March 18, 2009

Warrior stereotypes won't die

Carpinteria to retain most Native American imageryMost of the Native American imagery at Carpinteria High School will stay put, the school district’s Board of Trustees ruled last night at a charged meeting attended by hundreds of people.

With a divisive 3-2 vote, symbolic of the rift that has formed in the community over the last year on this issue, the board chose to rid the school of two Native American images despite a recommendation from a 15-person committee to abolish or alter six of the school’s most prominent Native American displays.

While one side of the room greeted the vote with applause, the other solemnly filed out from the high school gymnasium, where a drum circle, complete with chanting and incense burning was held.

Eli Matisz Cordero, a 16-year-old Carpinteria High School student who first questioned the appropriateness of the imagery a year ago, vowed to continue his fight to wipe the school clean of images he considers signs of blatant racism.
Carpinteria board votes to retain Native American images as part of school regalia

Hundreds attend the special meeting at the city's high school, home of the Warriors since 1928. The issue had sparked claims of racism and political correctness run amok.Soon to be gone are the glowering red caricatures on athletic patches and a cartoon-like Indian head profile on floor mats. But the board rejected recommendations by an advisory committee to remove the sculpture of a Plains Indian chief in the parking lot, or to purge the district's logo of a canoe and arrowheads, or to change or eliminate other symbols.

Echoing controversies that have rocked schools across the U.S. for decades, the debate in Carpinteria has been heated, with accusations of racism, on the one hand, and political correctness run amok on the other.

One after another, residents trooped to the microphone Tuesday night to say that the array of images were meant to honor native Americans, not demean them.
Comment:  Anti-mascot activists have addressed the so-called "honor" argument a thousand times. For one example, see Smashing People:  The "Honor" of Being an Athlete.

With all the education and activism going on, Carpineteria's people can't become more ignorant than they are now. They can only become less ignorant. So these stereotypes will go away eventually. It's inevitable.

If nothing else, the next generation will be more openminded and understanding than this one is. But let's hope it doesn't take that long.

Meanwhile, everyone should continue their efforts. Those of us who don't live in Carpinteria can create Facebook groups, upload videos to YouTube, and post articles and blog entries. Let's aim to associate the Carpinteria Warriors with racism and stereotyping in people's minds. In fact, when people search for "Carpinteria Warriors," let's hope the first item they find says "Carpinteria Warriors are racist."

For more on the subject, see Mascot Foes Receive Death Threats and Team Names and Mascots.

Below:  Carpinteria High School, home of the racists.

Note that these Plains Indian images have nothing to do with the Chumash or other California Indians. They're pure stereotypes.

As always, imagine the outcry if you replaced the Indian "warriors" with stereotypical African warriors. The images would be gone within a week of the first protest. But the racist citizens of Carpinteria think nothing of perpetuating this "honor" for decades.


Anonymous said...

Maybe it's just because I'm a complete nerd who hates sports and racism, but I have a hard time grokking the people who cling to these racist icons. Also I doubt the entire highschool cares, I'd wager it's mostly athletes and the principal and co. I mean I went through high school and I never cared what the mascot was (but then I also had a life).

dmarks said...

Remove the feathers on the float, and give the nose the Turkish treatment, and they are in good shape to have a Fighting Sphinxes mascot.

Rob said...

I suspect a fair amount of Carpinteria's students care. And don't forget the alumni and parents. These people are nutso about "outsiders" telling them what to think or do.

My high school changed its nickname from Titans to Panthers after I left. Naturally, that didn't faze me. One, I can still call myself a Titan if I wish. Two, who cares what your high school does after you leave?

Anonymous said...

Good points, I hadn't considered that.