by We’Ced Youth Media
Ed. Note: As the California legislative session draws to a close and Governor Jerry Brown decides which bills will receive his signature and which will go back to the drawing board, AB 30 aims to address the usage of controversial characters as school mascots. If signed, the California Racial Mascot Act would ban the use of “Redskin” as a school mascot name. Currently four high schools in California still use what many call a Native American slur as their school mascot. Three of the four high schools–Gustine, Tulare and Chowchilla–are located in the Central Valley.
After discussing the topic, We’Ced reporters weighed in on whether AB 30 should pass or not, thinking through the heavy weight of history found in words and whether or not a mascot can be just a mascot.
Cheyenne Chaddock, 17
I have Native American heritage in my genealogy and I see these mascot names as incredibly offensive. Something like the “N” word would never be used for a mascot name so why is the similar slur of “Redskins” allowed? I really support the bill because racial slurs should not be used in schools.
Stephanie Mancilla, 16
I support the decisions to change California school mascot names because it’s obviously offensive. Many of these schools who still have “Redskin” as mascot names have minimal Native American students attending. They might be intimidated but they should speak up. I can’t understand how they wouldn’t feel offended. I don’t really care that much about a school mascot so I don’t understand why it would be a big deal to change it.
Natalie Wright, 17
I support AB 30. The term “Redskins” is offensive and, like Alejo said, is officially defined as a racial slur. By keeping the name, schools are perpetuating racism towards Native Americans and on a more subtle level making discrimination seen as acceptable. I think it’s unacceptable, especially since these schools don’t have a large population of Native American students or community members that have any say.
Allie Lannerd, 14
I support this effort because referring to a mascot as a “Redskin” is a slur. It reminds me of black face in that it’s someone, in this case whole schools, using another culture as a costume and stereotype. Even if there is little Native American population it doesn’t mean the culture isn’t important or valuable. They are human, even if their culture isn’t as present it should still be respected. I hope someday people will start realizing how some of our so-called traditions are actually rooted in harsh and disrespectful assumptions around culture, race and gender.
Alice Evergreen, 17
I have mixed feelings about AB 30, the bill to change mascot names. I feel like people shouldn’t be offended about mascots because I don’t see a school purposefully slurring a race. But at the same time, I see how it can be misinterpreted. I think it can actually be a good way to make people know about Native Americans so their memory won’t die out so quick.
Cassidy Trindade, 16
I don’t support AB 30. These names have been the school’s mascot for so long, it’s going to be a huge argument and people won’t like it and the school spirit will suffer. It’s hard to know whether the school and students are admiring what their mascot is based on. I don’t think they’re making fun of Native Americans.
I personally don’t think anything of the name “Redskins” because I can see it as just a school mascot name. Again, I don’t think the schools and students are trying to be rude and mean.
Daniela Ceja, 18
I agree with the bill because the origins of mascot names like “Redskins” are insulting, offensive and even oppressive. Racial slurs are never ok in schools or professional institutions so why the double standard?
Alexander Salas, 17
I support the change because the name “Redskin” is offensive. It’s disrespectful to Native Americans to have high schools using sacred relics and special items like headdresses for purposes other than what they’re intended for. I think most students don’t know what “Redskin” actually means, which is not good. Students and community should know the ugly history behind that name and realize why it should be changed.
Asher Pan, 18
The name “Redskins” is racist, flat out. Schools using it as a mascot name is no different than a school using “wetbacks” as a mascot name. If you’re Latino, it probably didn’t feel good to read that, did it? Just because it doesn’t affect the people running the school because they’re not Native American mean it isn’t important enough to change.
Christopher Rodriguez-Lomeli, 17
I think the schools should change their name. I can see how it’s offensive to Native Americans, especially in how they wear things that hold a spiritual or religious significance to Native Americans. I think it’s not right for people who are not Native Americans to use that name, it’s a slur.
Cassandra Avitia, 17
Being racist is not right. I support AB 30. If the name wasn’t “Redskin” but instead a Mexican stereotype, none of these California schools could stand by the name. I know I would be offended. I think that schools with names like “Redskin” need to face the racist history behind their names and change them. I believe in equality and being racist doesn’t fit into that.