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The Joys of Racism


My former high school in suburban Ohio prides itself on having zero tolerance for racism. But does it really? The administration and faculty seem to think they know blatant racism, but what about the subtle type that happens every day? The school's team name and logo, the Redskins, is evidence of their lack of sensitivity toward the Native American community.


In my two years at this school, I observed many subtle racist actions regarding the Redskin name. Banners reading "Let's scalp them" were hung on the walls before sporting events. The human mascot (an Indian with a tomahawk) at football games would walk along the sideline, haranguing and pretending to scalp the other team's cheerleaders. My family and I were horrified at these not only politically incorrect, but also racist, actions.


Many students and staff have no problem with this offensive name, even after complaints were aired by several Native American organizations. One man told the school board, "We are viewed as a baseball team [and] a basketball team ... I ask you to give some dignity back to the American Indian people."


In response, this closed-minded community formed a committee called "S.O.S. - Save Our Skins." Most of the students associate the nickname with school traditions. "Why should we change the name of our school just because it offends someone?" one sophomore asked during a heated class argument.


No one seemed to care about the Native Americans' perspective.


When a sports reporter wrote an editorial about the refusal of the school to change its name, he referred to the supporters as "Blockheads." People became incensed at his label and could not understand the analogy.


After reading the editorial, my mother took the opportunity to inform the principal of the mascot's embarrassing antics at football games. He replied, "And you think that's racism?" He tried to explain to her that we should revere the Redskin name as noble and strong. "This is the reason," he explained "that we took the name." Apparently he didn't know the term "Redskin" is a Dutch name given to the scalps of American Indians killed for bounties. If the name "Blockhead" angered residents of this town, then the name "Redskin" surely offends Native Americans.


After much heated debate, and knowing that the Native American community finds it offensive, the school board decided to keep the name Redskins. Racism comes in many forms, and retaining the offensive nickname exemplifies the insensitivity toward those of another culture.


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