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What’s In a Name?

08 Nov
What’s In a Name?

“Who gave you that numb?”
James Joyce, Finnegans Wake

 

 When you think about it, most sports mascots are intrinsically silly.  Cardinals and Orioles are songbirds, not even raptors.  I don’t even know what on earth a seahawk is, but perhaps the “Seattle Ospreys” doesn’t quite convey the punch.  Penguins playing hockey – is that supposed to distract your opponent by giving them the giggles?  Would anybody know that a Bruin is a bear?  Is there any coincidence that the most tragic team in baseball is named after a baby animal – the Cubs?  Why not the Kansas City Kittens or Poughkeepsie Puppies?  And while Miami might have the most perfect season in the history of the NFL, its mascot is the indisputably gay dolphin, with cute turquoise, aqua, and corral colors.

The Padres?  Is that a joke, conjuring a Spanish priest or friar swinging a bat, beating a confession out of you?  (In the light of church abuse sex scandals, I really don’t think it wholesome to put together “Padre” and “sacrifice fly” in the same sentence.)  I suppose the “Saints” of New Orleans is not that far a cry from seminary insignia, but the colloquial Saints – as opposed to those canonized few from Christianity – are so rooted in the city’s cultural identity that nothing else would do.  All the same, if a town in my home county in New Jersey wanted to pony up the money for a new pro franchise team and call them the “Rabbis,” I’d be amongst the first to buy a tschotske – maybe one of those “Fans Only Parking” signs for the garage, whose bottom tagline would read “all other vehicles will be towed – though not on the Sabbath.”

Some teams more or less refer to a city’s halcyon past or creation story – the ‘49ers is nostalgic, as is the ‘76ers.  Portland Trailblazers and Detroit Pistons.  Houston can’t get enough of its NASA-based history, to wit the “Astros” as well as the “Rockets.”  The Bulls of Chicago basketball harkens back to its stockyard days – “hog butcher for the world” and all that.  The St Louis Blues, now that’s just awesome – certainly more fitting than the Utah Jazz (formerly from NOLA), but maybe better than the “Stormin’ Mormons.”  And naming a team after a poem, as is the case in the Baltimore Ravens, in honor of Edgar Allen Poe, well that’s almost too good to be true.  The Edmonton Oilers and the Milwaukee Brewers, the Steelers and the Packers, the Cowboys and the Patriots, the Mariners and Knickerbockers – all good solid professions invoking a time and place.  The Minnesota Twins is a cute concept, linking Minneapolis and St Paul.  You gotta love The New York Islanders – who names a team after a terminal moraine?  I mean there are Rockies and Nuggets, sure, but a land mass the last glacial movement left behind?!?

There are some teams of course basking in an honorable tradition of rape, pillaging, plunder, and murder: Pirates, Raiders, Buccaneers, Cavaliers, Vikings, etc.  (The “Cavs” in particular were supporters of King Charles I in the English Civil War.)  I’m still waiting for the Visigoths myself.  The “Chargers” of San Diego, much to my regret, has nothing to do with electricity or kilowatts, but instead the lame-brained act of charging.  That kind of bubblegum twaddle is more fitting for peewee leagues, don’t you think?  At least go with “Bolts” or “Lightning,” “Voltage” could be cool.  The “Flyers” of Philadelphia refer to absolutely nothing.  And as far as I can tell, the “Sabres” of Buffalo is the only actual weapon any pro sports franchise has, a word, let’s face it, only used when coupled with “rattling,” and always as a metaphor.  Now, naming a team after a metaphor, that would be exquisite – the Buffalo “Sabre-Rattlers.”  It would put a whole new political meaning to “face off.”

