Racism, bullying, and awkward haircuts. All happening right now at my high school and they need our help.

Guys. This is me in high school.

hs junior

plus a jazzy background.

It was 1998. I was a junior. Britney Spears was skinny. I had a perfectly perfect chin length bob that doubled as a face helmet. I had a steady boyfriend. I had 3 best friends who would sing Spice Girl’s lyrics with me at lunch. I was in choir, the History Club (for the free trip), and the school newspaper. I wasn’t a nerd but I wasn’t the coolest of the cool. I was insecure and just trying to blend in. Just like the rest of high school dopes. All just trying to get by in one piece.

Now it is 2013 and my high school is still standing and educating girls in bra tops and boys in whatever boys wear, while everyone learns via robot teachers and laser beams that shoot knowledge into student’s heads. I’m pretty sure that’s what happens in high schools now. But something else is different too…

You may have heard my high school’s name in the past week or so. It’s been in the NY Times, Huffington Post and even on ESPN. They are talking about a hot button that has been discussed for years and years and years. And finally, a group of brave kids wanted to do something about it.

Here is the cover of that yearbook from 1998.

hs yearbook

What’s wrong with this picture? I bet a lot of you will say nothing. We’ve sort of been taught after 100 million Thanksgivings and Halloweens that nothing IS wrong with this. But what if it was a different picture and it said Blackskin? Or Yellowskin? Would you see something wrong then?

The word “Neshaminy” refers to a Native American tribe that resided where I grew up. There is a mall named after them too. And as long as the school has been there, they have been the Neshaminy Redskins. Just a brief history lesson (I learned it in History Club….please) the term “Redskin” is what us whities called Native Americans because of the paint that they would use on their faces. It’s derogatory. Plain and simple. No matter how you use it. For example, “that Redskin is sooo awesome!” Still derogatory. It’s objectifying a group of people.

Well, the editors at the Neshaminy school newspaper, The Playwickian, decided that they weren’t going to publish the word “Redskin” anymore in the print of the actual paper. Instead, they would just refer to the football team and other school teams as “Neshaminy.” They wrote this piece stating why. And it was brave. Because they knew there would be backlash. But they just didn’t know how much.

After they made this decision, the principal of the school declared that they MUST print the word “Redskin”. That they actually are not “allowed” to NOT print the word. Um, what? The principal doesn’t feel that Redskin is a racist term in any way and is shoving their first amendment rights up his racist principal butt. And hence we have a huge hot debate going on within the school and now the state and the country and also the universe.

Does this totally sound like a weird episode of Glee or is it just me? Granted, that’s my only exposure to any high school anymore, but come on. A racisty squirly principal telling a bunch of kids, who are standing up for what they  believe in, that the school will take away their bus for their trip to nationals followed by a rendition of Don’t Stop Believing??? I  mean…. You get it.

But it hasn’t ended here. The kids at school who made this decision are being bullied. Football players are ripping copies of the paper in their faces. Grown ass adults are attacking them on Twitter. And to top it off, a full page ad in the school newspaper was taken out by the class of 1972 saying some bullshit about school, tradition and “GO SKINS”. Just to pretty much tell the kids to shove it. And no one is helping these kids.

Really?

REALLY?

These kids aren’t trying to take away a school mascot (although they SHOULD. Or someone should.). They just don’t want to print the word in the paper. National papers have done the same with the Washington Redskins. But we’re not talking about a team with billion dollar merchandising deals. We’re talking about a high school mascot. Do you really give a shit if the mascot changes to the Neshaminy Tigers, or the Neshaminy Squirrels or the Neshaminy Racists? Wait that last one would be offensive. And we wouldn’t want to project to the world that the high school is racist, WOULD WE?

So after a big open forum and meeting at the school with the administration and the students, an agreement was not reached and now it’s going to the school board. These kids are standing up for what they believe in and they aren’t getting any real support.

Well I want them to know that a little insecure junior girl from 1998 supports them. In 1998 I wrote some weird weird shit for the paper. Most of it was never published because they would look at me like, “what is wrong with her? We can’t publish a hate piece on Winnie the Pooh. That’s weird” But sometimes my weird stuff was published. And that was exciting….seeing your words written for everyone to read.

