Don't S.O.S. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


     My former high school in suburban Ohio pridesitself on having zero tolerance for racism. But does it really? Theadministration and faculty seem to think they know blatant racism, but what aboutthe subtle type that happens every day? The school's team name and logo, theRedskins, is evidence of their lack of sensitivity toward the Native Americancommunity.

In my two years at this school, I observed many subtle racistactions regarding the Redskin name. Banners reading "Let's scalp them"were hung on the walls before sporting events. The human mascot (an Indian with atomahawk) at football games would walk along the sideline, haranguing andpretending to scalp the other team's cheerleaders. My family and I were horrifiedat these not only politically incorrect, but also racist, actions.

Manystudents and staff have no problem with this offensive name, even aftercomplaints were aired by several Native American organizations. One man told theschool board, "We are viewed as a baseball team [and] a basketball team ...I ask you to give some dignity back to the American Indian people."

In response, this closed-minded community formed acommittee called "S.O.S. - Save Our Skins." Most of the studentsassociate the nickname with school traditions. "Why should we change thename of our school just because it offends someone?" one sophomore askedduring a heated class argument.

No one seemed to care about the NativeAmericans' perspective.

When a sports reporter wrote an editorial aboutthe refusal of the school to change its name, he referred to the supporters as"Blockheads." People became incensed at his label and could notunderstand the analogy.

After reading the editorial, my mother took theopportunity to inform the principal of the mascot's embarrassing antics atfootball games. He replied, "And you think that's racism?" He tried toexplain to her that we should revere the Redskin name as noble and strong."This is the reason," he explained "that we took the name."Apparently he didn't know the term "Redskin" is a Dutch name given tothe scalps of American Indians killed for bounties. If the name"Blockhead" angered residents of this town, then the name"Redskin" surely offends Native Americans.

After much heateddebate, and knowing that the Native American community finds it offensive, theschool board decided to keep the name Redskins. Racism comes in many forms, andretaining the offensive nickname exemplifies the insensitivity toward those ofanother culture.



This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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