Then there are the obscurities.  A Kansas City “Royal” refers to a livestock/ horse show/ rodeo, not that anyone outside of the area (or wikipedia) would know that.  Likewise, the Oakland “Atletics,” or “A’s,” is a bit arcane, as it harkens back to the 19th Century pastime of athletic clubs in cities around the nation.  The “Browns” of Cleveland – whose mascot and logo is nothing more than a hue of orange (maybe a paint sample from Sherwin Williams) – does not refer to their then legendary first coach, Paul Brown, but – and yes, this does require a stretch of the attention span – boxer Joe Lewis, aka the “brown bomber.”  (Not terribly flattering, referring to an African-American man as “brown,” anymore than calling Hulk Hogan as the “Pink Piler,” but such were the times, I guess.) The L.A. “Dodgers” name conjures a more colorful past when the franchise was originally in Brooklyn and people had to dodge between streetcars when crossing boulevards.

College teams may well take the cake for mascots though.  From the Artichokes of Scottsdale to the Zips of Akron, a pantheon of strange names marks our hallowed halls of higher learning.  There are the Banana Slugs of UC Santa Cruz, the Battlin’ Beavers of Blackburn, the Blue Hens of Delaware, and the Boilermakers of Purdue; the Claim Jumpers of Columbia College, the Cornfers of Nebraska or the Concordia Cobbers of Moorhead, Minnesota; the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest maybe in cahoots with the Devilettes of Mississippi Valley State; the inscrutable Ephs of Williams and the menacing Lord Jeffs of Amherst; The Fighting Muskies of Muskingum University; the Gauchos of UC Santa Barbara, the Geoducks of Evergreen State, the Golden Griffins of Canisius, and the Gorloks of Webster; the Green Terror of Daniel, the Purple Aces of Evansville, and of course the Crimson Tide of Alabama or just Crimson of Harvard; the Horned Frogs of Texas Christian; the Jumbos of Tufts; the Western Illinois Leathernecks and the Lumberjills of Northland College; the Maccabees of Yeshiva University; the Fighting Okra of Delta State U; the Peahens of St. Peter’s College in Jersey City, NJ, and the Platypi of St John’s College in Annapolis, MD; the Riverbats of Austin Community College; the Scarlet Raptors of Rutgers-Camden; the Tar Heels of North Carolina; the Valkyries of Converse in South Carolina and the Vandals of Moscow, Idaho; and who could forget about the Yeomen of Oberlin?

 What may well be my personal fave, perhaps because I am a sucker for wordplay, is the baseball team of Long Beach State in California called the Dirtbags.  Now, that’s just deliriously good fun!  With mentionable but still distant seconds going to the Hardrockers of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and the Hustlin’ Owls of the Oregon Institute of Technology.

 *

OK, so now is as good a time as any to explain where I am going with this and/or dispel the wonder whether such lighthearted irrelevance is the fluffy stuff of a raving scribbler who has taken a too long blogging sabbatical.  While a George Carlin-esque cataloguing of sports team mascots would certainly be fun and humorous, it’s the opposite of fun or humor that I currently have in mind: Republican legislation.  For once more the lot we have in Wisconsin are spending a considerable amount of time rescinding laws created and passed by Democrats only a few years ago when they, the GOP, were the minority party, debating bills today that serve no economic purpose and create zero jobs, but instead serve to drag us backwards by dismantling anything with a whiff of progressive about it (or just having to do with progress), all in order to make white conservatives feel better about the make-believe world in which they live.  After all, what better way to recognize and adapt to the pluralistic multicultural reality of 21st Century America than spend time reversing a state law banning Native American mascots for school district sports teams?

Here’s the quick background to this story: in 2009 Democrats passed a law – the first of its kind in the country – that effectively banned race-based names and mascots in school districts.  The way it worked was if a single complaint about a logo, mascot, or nickname was considered to be offensive and officially filed with the state Department of Public Instruction (DPI), a review process by the DPI would commence.  After the new law went into effect many school districts voluntarily changed their team names, while others were forced to by the state.  One in particular was and remains defiant: Mukwonago in Waukesha County, some 30 miles outside of Milwaukee.  Mukwonago claims that it would cost the school district $100,000 to replace its uniforms and signs, its letterhead and I guess even the paint on gym floors, and that the name “Indians” is part of their identity.  Leaving the latter point aside for a moment, is the district or its defenders really claiming that it is too expensive to stop being racist?  By the way, here is their mascot:

                                                 mascot Mukwonago

I’d look pretty pissed too.  You’d think they’d have at least the cosmetic sense, if not the moral one, to use this Big Government Run Amok! occasion to clean up their act while still saving face.  But no, their pride is their prejudice.

