This evening there is a meeting of the Quincy School Committee at the Quincy, MA Central Middle School at 6:00 pm. The topic includes a request by the citywide Parent Teacher Organization to open a discussion around the issue of Yakoo, the very racist mascot of North Quincy High School. There are reports of a $400,000 gift to the school by the man who has the face caricatured in Yakoo. Note that there is a trademark on Yakoo which means there is potential for private income.
Quincy MA is an interesting city. There are two presidents and their wives buried in a crypt owned by the family: President John Adams, a framer of both the Massachusetts and American Constitutions, and his wife Abigail and President John Quincy Adams and his wife Louisa. The Crypt is under United First Parish Church, a Unitarian Universalist parish. John Quincy Adams was John Adams' son. Their homes in Quincy, MA are on the National Historic Register and, like the Church they are popular tourist sites. The City of Quincy owns the bells and the clock in the Church tower.
Today Quincy has two high schools: North Quincy High School and Quincy High School. Quincy HS has sports teams identified as "Presidents" and their image is a top hat with white and blue vertical stripes. The team name at North QHS (aka North) is the "Red Raiders" and the mascot is Yakoo. The facial image, trademarked, is a caricature of Dr. Alan Yakubian a former player on the NQHS football team and now a retired dentist. While the school mascot supporters often claim the image is not that of an "Indian" the clothes, tomahawk(supposedly a stone hammer but who is splitting hairs here?), the feather in the hair, the moccasins combine with the team name to clearly demonstrate an indigenous person. Dr. Yakubian is supposedly Armenian so perhaps the team name and attire of the mascot should change to reflect this? Recent reports claim Dr. Yakubian has created a Scholarship fund for NQHS students with $400,00 as seed funding.
It is truly time to stop teaching racism in the schools throughout Massachusetts. Better yet, move past the Quincy modern day enactment of the Revolutiony and pre-Revolutionary War conflicts between the indigenous people and the Europeans, or even among the Europeans themselves since sometimes "raiders" had permission, in the forms of letters of marque, to act as licensed agents of the crown--or legal pirates/raiders to confiscate goods from any and all opponents of any particular royal king or queen in Europe. The history of this can be taught to all students and players moving forward in Quincy but the racism taught through of "Red Raiders" and "Yakoo" must stop.
Interestingly in the genealogy of the Adams Family the first Adams ancestor to arrive from Europe was reportedly Henry Adams. Hi son, Lt. Henry Adams was killed in an "Indian Raid" during Metacomet's War (aka Kind Philip's war) and in the town, Quincy, MA where the family is still honored the high schools perpetuate this violence. Once a bit of history is learned in the schools and throughout the community the absurdity of these team identities may be recognized. No matter the local feeling the team plays other schools throughout the region. There is a bill in front of the Massachusetts Congress to render Native American team mascots illegal. Quincy should not wait on statewide action when it is in such a prominent position to lead and do the good and right thing.
America has been founded on the principle of change for the better. Life is always changing. This is not about being politically correct, although evidently the mayor thinks it is(see main link) nor is it about forgetting or insulting alumni and/or Dr. Yakubian who have supported the team and school in the past. It is about finding the courage to change, build a new and respectful path forward and not let loud, unthinking bullies control the decision making process in our of our founding American cities.
Massachusetts is over 80% "white" and we all live on what were once tribal lands, where many wars were fought over many centuries. Some land claims remain disputed to this day. This is not an indigenous issue, racism harms everyone. WE must not expect only indigenous people to address this since it is mostly non-indigenous people, people who are not members of either a stereotyped or caricatured group, who promote racist stereotypes and caricatures. This is an issue about the type of people each and every one of us are, want to be or can find our way to be.
Politicians make their decisions based on their own consciences and the positions of their voters and supporters. This issue is large than Quincy, MA as given the location of the city it goes to the foundations of America. The problems with racism in America are real, often brutally violent and the ties to sport highly showcased across many sports in the current "take a knee" efforts.
No one has all the answers, no one has perfect answers yet this much is clear: we can and must stop doing things we know cause problems, things we can identify as wrong. IN the 21st century we can come together, do good and be better, and Quincy can start. Will we, will it?