To the editor:
Not everyone at the Fort Loramie Board of Education meeting on July 20 spoke with respect, regardless of what was reported. Days prior to the BOE meeting, I sent an email to Superintendent Holland requesting to talk to the school board about starting a conversation regarding our school’s R*dsk*n mascot. There was no mention of me participating in a debate-style forum. Hours before the meeting, a series of social media posts circulated with this message attached:
“Apparently Someone has complained to the school that the Redskin name is racist. There is a meeting tonight at 7 at the school. If you are in favor of keeping the name, it is strongly suggested u attend this meeting. Dan Holland said that those for keeping the name should be at this meeting.”
The social media post (above) fed a series of comments that became a safe space to harass and engage in a strategy to ambush the meeting. A Fort Loramie elementary teacher and a Fort Loramie BOE member even added their own comments. Community members, students, alumni, and friends of friends witnessed the dark side of “Fort Loramie school pride” unfold through these comments. It was this dialogue that set the stage for me to talk to the BOE.
It’s clear that the school’s response to my inquiry to begin a conversation, was to silence my concerns. However, diverting this systemic problem by making it appear as if it can be solved with a popular opinion, does not address the facts of this problem. Since the article was published, residents of Fort Loramie and from the surrounding communities have reached out to me stating they also know that the mascot must be changed. The question is, when?
I love my community, and I want the best education possible for our students. Uncomfortable conversations need to happen – because we can do better. It’s time to acknowledge the dark history associated with Native American mascots, learn about the perpetual harm these mascots cause and take the needed steps to ensure a learning environment that does not discriminate against anyone – in any way. That time is now.