The new bill, written by and for white Republicans in southeastern Wisconsin, ostensibly for the sole purpose of rescuing Mukwonago from the tyranny of contemporary society, would dismantle the law passed in 2009.  Among its notable changes is that now if someone wishes to make a complaint against a logo, mascot, or nickname, first they must collect signatures equaling 10 percent of the school population in order for the complaint to be officially filed – to be taken seriously.  Also adorable is that no longer would such complaints be received by the DPI; instead, the Department of Administration (DOA) would handle such matters.  This is no incidental switcheroo.  The DPI is headed by the state superintendent, a non-partisan position elected into office by the people of Wisconsin.  By contrast, the head of the DOA is a gubernatorial appointment position, and in this case the handpicked lackey of Scott Walker himself.

 Now, before we go any further, here are the talking points of the proponents of this bill:

~  It provides fairness and a level playing field to the process;
~  The use of these logos/mascots/nicknames honors Native Americans;
~  The majority of Native Americans don’t find the use of Indian mascots offensive in the first place; and
~  What about teams named Vikings?  That’s Scandinavian; should we get rid of those, too?

The problem with the first claim – about supposed fairness – which, by the way, is a really weird and wildly disingenuous argument to make when the question at hand is about race-based stereotyping – is that it is disproportionate and disoriented.  If one feels harassed or demeaned, should not the burden of proof be on the bully and not the victim?  Defenders of this bill claim that they are being considered guilty before being proved innocent, and that this is unfair.  But exactly how is this so?  A complainant files a grievance, and then there is a process during which time an elected official conducts a review.  What is unfair or onerous about this?  But the new bill would now require the complainant to collect signatures equaling 10 percent of the school population before the complaint could be taken seriously.  To put this another way, would it be “fair” for a woman working in a factory with a bunch of sexist men, who have dubbed their bowling team “The Housewives,” to collect 10 percent worth of signatures from these very chauvinists that they too find their team nickname to be misogynistic?  Would it be fair for a Dubliner in an office whose after work softball team were called the “Paddy McDrunkards” to have to find ten out of one hundred colleagues who agreed with him that this hurt him personally?  Should we really require a Polish-American to humiliate herself further by pleading her neighbors to acknowledge that naming the library “Polack” would be demeaning?  Providing fairness to an offender, that is what Republicans are advocating.

Next is the notion of honoring, as though a cartoonish caricature of a nearly extinct race of people is a solemn encomium – a race made nearly extinct by the great-great-grandfathers of the present day hormone-crazed teenagers running around a gym or field.  This notion is at best clumsy masquerading as well-intentioned, at worst the abysmal privilege of arrogance and ignorance.  If you want to honor a Native American, volunteer at a reservation or kickstart a micro-loan program, invite one to dinner or offer one a job.  Go to a pow-wow and discover fry bread.  But for God’s sake stop depicting them in sloppy stereotypes like some kind of false idol.  Using a Plains warrior in feathered headdress to represent your girls soccer team is a far cry from an honor.  It is the epitome of patronization, particularly when the athletic field they’re running around was almost certainly the original home to a particular nation or tribe.  You want to honor an Indian?  Move.  Cede your property.  Stop killing the earth in pursuit of insatiable consumerism.

Put differently, what if a school district’s mascot were called the “Hasidim” and the locals – almost none of them Jews – claimed they were honoring the scholarly wisdom of the Jewish people?  Maybe the Boscobel Baalshemtovs?  I’m pretty sure this shit wouldn’t fly.

