To the Editor:
The Connecticut Shoreline has a racism problem.
The Guilford High School adores its traditions and relationship with our town history. But a certain idealistic act of commemoration no longer serves the purpose it was intended for: the mascot. “The Guilford Indians” has been the target of calls for change in many recent years, and the divide it creates within the community is distressing.
The town has a historical relationship with local indigenous tribes, and there is a sense of connection between the mascot and those deep-rooted residents. But the way that the conversation has manifested is disheartening.
Student-led groups had created organized movements, structured plans, and well-researched concepts to bring to the board of education. But for countless years, the response has been the same: if the community doesn’t support the change, the board of education can’t.
But why is it so hard for the community to support it? Local tribes, including the Mohegans and Pequot tribes, have announced they don’t support the mascot. The Association of Native Americans at Yale (ANAAY) even sent us a testimony, “[urging] all schools and organizations ends the use of Native American mascot and rhetoric.”
The voices of those most affected by racist mascots are being ignored within predominantly white communities. The pleas of “ignoring emotional connection to the name,” “too politically correct” or simply “not racist” provide justification for the fundamentally disparaging concept. A name that, whether students want to or not, has to be carried with them around the state, without even a historical context.
Having the name doesn’t ensure education about the town’s history, leaving many students to represent the name without even a basic understanding of what our mascot or moniker shows. In essence, the mascot sets a precedent for racist behavior that fosters a climate of ignorance that no longer belongs in the classroom.
Julia Schroers, student at Guilford High School
Ella Beesely, student at Guilford High School