I can remember exactly one time the Social Circle Board of Education addressed the potential controversy of the nickname of its high school, the Redskins.
A woman from outside of the city wrote a letter to the board complaining of the potential racist underpinnings of the mascot and asking the board consider changing it.
The board chairman read the letter at one of the board’s monthly board meetings. And then, once this sincere appeal to the city’s decency and respect for all human beings was finished, they laughed.
Yes, they laughed.
They, of course, never took the idea seriously at all that maybe, just maybe, it’s not a good look to call your sporting teams the same thing as a longtime slur for an entire persecuted racial group that has received a heap of misery from our nation for the last few hundred years.
Why would they? It’s tradition, after all, and nothing is more important in sports, especially all-sacred football in the South, than tradition.
History has a way of catching up with one when they’re not looking, though, and the term “Redskins” is back in the public eye.
For a long time, any team with the name could hide under the shadow of the NFL team with the same designation, the Washington Redskins.
But now, faced with a potential staggeringly expensive revolt from sponsors and advertisers, the NFL squad is finally looking to change its name.
Turns out money speaks louder than tradition, even in football.
This is leading to other schools all across the nation considering their own names. Other Redskins are changing their names, as are teams called Indians and other logos involving indigenous peoples.
Some will survive. The Seminoles aren’t going anywhere, given their official tribal approval, as will other similar teams like the Utah Utes. The Braves, with their one-step removed name, may last quite a while depending on how the wind blows.
But Redskins, in most places at least, is on the way out, and good riddance.
But will Social Circle follow suit? Your guess is as good as mine.
There’s no good reason to use the name Redskins in 2020, when you’d think we’d know better than to use racial slurs in such a way. Is it traditional? Yes, but some traditions must die to make a better world.
There are bigger fights than a football team name, but little gestures add up to a lot in the long run.
I hope Social Circle can see their way to that future, eventually.