This reminds me of a huge 50′-tall statue overlooking the Rock River in northcentral Illinois nicknamed by locals “Black Hawk” – even though it bears zero resemblance to Chief Black Hawk – while officially called “The Eternal Indian” by the sculptor (you know, just like “The Eternal European” or “The Timeless Asian”).  Indeed, it doesn’t resemble anybody, as the sculptor, Lorado Taft, didn’t have any individual person (or model) in mind, but rather a well-meaning if generic (and not entirely sensitive) homage to Native Americans the land over.

DSCN5706

I’m not sure which irks me more: the it’s-OK-to-generalize-about-a-people sentiment inherent in the statue and the sculptor’s whimsical innocence (“their love of and connection to nature…”) or the fact that it has been dubbed colloquially/ locally “Black Hawk.”  True, the Black Hawk War was the last skirmish fought on this side of the Mississippi River – particularly places along or near the Rock River – and so maybe an argument could be made about Chief Black Hawk being a proxy for his people who were forced to concede their home and land (this region of Wisconsin and Illinois) to the White Man.  But as a privileged participant of the white race and male gender, if not a descendant from those prairie homesteaders of the 19th Century, this effort seems to me weak at best and positively inadequate.  In this sense the iconography is no different than the damn mascot of the Chicago Blackhawks NHL team (even though Chicago was originally Pottawatomi country, and Chief Black Hawk was Sauk).  This would be like naming a team the Washingtons or Grants or Eisenhowers with a mascot that in no way resembles George, Ulysses, or Dwight.  Wouldn’t white people care about such careless handling of their heritage?

This is what Black Hawk actually looked like…

mascot black_hawk_lg

And here is the mascot of the Chicago Blackhawks:

mascot Chicago-Blackhawks

Spitting image, no?  Now, I know that the hockey team was originally named after the rich tycoon founding owner’s infantry division in WWI, the 333rd Machine Gun Battalion of the 86th Infantry Division, nicknamed the “Blackhawk Division,” but this in turn was named after Chief Black Hawk himself.  That might explain the Pottawattomi/ Sauk discrepancy, but it sure as hell does nothing for the peace-loving, Land-O-Lakes-like cartoon mascot.  What’s more, does the irony of the United States army incorporating the name “Black Hawk,” a man with whom a century before it went to war, need to be pointed out?  Will there be a Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Division a hundred years from now, “the KSMs” or “Kayessems”?

Furthermore, what exactly is supposed to be honored here?  Bravery?  Warriors?  Fighting?  Then why don’t we name the public school swim team the “Navy Seals” and deck them out in blue bathing suits?  The figure skating club could be the “Army Brats.”  Why not the Marines or F-15s?  Why not use our own culture’s vocabulary of war?  Also, is there not yet one more stereotype latent in claiming that all Native American bands, nations, and tribes were known for their warrior spirit, their bravery in battle?  And even if this were so, even if it were, let us here and now cease suffering from collective amnesia.  Why were the natives so brave and courageous?  Because we Europeans were killing them and taking their land.  Don’t you think you too would fight like hell if terrorists knocked down your front door and threatened to kill your family?

Moving on is this murky business of Native Americans not caring about the appropriation of their identity – at least the clumsy and callous stereotyping of an identity.  Those who will make this claim invariably allude to a survey conducted by Annenberg, up to and including the owner of the Washington Redskins, Dan Snyder.  (Could there be a better name than “he who is snide” for the owner of the most insensitive, godawful, and racist team name anywhere?)  Indeed, what the survey found was that 90 percent of those who identified as Indian or Native American thought it no big deal that the Washington Redskins were called and looked like what they are.  As the cultural critic Roland Barthes once wrote, “I raise before the other the figure of my own disappearance, as it will surely occur, if the other does not yield (to what?).”

There are, however, a few things that should be pointed out.  The survey was about the NFL team exclusively, not school districts or the use of Indian mascots in general.  Of the 65,000+ individuals who participated in the survey, 768 self-identified as being Native American, or 1.2 percent of the poll’s population sample.  This poll was taken ten years ago, several years before the movement to eliminate Indian mascots from public schools across the states received any national attention – a movement that began in Wisconsin.  Besides, is this not similar to asking vegetarians if they found the name “Packers” offensive, as it is short for meat packers, or whether the former Hartford Whalers NHL team was too PETA-insensitive?

