Board im­plored to change ‘Redskins’ nick­name

The Advance of Bucks County - - NEWTOWN AREA - By D. E. Sch­lat­ter

NESHAMINv--The push to change the ‘Redskins’ school name has again sur­faced in Neshaminy, with sev­eral res­i­dents cal­lLng Rn WhH sFhRRO ERDrd WR finDOOy FhRRsH D dif­fer­ent moniker for its sports teams and mas­cot.

“There is to­day no sin­gle word more offensive to In­dian peo­ple than the term ‘Red­skin,’” Donna Boyle of Park­land told the board at its sparsely-at­tended Nov. 13 work ses­sion.

Boyle, who has Ok­la­homa Chero­kee and Choctaw an­ces­try on her fa­ther’s side, pas­sion­ately ad­dressed the is­sue dur­ing the two pub­lic com­ment ses­sions, at times her voice was choked with emo­tion.

“I’m ask­ing for you to stop us­ing it,” she as­serted, “I looked at the his­tory of the football team and there were many other names that were used in the past. I’m sure WhDW WhHy FDn find D EHWWHr RnH WR usH WhDn ‘Redskins.’”

Boyle ex­plained that she was “ex­tremely un­com­fort­able” when she went to Neshaminy school events with her old­est son, who is now 31, and saw the walls and gyms em­bla­zoned with the logo.

“I got a 14 year-old son now and I would re­ally like to feel com­fort­able to go into the high school,” she main­tained. “It would be the same as putting the ‘N’ word all around the school and ex­pect­ing black fam­i­lies feel­ing com­fort­able com­ing in there.”

“It’s not fair, you wouldn’t put the ‘N’ word ev­ery­where,” she ve­he­mently added.

Boyle also noted that she doesn’t have to go to the school to see the offensive word be­cause it’s promi­nently printed on pam­phlets that her youngest son now brings home.

“’Red­skin, Red­skin, Red­skin,’” she read, “I don’t have to go to the school to see it, it comes in my house very day.”

Ac­cord­ing to Boyle, the ep­i­thet con­jures up the early-Amer­i­can legacy of bounty hunters bring­ing wagon loads of In­dian skulls and corpses to col­lect their pay­ment for erad­i­cat­ing tribes from their lands that the white set­tler had wanted.

“Lit­er­ally the bloody dead bod­ies were known as ‘Redskins,’” she ex­plained.

To bol­ster her point, she read from Neshaminy’s own pol­icy re­gard­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion and harass­ment. Among the pro­tected cat­e­gories cov­ered are na­tional ori­gin and an­ces­try.

Also pro­hib­ited are the use of ep­i­thets, deroga­tory or de­grad­ing com­ments and slurs.

Boyle said that the pol­icy also states that the school dis­trict must at­tempt to main­tain a learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment that is free of harass­ment, which in­cludes visual con­duct such as deroga­tory posters, car­toons and draw­ings.

“This is the last racism that’s al­lowed,” she stated.

Steve Ro­dos of Mid­dle­town Town­ship spoke in sup­port of Boyle, not­ing that she but­tressed her op­po­si­tion by cit­ing the dis­trict’s own guide­lines and that “proper con­sid­er­a­tion of her is­sues should be taken up by the board.”

“The fact that the Wash­ing­ton team in the NcL uses the name ‘Redskins’ is be­side the point since mostly ev­ery­thing out of Wash­ing­ton is dys­func­tional,” he in­ter­jected.

In the past, those op­pos­ing the Neshaminy name change cited the cost to the dis­trict, and also pointed to other schools and pro­fes­sional sports teams us­ing In­dian names, such as the Wash­ing­ton Redskins and At­lanta Braves base­ball team.

How­ever, Boyle ar­gued that the NcL team is paid for with ticket sales, “a pub­lic school is paid for with tax dol­lars and gov­ern­ment fund­ing.”

Mean­while, Al­mando Car­rasquillo, a re­tired state trooper from Mid­dle­town also con­curred with chang­ing the name.

“As a mi­nor­ity I’m sen­si­tive to the feel- ings about the name on the [Neshaminy] football team and it’s just not us­ing the ‘N’ word or us­ing any other word that might have an im­pact on the cul­tural diver­sity in our school to­day,” Car­rasquillo told the board.

“If you don’t want to take her word for it, then you write to the var­i­ous In­dian as­so­ci­a­tions to see how they feel to the use of that word,” he con­tended.

Al­though Car­rasquillo ac­knowl­edged that chang­ing the team name on jer­seys and other items would be a tremen­dous finDnFLDO undHrWDNLng IRr WhH dis­trict, “it’s a lot cheaper than deal­ing with a civil lib­er­ties law­suit.”

School board mem­bers dis­pas­sion­ately dur­ing com­ments, of­fer­ing no sponse. sat the re-

How­ever, just be­fore Tues­day’s 50-minute meet­ing ended, board chair­man Ritchie Webb did in­ter­ject an apol­ogy, telling Boyle that the board was not ig­nor­ing her.

“I know that over the last cou­ple of weeks you sent me a book re­port,” he said, ex­plain­ing that al­though he printed all the in­for­ma­tion, he had not yet had a chance to read it.

“I un­der­stand what you’re say­ing. We’ll get back to you we’re not ig­nor­ing you,” Webb con­tin­ued, blam­ing the de­lay on the loss of power dur­ing Hur­ri­cane Sandy.

“It’s been that way for 60 years,” he said of the school nick­name, “you got to give us a lit­tle time to look into it to see what our re­sponse is.”

Dur­ing her emo­tion­ally-charged pub­lic com­ments, Boyle had ex­claimed, “it just bog­gles my mind that racism is al­lowed in our schools.”

“This is some­thing I deal with ev­ery day, I dealt with this as a child, even worse ... ,W nHHds WR EH fi[Hd,” shH hDd sDLd hROdLng back tears.

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