Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Mighty Mighty Arabs

I have become invested in mascot name changes for a while now. I've posted about this before a few times, mostly in reference to The Washington Football Team. Recently, a high school in upstate New York has decided to change their 68 year old Redskins name to the Legends (apparently, a legend is a Knight). 

Good for them. It's always nice to see a group of people choose to do the right thing, even though moving away from tradition is difficult. Al Jazeera reported on this in their article here. An eighth grade girl chose the new logo and name and unveiled her winning designs at a town meeting. 

Of course there are opponents of the name change. Nothing is ever easy, apparently. And of course these people oppose the new mascot for the same old and tired reasons. Why should they turn their backs on 68 years of tradition? They apparently had no problems turning their backs quite literally on the 13 year old designer during the town meeting. The president of the town council was interviewed by local television and expressed his disappointment with these people. The news coverage is below. 

Apparently these proud Lancaster people who just want to hold on to their heritage turned the meeting into an ugly display, as reported by the Buffalo News. Some of them thought it appropriate to yell "Heil Hitler", which I don't understand. Are they being supportive of Nazis, or calling the council Nazis? Either way I don't get it. Nazis were all about using offensive and demeaning iconography, but why would you want to bring that up? It doesn't help your argument. And calling the council Nazis makes no sense. They are changing the mascot to be more inclusive and neutral, not because they are fascists who believe in a super race.  

In other name changing news, my favorite "accidentally racist" mascot received a makeover the other day. Coachella Valley has officially changed their name from the Arabs to the Mighty Arabs, and updated their logo from cartoonishly offensive to slightly more dignified. Al Jazeera reported about this too. The logo has been replaced, and the mascot and similar iconography removed. However, it's a pity they will no longer be belly dancing on sidelines. 

As an aside, the State of California has declared the Redskins mascot to be banned in the state as of 2017. I'm sure opponents of this are declaring that their state is targeting the four schools in the entire state that use the mascot. But... that's exactly what's going on. 

The superintendent of Coachella Valley said something truly important about his mascot change, something that opponents don't seem to realize or care about. He said the decision was easy for his school district because communities need to "forever keep our eyes, ears, and hearts open to the feelings of others even when no disrespect or harm is intended."

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