Also, who is to say that a Native American – which is as lumpy and imprecise a demographic as one can get, as it is way too broad and vague a definition out of which to deduce a conclusive consensus; “Indians” can mean 565 different tribes and bands of federally recognized peoples – but who is to say that a Native American who is OK about mascots being used has thought about this long and hard?  Seriously.  This survey was a telephone interview out of the blue.  Now, that may sound condescending of me to say, but it is a commonplace that colonized peoples in time tend to mimic the attitudes, beliefs, and lifestyle of the colonial power, in effect mimicking these behaviors for the sake of assimilation.  This is logical, if tragic, as it best increases their eventual survival.  But such inculcation ends up inoculating them to what should be repellent in the first place, leaving them more alienated than ever, floundering now between one group it can never fully become a part of and another to which it has lost all but all of its ties.  What the philosopher Herbert Marcuse called the “repressive desublimation,” when a voice of protest has become co-opted, it champions that which it once decried and in turn becomes a tool for the oppressive agent; rather than resist, it serves to support its own suppression.

Finally, there is the canard about Vikings – and because I’m generous I will add to this some other essentially Caucasian-based names or mascots.  It’s true that the Vikings were Scandinavian.  It’s also true that they were brutish thugs who raped and plundered, murdered, and burned down whole towns.  A bit of a strange heritage to name your intramural tennis team after.  But the age of the Vikings was so long ago that what atrocities they actually committed are a footnote of history.  Besides, here in the Upper Midwest, where Norwegians and Swedes are ubiquitous (oh ya then you betcha!), it’s part of the cultural iconography together with lutefisk and lefse, lingonberries and Swedish meatballs.  It might be a little clumsy – again, they were murderers and rapists – but it’s basically benign.  Maybe it takes a thousand years of whitewashing to clean a clan’s name.  Pirates have become pretty innocuous, too, considering that they too were looting fools who went on rape-and-murder benders, but now are germane and an exclamation mark of pop culture.  Regardless, Vikings were white, and the issue here is white school districts.  I do wonder how all the modern-day Oles and Lenas sitting on school boards would feel if an all-black school in Harlem adopted the name Vikings, complete with blond hair and blue eyes.  How would we feel about a charter school for Lakota-only children whose team name was the “Gen. Custers”?  Or a Latino-predominant school district in Georgia called the “Fiery Shermans”?  I don’t think it would have a snowball’s chance in hell.

 There is a smattering of Caucasian-based team names, the two most known being the Boston Celtics and the “Fighting Irish” of Notre Dame.

mascots CelticsLogo_History

 mascots fighting-irish.jpg

Is not the latter a bit politically incorrect, certainly stereotypical?  Sure.  But, well, two things: (1) the Irish in America have always been belittled, disenfranchised, and stereotyped; and (2) Notre Dame is such a bastion of college sports lure, football in particular, that it’s highly unlikely any hue and cry will cause it to change its name.  Plus it’s a Catholic school, not a public institution.  And Boston, home of the Celtics, probably has more people of Irish descent per capita than anywhere outside of Ireland.  As with the Vikings in the Midwest, it is different when your mascot is based on your own heritage.  There’s no getting around that double standard.

