“Red Raider” Name Offends

Barnstable High School’s mascot and name has undergone multiple changes over the years. From a Native American with warpaint to our mascot being the letter “B,” celebrating school pride without being viewed as insensitive has become rather difficult.

The name “Red Raiders” has become so engraved in BHS tradition that some students no longer see it as offensive. While offending Indigenous Americans was not the intent when deciding on the name, times have changed and political correctness has evolved.

When our principal says his infamous catchphrase, “Have a Red Raider Day!” nobody understands the meaning. If that is going to be frequently projected to a large audience who is easily influenced, Clark should define what being a “Red Raider” truly means.

The “red” in “Red Raiders” is the primary subject that offends members of our community. A football team, the Washington Redskins, has gained negative attention for their name. The term “redskin” can be referenced to the bloody scalps of brutally murdered Native Americans, and the color “red” in our name glorifies these actions.

Native Americans were often attacked by caucasians that targetted them for their “red” skin. Illustrating a Native American’s skin as red is similar to portraying a Chinese person’s skin as yellow, or drawing big lips on one with a darker skin tone. None of these are okay; they are ignorant.

In our November issue, Insight reported Thanksgiving being a “day of mourning” in Native American culture. During Thanksgiving, Natives acknowledge their ancestors’ sacrifices. Pilgrims depicted their enemies as savage, and that description has now unknowingly weaved itself into BHS.

Typically, at both the high school and college level, mascots are animals associated with ferocity such as lions and bears. Having a Native American as a mascot could be interpreted by some Natives that we think of them as animals.

We shouldn’t feel guilty for expressing pride in our school. But all we are able to do is dress in red and apply war paint on our body, which limits our creativity. Wearing headdresses for non-Native ceremonial purposes is highly disrespectful to Native American culture. Headdresses are earned for immense war efforts, not for being in the crowd of a high school football game. Adolescents doing two quick swipes of red paint below their eyes can be seen as warpaint, mocking Natives. Since when is a 13 year old white girl attending a football game similar to a Native American bracing themselves for war? With “Red Raiders” as our brand, this is how it can look from an outside point of view.

Fact of the matter is, being perceived as “just another school that defaces Native Americans” should not be what BHS strives to be in 2019.

Our history teachers educate us on the mistreatment of Native Americans, such as the Trail of Tears, yet we are mistreating them ourselves by integrating the color red into our team’s name. Yes, we replaced the mascot with the letter “B,” but that doesn’t change the fact Barnstable can be seen as hypocritical. Our new slogan is “pride, honor, respect” and we are preaching Civility Fridays, yet we are not respecting Natives with the name “Red Raiders.”

Schools such as Lowell High School, who also have the name Red Raiders, are in the process of changing their representation. They are dropping the name and creating a new mascot. If we kept the school colors as red and white, kept the “Raiders” and deleted the “red,” it’d remove the Native American cruelty of the name and demonstrate how BHS has evolved. It is better to take action ourselves than have an outside force take this situation to greater extremes.