be legal citizens of the United States of Amenca.
4. Any organization or individual may add to the principal of the fund, and each is invited to do so. The fund should be called the Yacubian Family Scholarship Fund in perpetuity.
ORDER NO. 2017 190 Page 2 of 2
BE IT FURTHER ORDAINED that the City Treasurer be and is hereby authorized to assume the duties of Trustee to oversee the Investments of said fund. In consideration of said gift the City Pledges to forever more carry out the intent of the donor, Dr. Allan H. Yacubian.
APPROVED: December 5, 2017

YEAS Palmucci
NAYS Cain, Croall, DiBona, Finn, Harris, Hughes, Laforest, Liangæ-lmuc-cä

Yes, in the copy I received the same names are listed in Yeas and Nays,something I hope will be corrected when made available online.

Finally, it is essentially unclear what the intent of Dr. Yakubian is with the scholarship. Therefore administering these funds in the 'intent" of Dr Yakubian is not possible, something I believe the Quincy legal department should have clarified long before the Mayor submitted the proposal. This looks flawed from its inception and it is sincerely hoped that the City of Quincy, the officials and school administrators will carefully address the entire situation. No imagined debt is ever owed to the giver of a gift, otherwise it is not a gift and other less savory names attach to the monies involved. Certainly such a "gift" in Quincy, given the complex issues involved should not be justification for ignoring the racism of the overall mascot or artificially isolating the discussion to the local community given the interactions of the teams with and in the leagues they are involved with as they play other schools. The school team identity carries impacts far beyond the school's walls and reaches into the lives of all students attending the school.

What were they, the officials and the donor thinking? How intentionally blind, or even quietly racist are those involved? Dr. Yakubian is supposedly Armenian. Armenia is a country with a complicated history and there is history of genocide in the recent past and deadly conflict arising even more recently largely based on group identity. Surely Dr. Yakubian understands this. Why does he support a team with a race based name and mascot?

Are the politicians blinded by a few loud voices, are they living in an echo chamber whose walls were built decades ago or do they simply prefer their familiar images and symbols and deliberately refuse to understand the harmful impacts they are inflicting on communities and children today? Should the scholarship remain unchanged, should the mascot remain in place future generations and even children in the schools today will question the judgment underlying a possible cult of personality and the willful blindness to the harm being caused.

In this season of coming together across boundaries this entire situation can still be resolved, community understanding can be built but it will take the will to do the right thing and the determination to stand for the actions of integrity and good for all students. Do the leaders in Quincy, from the teachers in the classrooms to all those in administration, to the student guidance and counseling departments, to the religious and spiritual community leaders, to the general public, to and an all outside organizations involved with the schools and of course the political, academic and sports leadership in the region--do they have the courage to bring about a good outcome here, one all students can enjoy or will they retreat into being busy, distracted or hide behind claims of the issue being beyond their area of involvement or expertise and remain silent and essentially lazily entrenched in the status quo? The choice is theirs. And ours. Silence condones. Do not be silent.

This is a racist image. It trivializes, harms and insults everyone, Racism harms us all

This is a racist image. It trivializes, harms and insults everyone, Racism harms us all