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.
- 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 NewberrryIndians.com 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.