After a somewhat extensive search, there are other team names I could find that could be applicable, all collegiate.  The “Terrible Swedes” of Bethany College in Lindsborg, KS, is arguably glaring, or the “Norse” of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa (home of the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum) as well as the “Norse” of Northern Kentucky in Highland Heights, whose mascot is Victor E. Viking (get it, “victory”? – though my guess is “Norse” is short for northern, as Highland Heights is a suburb of Cincinnati, a region little associated with Norwegian demographics).  There are the “Saxons” of Alfred University, NY, referring I guess to the Germanic tribes that conquered parts of Great Britain to later become Anglo-Saxons.  There are the “Gaels” of Iona and St. Mary’s.  Several schools have “Fighting Scots” or just plain-Jane and maybe more pacifist-prone “Scots,” but most of these schools have an affiliation with Scottish heritage (Edinboro College in Pennsylvania) or are Presbyterian schools (Macalister in St Paul).  But again, the dominant WASP culture of America has depicted both Irish and Scots as louts who fight hard and drink harder.  It is no accident that Groundskeeper Willy from The Simpsons is Scottish.  Lots of schools call themselves “Trojans,” meaning Troy of Ancient Greece (but now modern day Turkey), and at least nine colleges have teams named “Spartans.”  There are the “Ragin’ Cajuns” of Lafayette, LA, but (a) no one thinks of “Cajun” as an actual demographic (even though it refers to Canadian exiles from Acadia) and (b) their mascot is a cayenne pepper, a staple of Cajun cooking.  For me, the most fascinating example I found is the well-known Rebel of UNLV, a clear reference to a Confederate soldier – an oddity being in Nevada of all places.

There are at least two stark distinctions between these team names and the use of Indian names: the former are either so archaic as to be relics (Ancient Greece) or were professions.  Being a soldier, whether under Robert E. Lee or Leif Ericson, was a job you did, one that involved fighting.  This could not be more different than a racial identity.

(Incidentally, why don’t we have more white names?  There are such low-hanging fruit possibilities!  The Catholic Crackers.  The Ruthless Lutherans.  The Rednecks.  The Honkies.  Better yet, why pull punches?  How about The Wiggas?  What white people parroting gangsta lifestyle is to pop culture, so to is a lacrosse team of white adolescent suburbanites embodying “chiefs” or “braves.”)

Back to pro sports, the Vancouver Canucks hockey team makes for an interesting case in point to consider, as “Canuck” is generally seen as a slang, but not so much an insult, conjuring something that calling Americans “Yanks” does.  Given that this is prim, proper, and politically correct British Columbia, it’s doubtful that Canuck is all that offensive.  (Here’s a historical curio too ridiculous to have made up: the Canucks were originally called the “Millionaires,” no kidding.)  Personally, I’m still waiting for Newfoundland to form an NHL team with the obvious mascot of a huge, lovable, slobbering “Newfie.”  Something like these two…

mascots Awesome-Newfie-Card

Just with hockey sticks in their mouths instead.

*

In his last book, Finnegans Wake, a just about unreadable tome of puns and made-up words, James Joyce wrote a character asking another “Who gave you that numb?”  What’s so brilliant about that little line is how many meanings it conveys: yes, he’s being cheeky about numb and name sounding so alike on the surface, but deep down there is a profound truth inside that sleight-of-tongue.  Names matter.  What you are named by someone else determines so much.  It frames the whole conversation, and, once established, it’s very difficult to think outside of that box.  As a poet once wrote, “To name you is/ to contain you, to maim/ You.”  It’s true: names maim and names numb.  Names hurt, they bruise – sometimes indelibly.  The word “Redskins” is a perfect example.  It’s a horrendous, demeaning name.  Is who you are someone whose skin is “red”?  Is that how you’re supposed to see yourself?  It’s at least how others see you, others who call the shots, who have the power.  “Fat” is another terrible example.  That’s all you are to the person calling you fat.  You’re not a person, not someone’s son or daughter, brother or sister; you’re not the person who loves sailing or riding horses; you’re not the person with a great sense of humor or who’s always there for a friend.  No, you’re fat, period.  Who gave you that numb?

