Board implored to change ‘Redskins’ nickname
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.