Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Some Other Cultures Schools Could Honor

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Some Other Cultures Schools Could Honor

Article excerpt

Next time a local high school needs a sports-team name, mascot and logo to promote the all-important school spirit, I have fun suggestions.

How about the Africans? Or the Europeans? Or the Jews?

Pick whatever logo you like for each. But it really should include a stern faced man, to make it as close as possible to the popular and much-defended logo for the Venice High Indians.

Venice High's logo is a scowling man in a feathered headdress, a standard image we learned -- from old movies and TV shows -- to associate with all Indians.

So we could get the same charming and fun effect with a logo of an angry, barely dressed black man with a spear, an ideal image for the Africans. The Jews could have an angry holocaust resistor shaking a fist. The Europeans could use a stern-looking, old-timey Italian Pope.

Some members of this or that race or ethnic background will insist it is off-the-wall to name a school after such a thing, especially if the school has only a few members of that group. Those critics will say it is weirder still to represent a race with one cartoonish, stereotyped image. But no worries about that. Just insist it is an honor for their race to have people pretending to be them!

If you are a white Christian, just explain that you love dressing up and acting like a Jew or an African, and that doing so is a show of respect.

A white guy in blackface with a spear will be a hoot at the pep rallies. Likewise with a student in a Pope costume doing fake rituals with a cross and some grape juice while dancing with cheerleaders. Who could take offense?

Sure, some will grumble that Europeans aren't all Catholic, and real Catholics may not appreciate that non-Catholic kids are being taught to laugh at a bogus Eucharist ceremony conducted by a spoofing guy in a huge pointy hat decorated in school colors. But who cares about complaints from politically correct party poopers claiming they are offended?

Be prepared though. Such sticklers have no sense of humor. They will also gripe when opposing fans, having their own school spirit fun, hoist banners that say "Send the Jews back to the ghettos!" You know, as when schools named "Indians" inspire clever banners saying "Scalp the Injuns" and "Send'um redskins back to reservation!"

Some fun. I have other name ideas. It would also be great for a student body on game night to pretend to be Mormons, Cubanos, Chinamen, or Poles, or Arabs. Got a favorite race or culture or religion?

Anyone not getting my ironic point probably doesn't want to, but here it is: Like it or not, Venice High alums should not scoff at or dismiss the notion that its name and logo and associated customs have always subtly promoted stupid, misleading and racist notions about Indians. That the mascot still thrives there implies that Indians can be spoofed because they are relics of the past, not real people living today. …

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