At the heart of this controversy with school names/mascots in Wisconsin and anywhere is what might be called colonial nomenclature, a designation as “other” by a group of people in power demonstrating their power by a seemingly benign act of patronization – naming.  The very act of naming something according to poorly understood tenets or characteristics is the inherent differentiation between us and them.  We do not have teams called Italians or worse, Wops, for a reason, though it is a twisted reason: this land of ours was stolen – we all know that – and sometimes I think we rationalize our collective guilt over this by naming things after the vanquished.  Much as we euphemistically name a new subdivision “Deer Run Glen” or “Fox Meadows” – though surely after razing the landscape to make room for our bigger and beiger homes we have wiped out any habitat for actual deer or foxes – likewise, we internalize our guilt of committing genocide to an entire continent of peoples by ascribing atavistic warrior identities to those we conquered and then conjure those so-called attributes by way of sport teams.  Thus, defending the use of names like “Mukwonago Indians” is both spooky and perverted, sinister and sick.  We who are guilty of such crimes really want to flaunt that legacy?  Unlike those harmed by long-ago Vikings or Buccaneers (Somali pirates making a notable exception), the removal of Indians is still within living memory.  That numb has not healed.  Are we seriously such callous assholes?

(To be sure, it’s not just sports teams either: we have helicopters called Apache, Blackhawk, and Comanche, and cruise missiles called Tomahawk.  The Army’s first parachute regiment, the 501st Infantry Regiment, in 1941, incorporated the word “Geronimo” in its insignia – hence the exclamation “Geronimo!” when skydiving.  This was only 30-odd years after the man died.  More recently, Geronimo was invoked yet again as the codename operation to kill Osama bin Laden.  That’s a lot of currency for a guy who spent his life defending his people against the Mexicans and Americans only to die as a prisoner of war at a U.S. fort.)

Let me also say this: is there lurking in this debate the prospect of over-anxious white liberals high on the heels of P.C. reformation getting hot and bothered about topics that at best affect them indirectly – and in this instance in areas that are not where they live?  Undoubtedly.  But just how important is that?  Since when has the cause of civil rights required a membership card in order to be considered legitimate?  Should northerners not have boarded buses in the ‘60s on the grounds of southern regionalism?  Should wealthy reformers have minded their own business against the slums of tenement neighborhoods?  Of course these examples are different.  But it is a truism that permitting small amounts of discrimination fosters greater levels of acceptability based on stereotypical perception; exposure to one set of stereotypes, with its blessings of acceptance, fosters a culture of stereotyping other minority groups.  Here in Wisconsin 24 percent of K-12 students are non-white – that’s one out every four children.  What message are we sending them, are we exposing them to at such a young age, when it’s OK to think not inclusively but in race-based frames of thought?

The bottom line is this is such bad taste.  Yes, it’s offensive.  Yes, it’s racist.  It’s something that exists only thanks to the white privilege of being totally obliviousness.  Thinking otherwise is just naive.  This is not a “local” issue.  Such localities like Mukwonago need to evolve, and the so-called grownups in these communities need to do just and get a life beyond their own nostalgic high school days.  This is not only demeaning, offensive, and hurtful; it not only sends a message to the bands and tribes around Wisconsin that the dominant culture still sees you as Other; this is embarrassing.  And sad, for we might end up proving that it’s a lot easier to get rid of real Indians than made-up Indian mascots.

mascot 1

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6 responses to “What’s In a Name?

  1. Padre

    November 10, 2013 at 9:10 am

    Excellent! I particularly liked the Sherman fieries reference for Atlanta.

     
  2. Dennis

    November 11, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    This was wonderful. I loved it! Glad you are back again.

     
  3. General Custer Fluck

    November 12, 2013 at 11:06 am

    You sound like another Bitsy Warren Fauxcohantas telling everyone else what to think and do. Liberals are the biggest hypocrits ever.

     
  4. WestbyC

    March 24, 2014 at 9:01 am

    So if someone gives their opinion on their opinion blog, they are “telling everyone what to think and do?” In General Custer Fluck’s world no one questions the status quo and we don’t ask and don’t tell. Sounds wonderful if you are in to fascism.

     
    • Reynaldo Rivas

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      • Roxanne Dimacale

        May 15, 2016 at 2:56 am

        Hi Reynaldo, my work colleague worked with a template VA 21-4138 version at this site https://goo.gl/zrtU1H.

         

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