And here we are in 2013 and I make my living writing weird shit for everyone to read. Thank you Neshaminy and thank you Playwickian.

I hope that you will support these editors like I do. It takes guts to work for the school newspaper and do things that others don’t like. Just like AHndreAH Zuckerman and Brandon Walsh did

You may be reading this and still disagree with me. You may think that the term Redskin isn’t offensive. You may think that tradition is more important. You may have some argument about football and recognition and team spirit.

None of that is as important as respect. And the Native Americans deserve it. And so do the editors of this school paper.

I want this to get as much attention as possible. What this principal and these administrators are doing is wrong. For those of you who do agree with me, I need you in full force attention getting mode.

I want you to tweet/facebook/instagram/whateverthehellyoudo with the hashtags #theRword and tag @theplaywickian. You can follow them on twitter and give them encouragement here.  

Write to the school board. Tell them they are shitheads. Don’t use those words. You know how to act.

And I’ll leave you with this.

This openly gay Neshaminy student posted this and was voted class president.  And I’ll be voting him president of the world.

 

Go Neshaminy.

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

POSTED IN: MODG,Not Pleased,You think you know but you have no idea

{ 32 comments }

Yasmine November 23, 2013 at 1:53 pm

You can easily tell there is a clear disconnect between the student body and the administration. As a high school teacher, I get chills whenever students stand up for what they believe in. We are taught from early on we can’t do anything about it if our imposed authority figures take a stance against you. Good for them for stating and promoting their positions in a peaceful and productive manner. They posed wonderful points about privilege in the article and how those not even questioning the harm a mascot like this can create is in itself problematic. This is important. I hope the mascot will be changed for everyone’s sake.

Ashley November 23, 2013 at 2:24 pm

I wonder what would have happened if they just chose to stop without writing the editorial. And then months later wrote why they had stopped.

Kim November 23, 2013 at 2:35 pm

This IS crazy. When I initially heard about this on the news I thought it was really no big deal and why shouldn’t the term Redskin be used? After reading this, and see the video, I have a much different feeling. What if they had just quietly stopped using the word? Would anybody have noticed? Cared? Why are so many people tied to that word so strongly – as in former students and the principal? What if it were ‘blackskins’? Then I watched the video and my head exploded. I don’t know if I can explain it accurately, but I’ll try. An openly gay student was elected president – in the very same school were Redskin is ok. Shall we suggest a change to “homoskin’? or ‘gayskin’? Because if ‘Redskin’ ISN’T derogatory, then surely those terms aren’t as well. I’m so confused. In a society where being gay is not only accepted but often forced upon us to ACCEPT it damnit, how can NOT being racist be NOT acceptable? I’m so confused. I hope this didn’t come off wrong . . . I can hardly get my head around it.

Erin November 23, 2013 at 2:53 pm

I’m shocked bc in 1994–so 20 years ago-my high school changed their name and mascot from Braves (with a Native American mascot) to Blaze (with a weird fire mascot). Yes-it was a bit controversial and some ppl were upset, but it happened and we were all fine. TWENTY years ago! I just assumed everyone got rid of their racist mascots at the same time.

Sara November 25, 2013 at 11:13 am

Same thing in my town. We had a high school with the mascot, Rebels. They changed it to the Raiders. It was a little bit of a big deal….but nothing like this.
I can honestly say though that I’ve never thought anything racist when I think of a Rebel. Even though I know it may be offensive to some. I can also say I’ve never thought anything racist when I hear Redskin. It just doesn’t resonate with me that way. I can totally see how it would though if I was a Native American. We have a small, small town called White Settlement and everyone is up in arms about how it’s racist. Never once in my entire life have I ever thought the name had anything to do with race. Never. It’s just not something that ever even crossed my mind. Sometimes I think we’re a little out of control on always playing the race card. Sometimes it’s needed. Sometimes it’s overkill.
The Redskins mascot needs to go though. High school and NFL.

Krista November 23, 2013 at 3:27 pm

I went to Haverford. Our mascot was (and still is) a Model-T Ford. A car. The mascot matters so little and the war people wage to keep a racist name just shows their true colors.

