February 08, 2011

Wicasset loves "Redskins," "yellow" Japanese

Say ‘No’ to Mascot Racism

By Gale Courey ToensingNearly 256 years after the colonial government of British King George II placed a rich bounty on Indian scalps, Maine’s Regional School Unit 12 (RSU 12) has voted to ban the use of the Redskins name and mascot from all eight schools it governs. The next day as many as 70 of Wiscasset High School’s students staged a walkout protesting the decision. “We would like it to stay Redskins,” a Wiscasset High School student said at the protest. “We use the term with pride… and the majority of the town wanted to keep the name.” One student held a sign that said, say no to change. A Facebook group called “1000 Strong Against Changing the Wiscasset Redskins name” had more than 1,000 members soon after it was created in September.And:There was resistance to change within the school board, “and it was strong and deep,” Bissonette Lewey said. Eugene Stover, a RSU 12 board member and one of the most vocal opponents of dropping the Redskins name, said during a board debate, “We’ve had this in our system since the 1930s and have never once demeaned the Redskin mascot. It’s been treated with dignity and respect. Where is the problem?” Wiscasset residents voted 503-128 against the change in an unofficial survey on Election Day last November. “Those who want to change this should be shot,” someone wrote on a ballot slip, Bissonette Lewey said. She said other comments by some mascot committee members during a meeting in November included the complaint that, “We can’t call the blacks Negroes any more, now you’re telling us we can’t call Indians redskins? Next thing will be not to call Japanese yellow.”Comment:  I posted this because of the final quote, which is revealing. It's all there in the words and tone. This board member is asserting the white privilege to say and do whatever he or she wants. What matters is this person's beliefs, feelings, and desires--and nothing else.

Here's a translation of the board member's comments: "The brown-skins are telling us--white people!--what to do. Don't they understand that we're in charge? How much of this pretense of equality and sensitivity do we have to endure?

"The Indians lost...we own them...we made them our pet mascots to 'honor' them. And now they're off the reservation and on the warpath again? We won't tolerate these uppity coons, wetbacks, gooks, or redskins. If they don't like living in a white Christian country under our control, they can go back where they came from.

"This is our country, not theirs. We stole it fair and square. Finder's keepers, losers weepers."

Back to the 1950s

Really, this board member is okay with calling Indians "redskins" and the Japanese "yellow"? Is the person also okay with terms such as "spade," "mick," "wop," and "hebe"? I'm guessing yes.

Calling the Japanese "yellow" is decades out of date. Which again suggests where these people are coming from. They want to return to the pre-1960s era when whites called minorities whatever they wanted: "Negro," "redskin," or "yellow." And minorities either liked it or lumped it. Those were the good ol' days: when inferiors didn't have the right or the power to contradict their superiors.

Then there's the usual right-wing appeal to violence. This board member figuratively (or literally?) wants to kill anyone who disagrees. The brown-skins aren't quite American or human, the person seems to be saying, so we can do whatever we want with them. Like cats and dogs, we can "put them down" if they become too annoying.

Meanwhile, Eugene Stover has totally missed the point. It's not how you treat your Redskins mascot that matters, Stover. It's how your mascot "treats"--i.e., offends and insults--other people. Your intent is irrelevant compared to the outcome. If the mascot promotes harmful stereotypes, who cares about your childish obsession?

For more absurd mascot positions, see Miami Students Sing "Scalp Song" and Student "Tribe" Shows Team Spirit.

Below:  How Wiscasset High School views minorities.

1 comment:

Jaine said...

Interesting comment you make about "our country", I recently exchanged words with someone on youtube who wanted to keep America a "white" country (he/she was arguing that immigration was white genocide). I had to point out that America has never been a "white" country and that white people were the majority there because of actual genocide (not some white extinction hysteria that this person had), and by their own argument (white countries for white people) all white people should should go back to Europe.