Our Opinion: No statewide ban of local schools' logos, mascots

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A bill calling for a statewide ban of Native American mascots in schools is a solution to a problem that doesn't exist in the state with the possible exception of one school.

Passage would affect two Berkshire County high schools, the Taconic Braves and the Wahconah Warriors (Eagle, June 6. Both schools are represented by a Native American man wearing a headdress. The terms "Braves" and "Warriors" are common nicknames throughout the nation that have essentially become generic over the decades. The Golden State Warriors, who were pursuing an NBA championship Friday night, have played in the liberal and presumably political correct Bay Area for decades with only occasional protests, none that have taken hold. That nickname goes back to the days when the team played in Philadelphia.

The bill was filed in the state Senate on behalf of two residents of Tewksbury where the high school team and mascot are called the Redmen. Like the NFL's Washington Redskins, Redmen is an unfortunate nickname because it is based on skin color, a hot button issue in the United States. The Cleveland Indians' nickname has attracted occasional criticism over the years but it is the baseball team's grinning Chief Wahoo logo that Native Americans and others find most offensive. Team management earlier this year said it was "transitioning away" from the logo, and the sooner the better.

Governor Baker said earlier this week that no one should use a mascot "in a derogatory sense" and neither mascot or logo at Taconic and Wahconah Regional mock Native Americans and their culture. Both the governor and state Senate President Stanley Rosenberg maintain that the issue should be settled locally. We agree. If Tewksbury residents don't approve of the high school team's nickname and mascot — and there is good reason for that opposition — they should talk to school officials about finding a more appropriate school symbol.

If there is a groundswell of opposition in Pittsfield and/or the Central Berkshire Regional School district to the Braves' and Warriors' mascots, that issue should also be addressed at the local level as well. But a statewide ban on Native American mascots in response to an issue at one school is overkill and the bill should be withdrawn from the Legislature or voted down by lawmakers.


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