Michele November 23, 2013 at 3:58 pm

I could not agree more. Thank you for rallying support for these kids, who are simply making a quiet and respectful statement against racism and do not deserve this bullying response. I am happy to add my voice of support. As someone who has lived in DC for 24 years listening to the endless Redskins debate and who currently has a child in high school, I think these issues you’ve addressed (racism and bullying — by ADULTS, no less!) are no brainers. I admire you for risking a comment war on your blog to stand on these principles. Mad respect! Also, that video was amazing … president of the world indeed.

Tera November 23, 2013 at 3:59 pm

You do realize that your blog has an “Asian” tab? I absolutely applaud you for getting the word out there about supporting the brave kids at your alma-mater, but I also have to point out the fact that your blog has an incredibly racially insensitive header for the sake of a laugh.

Katie November 23, 2013 at 11:11 pm

That is a fair observation- however, the word “Asian” is no more racist than the word “Russian” or “French.” Redskin is an inherently racist word. And hopefully, if something on this page felt offensive, people would discuss or disagree respectfully and not attack or bully each other. Content of this page is also completely representative of MODG and only MODG, and a high school represents a community, children, and local government and is paid for by tax payers. There is a difference in standards.

Ashley November 23, 2013 at 11:51 pm

Actually, the interwebs deemed her Asian. (http://www.modgblog.com/2010/02/01/why-i-wont-be-on-next-season-of-the-jersey-shore/)
Technically speaking the internet was the racist here…..

Desiree November 24, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Internet or not, take a quick look at the icon.

When talking about loaded subjects like racial sensitivity, it’s wise to double check and make sure the image is consistent with the message in order to preserve credibility.

Karena November 26, 2013 at 6:44 pm

Totally NOT the same thing. Asian is not a racist term. Neither is Mexican, African, Pacific Islander, whatever. It’s not racist. Redskin IS. It’s derogatory. It’s like the difference between gay (not a derogatory name, just factual) and f*g. Which is a hateful word. Asian: not a hateful word.

Leigh November 26, 2013 at 11:49 pm

The point commenters are making here is about context. The way “Asian” is used on this blog, for laughs, with a questionable cartoonish drawing to accompany the word, is offensive. It is dehumanizing in this context, using another ethnic identity for jokes and fun, even if it seems harmless in spirit, because MODG is trying to do it in a playful way. We don’t get to appropriate one another’s identities for our own amusement. Technically Asian is a neutral descriptor, but not the way it is used here. Context matters.

Kallie December 11, 2013 at 3:03 am

I agree. I realize MODG’s Asian obsession is probably based in admiration and affection, but it has always struck me as also being trivializing.

Olivia November 23, 2013 at 5:00 pm

Good for you. Great to see people calling out racism. Thank you, MODG.

Nicole Chaney November 23, 2013 at 8:35 pm

Amanda!!! Thank you so much!! Also, if you want to tweet stalk the principal it’s @neshaminyHS

Lauren November 24, 2013 at 12:06 am

I went to Westwood where we were the Warriors, also a rendition to the Native Americans of Arizona. Our mascot was seriously a white guy in Native American garb… Now THAT was offensive. And he was Mormon which made it even weirder. Anyway, they have more recently gotten smart and realized oh heyyyy it’s SUPER wrong for a white guy to pretend to be Native American and parade around in this real feather hat (probably the wrong terminology, I’m no expert) and have since changed the mascot to a War Eagle. Good job guys!

Katy November 24, 2013 at 10:15 am

Very well put. You were not the nicest person (to me) in high school. I’m glad to see you’ve grown into a well-written, smart, sensitive lady.

Oh, and your blog is amaze-balls funny. Well done.

MODG November 24, 2013 at 11:41 am

I’m sorry you felt that way Katy. I know the feeling as many weren’t nice to me in high school and most of those people are still not nice people. Everyone was a jerk to someone in high school. And everyone feels scorned by someone in high school too. High school is the worst. At least we usually grow up. I hope you are well!

MODG November 24, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Katy…My response wasn’t acceptable. It’s all I’ve been thinking about today. I am truly sorry for hurting your feelings in anyway in high school. I was a bitch. And it was me covering up for my own insecurities. As a mother now, I hope that my kids are better than I was. And I hope my asshole-ness only made you a stronger better person. Thanks for commenting and reading and being a better person than I ever would have been.

