Sunday, May 3, 2015

Time To Retire The Racist Mascot Of Skowhegan High School "Indians" #mepolitics

Monday, May 4 School Board meeting
Skowhegan Middle School

Only residents will be allowed to speak. Please reach out to your friends and family who can speak, even if you cannot.

When Skowhegan, Maine began using the Indian mascot, no harm was intended.

People who defend the mascot claim its intent is to "honor" the people of Maine's tribes. But representatives from all four tribes -- Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet and Micmac -- have told the school board they do not feel honored.

In 2015, it is clear that the institutionalized racism inherent in using native people as team mascots harms us all. Maine's tribal leaders have repeatedly told the school board they are offended by the Indian mascot. Penboscot elder Barry Dana has stated, "Why should I need to explain why I am offended? Shouldn't the fact that I am offended be enough?"

Passamaquoddy elder Madonna Scotomah asked the Skowhegan school board last month why a team or its fans would want to imitate someone else's culture, or consider that imitation an honor?

The American Psychological Association has published research indicating that the use of American Indian mascots harms all children exposed to it, including those seeing their culture misrepresented. In 2005 the APA called on schools to retire the use of such mascots.

A Canadian First Nations man who was successful in getting a youth league football team to change its name from the the Nepean Redskins to the Nepean Eagles. put it this way:
"[racist team names] are the most in-your-face socially acceptable systemic oppression within our society and yet it's used by children's football teams. 
It's not even a gateway drug for racism, it is racism."
You can read more about Ian Campeau's successful effort here.

The Bangor Daily News published this editorial on April 30: 
Junior Scott LaFlamme hides from fellow Old Town High School students as they file into the gym before the introduction of the school’s new coyote mascot in April 2006. The school’s former mascot, an Indian, was replaced because it was deemed disrespectful to the Penobscot Indian Nation.
A high school age opponent of the change told reporters in Skowhegan last month that changing the team name would "erase history." As a history major and teacher, I beg to differ. History, in fact, is all about change. Some changes are bad for us while others are beneficial. Let's hope the Skowhegan School Board finds the courage to do the right thing.

When they do  retire the Indian mascot, Maine will become the first state in the U.S. with no racist high school team mascots. Dirigo!

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