Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The name says it all

The last time I checked my calendar we were running up on the final days of 2013. Yet there is a debate going on in Houston about whether Lamar High School should change its mascot/nickname.

Lamar High School sits on the outskirts of River Oaks - a very old money section of Houston. It would be a fair guess to assume that Lamar is the most affluent public high school inside the Loop.

The only problem is that Lamar's athletic teams are known as the Redskins. Yes, you read that right. And if you're doing a double-take about the fact that there's a debate going on about whether that nickname is appropriate, count yourself as someone who gets it.

Yes, there are folks in the city who find nothing wrong with the school's nickname. Interestingly enough, none of them are Native Americans.

The point of high school is to educate our youth and prepare them for the challenges of college or the "real world." As far as I know the stated purpose of school is not to perpetuate negative stereotypes of those who look different from us.

And yet there is a debate raging about whether the school should change its nickname.

It's one thing to have this debate about high school and college teams with nicknames like the Fighting Sioux, Indians, Chippewas, Utes, Warriors, etc. It's an entirely different matter to be having this debate about names that are clearly derogatory.

Of course in Houston that might be par for the course. After all, we have both a Robert E. Lee High School and a Jefferson Davis High School. Yet, somehow, there is no Abraham Lincoln High School. What message does it send our youth that our schools are named after white men who fought to preserve slavery?

There is no need for debate. The nickname should be changed. It should've been changed decades ago. We don't have schools with nicknames like Crackers, Darkies and Wetbacks. How many folks do you think would be outraged by those. Yet there are those who cling to some antiquated notion that Redskins is a term of honor bestowed on Native Americans.

I call bullshit on that.

It's time for the school board to show some leadership, make the change and get on with the business of educating our children.

1 comment:

Lee said...

Paul part of this is true in that we should not have derogatory names as high school mascots including your example of "Crackers, Darkies and Wetbacks" to which "Redskins" is part of that.

It is another thing to debate whether or not naming public high schools (we can assume that private high schools can do what they wish) after typical names cemented in American history. While it would be deplorable to mane a high school after Fidel Castro or Josef Stalin can you really put Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, George Washington (slaveowner), or Thomas Jefferson (slaveowner) into that same group. Is it fair to the Japanese community to have a local high school named after Franklin D. Roosevelt given his Executive Order 9066, issued on February 19, 1942. The thing is (except for maybe Abraham Lincoln) you will not find a complete saint even in our presidents. In Flordia, there is an effort going to rename a Nathan Bedford Forrest High School because of his relationship with the KKK after the Civil War. My point is that you are not going to fins a sinless or noncontroversial historical figure for which to name a high school after (except for maybe Lincoln or Woodrow Wilson). Even naming a public school after the sinless Jesus Christ, sinless the Virgin Mary, sinless Mother Theresa, hero Gandhi or Pope John Paul II will cause massive pouting and fits by members of other faiths or ethnicities. An example being that women could cry foul for naming a public high school named for the president that did not have sexual relations with that woman.