Hanieh November 24, 2013 at 2:50 pm

I’m so glad this post popped up on my FB newsfeed today. I love, love, love this post. I was listening to Democracy Now yesterday at the gym and they did a piece on the controversy about the Washington Redskins. I got all worked up about it. I totally and completely agree with you. I hate when a minority group says, “This is offensive” and then the majority group says, “No, it isn’t.” It’s so wrong, and we are speaking for other people and *telling* them what they should or should not be offended by. But beyond all that, the type of bullying that is happening at this school is completely unacceptable.

And, also, I love this exchange. High school was a miserable time for me… I was the nerdiest of the nerdy. Kudos to both of you :)

leslie November 26, 2013 at 7:43 pm

I am so lame, but your second response here actually made me tear up. thank you for being so gracious when it’s so easy to just circle the wagons in defensiveness when we get called out. it’s encouraging to me to see. and thank you for this post… I live in Oklahoma and one of our local high schools has the same mascot. It really makes me sad.

Nina December 3, 2013 at 5:58 pm

Love this exchange too. We all go through phases, positive phases and negative phases that affect us and others. The awesome part about learning and growing is that each phase shapes us how we let them! Cheers to being a better person and a stronger person!

My favorite quote/poem – Two roads diverged in a yellowed wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. :)

Katy December 4, 2013 at 11:25 pm

I loved both of your responses and completely agree. No judgment, we all have the capacity to hurt others. It’s what we do with that knowledge that matters, no?

What are you doing with that knowledge? Paying it forward, writing a smart blog, raising the next generation of smart, kind people, and using your writing to help others (WANA 3.0, hello?!)

It’s inspiring. I hope when I’m approached by someone I wasn’t very nice to in high school or middle school, that I display as much class as you have.

Keep being damn awesome. Aaaaand, now I have a new blog to stalk. Thanks.

Leah November 24, 2013 at 10:39 am

We were the Indians at my high school until the year after I graduated. These kids are awesome, I hope they have this kind of gumption going forward in their lives.

Leanne November 24, 2013 at 8:25 pm

I was not nearly this brave as a high school student. I am probably not this brave as a 31 year old. Way to go, neshaminy! Also, I went to pennsbury. :)

Vanessa November 25, 2013 at 9:33 am

I agree the name is offensive and should be changed! But, when they change their name hopefully they decide to keep it normal. Heres to hoping they don’t decide on names/mascots like these schools: Hoopeston Cornjerkers in Illinois, the Teutopolis Wooden Shoes also in Illinois, the wonderfully offensive Butternut Midgets in Wisconsin, my favorite, the New Braunfels Unicorns (omg it would be awesome to be a cheerleader there, I’ve always wanted to scream “Goooo Unicorns!!!!!”) , and last but not least another offense name Point Pleasant Big Blacks in West Virginia.

Yeah. Hopefully they’ll avoid soliciting naming advice from the people that named those schools. Except for the unicorn guys, those guys are awesome.

leslie November 26, 2013 at 7:44 pm

my rival high school’s mascot was the Kewpie. true story. horrible mascot.

Chrissy November 27, 2013 at 11:15 pm

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you’re from Columbia, MO, and that rival high school was Hickman High. Dear Lord, don’t let there be more than one school with that mascot. Creepy as hell.

marcia November 25, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Yes to all of what you said. But mostly I want to comment on how incredibly awesome that kid’s video is. Is your mind as blown as mine that he pretty much made an exact copy of what was probably a very expensive music video? What in the world will our toddler kids be doing with technology 14 years from now? cray cray.

Toni November 28, 2013 at 4:50 pm

I have to say, I do find it amusing that you have a post up about bullying when a few years ago while pregnant with your first kid you were nominated for a blog award. You were up against a lovely blogger who happened to be pregnant and religious and you mocked her and linked her blog to yours and basically told people to go and laugh at her. She ended up winning and still copped it from you. Tolerance goes both ways does it not?

Barbara December 2, 2013 at 8:54 am

Although it looked quite shocking that, the school authorities sticked with the name which is quite controversial but it is clear that they did not have any bad intention after all. But “ignorance” could not be an excuse. And it was merciless.

Previous post:

Next post: