|Penobscot Youth Council members drove through an ice storm to be present for the Skowhegan mascot public forum. |
Photo credit: Jeff Kirlin
|Albie Barden Photo credit: Jeff Kirlin|
|Penobscot member Skyler Lewie, 15, telling the board they cannot possibly know what it feels like to be in her shoes.|
Photo: Jeff Kirlin
Student Kayla Dickinson pointed out that racially motivated bullying at Skowhegan Area High School is a daily byproduct of a racist mascot being tolerated.
Dickinson reminded the board that students deserve a safe learning environment, and scolded the board for not providing that.
Several students pointed out how hard it is to play sports for teams perceived as racist throughout the state.
Some provided history lessons on the Norridgewock massacre in the 1700s, and some provided information on the effects of the mass removal of Native children from their families in the 1970s. Some provided citations for studies demonstrating the harm of Native mascots on young people's confidence and educational outcomes. Some listed the many, many education and psychology organizations on record opposing Native mascots.
(If this embedded video of the entire public forum does not work for you, you can view it here on YouTube.)
Interestingly, nobody spoke to an ongoing informal boycott both of business displaying Skowhegan Indian Pride signage, and of the town itself. Based on social media postings I've seen, there are numerous people who vote with their pocketbooks and decline to shop or dine there these days. Sadly, Skowhegan's identity as a sinkhole of racism is pretty well established by now and it will take years to undo it.
My grandpa is a lifelong skowhegan resident, can confirm the racist bit.— your mom (@w33niehutjunior) January 10, 2019
But, there are some glimmers of hope on the horizon.
|Still from DAWNLAND.|
Click here to download a free PDF of the DAWNLAND Viewer’s Guide.
A local arts council is working out a plan to screen the documentary DAWNLAND so people in Skowhegan can learn more about how the state of Maine treated Native families when I was in college.
You can also see DAWNLAND today, January 12, at 11am on Maine Public Broadcasting's Independent Lens.
Also, Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ) central Maine chapter is looking into organizing a door knocking campaign similar to one I participated in last year in Augusta (you can read about that here).
There are lots of other ideas floating around, too. The time is right to move in a positive direction.