Newberry College + racism

Newberry College Rowdy Reds racist imagery against Native Americans

Newberry College was recently forced by the NCAA to “retire the use of ‘Indians’ as the school’s athletic nickname, effective with the end of all team’s current playing seasons.”

It’s appalling to me that the Newberry College press release uses “retire” to describe the termination of their racist nickname. Newberry College should have gotten rid of their nickname a long time ago. I decided to write them a letter:

    Dear Newberry College,
    It is time to remove your nickname, do not retire it, delete it. Listen and learn, using Native American imagery/names, unless tacitly approved by a Native Nation, is racist and harmful.

    Please disband the “Indian Club” and the “Rowdy Reds.” Stop using arrowheads and spears as derogatory accessories to your racist nickname.

    In 2005, you “appealed to be removed from the list of schools which were declared unable to host postseason play on the basis that none of the [your] uses of ‘Indians’ were hostile and/or abusive toward Native Americans.” How exactly did you determine this? Less than 1% of your total enrollment identifies as Native American. How does a predominantly white institution defend the racist usage of Native American imagery/words? Did you just say that it was okay because you said so?

    Perhaps you didn’t notice the numerous uses of arrowheads and spears on the website? Or the predominantly displayed phrase “Fear the Spear!” on the header of the site. Maybe you thought it was okay to stereotype Native peoples. Guess what? It’s not.

    It is not okay to portray Native peoples as savages or to dress up in redface. When did you cease to think of Native Americans as people. When did you decide that it was okay to use Native imagery to sell your school, your athletic programs, and practically everything on your bookstore website.

    Listen and learn. Your nickname should not have been retired. It should have been terminated. Do not defend racism or racist actions. Listen to Native people and their allies. Learn from history and dispose of archaic and hurtful imagery.

  • Eric,
    I follow your postings and read this a little while back when you first posted it. It reminded me again of Stephanie Fryberg’s psychological research on mascots and the APA’s 2005 call to retire these racist public rituals. My essay that touches on this recent history is here: If we poison our children with hatred.
    Thanks for sharing your writing on the other site. I was getting lonely again…

  • Kara

    I don’t think Newberry was forced to remove the Indians name and logo. They decided to remove it and the only reason was to be able to host playoff events. I am a proud Newberry graduate and I will always be an Indian! There is nothing wrong with the name or the logo. If people decide to take it and use it in an ugly manner, then yes, that should be corrected. As for the rest of us, we just enjoy our college, the Indians, and getting together. You are entitled to your opinion as I am to mine. But again, I do not believe that anyone was forced, and most graduates disagree with the removal.

  • David

    Im a Chippewa native that lives on reservation in Canada. When i read such comments as the one of Kara’s I can’t help but to feel sorry for shallowness that has been embedded in the hearts of the young people in America. Im really happy you are proud wannabe indian but watching you people act like idiots with this idea that we as Indians act like this is just a demonstration on how low of a education standard that America has for folks like Kara. What really scares me is the lack of compassion that people like Kara has for people in general. The people of the world from my experiences and travels see this as a society raised without morals and you can’t really deny it when you look like a bunch idiots. Not all people in America feel this way, but its hard see past the line of clowns. Your right Kara you weren’t forced to remove the logo, geez that might insist you caved in to public pressure or maybe had a heart. But instead “like all the other things that motivate America to take actions” the money was the reason. I don’t care if we agree but if i had a choice to do business in your country or area I would look at the way you treat each other. Believe me when i say actions of a few can carry a ton of weight. They should teach you that, at what college was that again? I hope Obama wins your country needs it.

  • @Kara – Newberry College would never have eliminated their mascot if the NCAA had not threatened to sanction them. This is from the Newberry College news release on the matter: “[The] National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)…deemed the use of “Indians” as hostile and abusive, and prohibited the use of Native American nicknames, mascots and imagery in postseason competition. ” Newberry College did not voluntarily get rid of their racist mascot. Unfortunately, Newberry College officials never seemed to fully comprehend how the use of “Indians” was unjust and abusive.

    Most graduates “disagree with the removal”…I’m quite certain that you have not interacted with most graduates of Newberry College. If Newberry College had eliminated its racist caricature and use of Native Americans and then educated its student body as to why it was done, then I firmly believe that Newberry graduates would be in complete support of the ending of the mascot.

    @David – thanks for commenting.

  • Fred Brathe

    Total over sensitivity to mascots that are supposed be positive and encourage school spirit.
    Our society shouldn’t be so serious over nothing. How about a little more humor.


    Fred Brathe (a Kraut who was born in Krautland)

  • John

    I understand how some people feel as if thier heritage has been mocked, but have you ever been a newberry student, have u ever participated in the athletics and school spirit that overflows the playing fields? Newberry as been the indians since my dad went their in 1976, and i think it’s rediculous and i feel sorry for people who have so much time on thier hands and don’t have a life that they can redicule such a respected Institution of
    Education & Athletics. . . as of the spear and arrow head symbols. They are not a symbot of a savage people. they are a fearful symbol of the native americans who were strong and fearful warriors to europeans. My family is of a small portion of cherokee decent, and I’m honestly proud of a school to choose such a mascot to represent a fearful and timid team.

  • John

    As of the student spirit club . . . . “Rowdy Reds.” It was not named that as a discriminating term towards the native american people. I headed up the “Rowdy Reds”, and we chose the name after the NCAA was pressureing us to “RETIRE” the indians. So we named the Club after our Primary Colors, RED and GRAY. If that isn’t racist! So before you put down a school that was trying to cooperate with the NCAA and Native Americans, get your facts straight. We went through so many names, and we tried not to have affiliation with the native americans, and we came up with the “Rowdy Reds” b/c as for now! since we had to “RETIRE” the indians. We don’t have a mascot, and can only rely on our colors. RED and GRAY!