USA Today is on the warpath against high schools with so-called racially insensitive nicknames. In separate stories, USA Today pressured Red Mesa High School in Arizona to drop “Redskins” and Robstown Early College High School in Texas to replace the nickname “Cotton Pickers.”
There’s a big catch to these stories. Red Mesa is a predominantly Navajo school located on the Navajo Reservation. Located near the U.S.-Mexico border, Robstown is 94 percent Hispanic or Latino. Minorities quoted in the two stories are proud of their schools’ respective nicknames and resist politically correct efforts to erase them.
In the story by Analis Bailey, fourth-generation Robstown grad Bianca Prado says of Cotton Pickers, “It’s merely a label that is accurately portraying what your grandmother did.” Prado was furious over an outpouring of social media opposition to the nickname, as she believes the name carries a sense of pride and admiration for migrant workers who immigrated from Mexico, starting with her great-grandfather. “The town was built on the backs of a labor force of Hispanics that followed the production season,” Prado says.
Prado also said that people on social media are trying to make this a “Black” thing for “shock value.”
The local school district issued a statement supporting the Cotton Pickers nickname and “sharing their reverence in the cotton-picking profession … .” The school district also told USA Today the name “represents a sense of pride based on tradition for the students and a historical legacy for the community members.”
Too bad. Bailey knows better than the non-woke locals, writing: “To critics of the mascot, the nickname is an offensive downplaying of our country’s painful history of slavery and the forced labor of enslaved Africans, Black and Indigenous people.”
Prado counters that people outside the area don’t know their history, and she says she and members of her family have all picked fruit, cotton and onions.
In the story by Greg Moore (originally posted by The Arizona Republic), he refers to Red Mesa as “a stubborn outlier” that uses a “racial slur against its own people” for a nickname.
Charlaine Tso, a Navajo Nation Council delegate and graduate of Red Mesa High, is quoted saying: “In the gymnasium, we have the mascot on a horse. As a source of pride and symbolism, he does raise his spear. That gesture there does say that we are strong, we are resilient, and we are going to face whatever battle or challenges that may come. … That gives us strength and positivity and hope. And I think that’s the reason some of us, the communities, cannot relate to the controversial opinion.”
Left-streamer Moore knows so much better, refuting Tso with the comment, “But this argument fails to consider the harm of cultural appropriation.”
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez also disapproves of the Redskins nickname, commenting, “For generations, this team name and logo has misrepresented the true history and events that define the term ‘redskins.’”
Moore also uses the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) to make his case for change. Bryan Pollard, associate director of NAJA, said, “Our position has always been that mascots are a racist epithet and harmful to native people. There’s no getting around the origin of the term and that fact that there’s a direct linkage to the genocide that was happening on this continent.”
Pollard claims that native logos on football helmets and basketball uniforms do tremendous damage. Such as discrimination in education, racial slurs, stereotyping, “microassaults and culturally insensitive, delegitimizing and assimilative school policies and practices” and “problematic academic labeling and tracking that assumes Native families and students are deficient.”