ANDERSON TOWNSHIP, Ohio — The Forest Hills School District will hold a special meeting Tuesday to discuss the future of Anderson High School’s much-maligned “Redskin” mascot.
The name — a racial pejorative widely criticized by Native American groups — and the logo — a Native American man with a feather in his hair — have thus far withstood multiple calls for removal, most recently in 2018.
“In recent weeks, the district has received hundreds of messages from those who wish to voice their opinion regarding the Anderson High School mascot,” superintendent Prebles Scot wrote Thursday in a letter to district families. “We read each message and respectfully consider all perspectives provided as we carefully pause and reflect on the significant conversations taking place in our school district, its community and across the country."
The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday on YouTube, where anyone interested in the issue can watch live.
“It’s vitally important that all of our schools and school grounds are welcoming, safe and inclusive spaces for students, staff and community members,” Scot wrote. “We continuously strive to do better, listen more and move forward in our collective purpose to empower every student every day."
Native American athletic mascots have been a subject of controversy since at least 1968, when the National Congress for American Indians began campaigning for their removal from professional sports. The NCAI argued as recently as 2013 that the use of "Redskin" mascots dehumanizes Native American people and presents a negative stereotype of tribal cultures.
And now the Black Lives Matter protests that have dominated the national news cycle throughout late May and early June have reawakened broader calls for racial justice in the United States, including for non-Black groups.
The Anderson Redskins haven’t been the subject of nationwide attention since then, but the NFL Washington Redskins have. The mayor of Washington D.C. condemned the team name and said it would be “an obstacle” to allowing the team to build a new stadium in the District. Columnists at USA Today and The Washington Post urged team owner Daniel Snyder to make a change.
On Twitter, when the team posted a black square meant to signal solidarity with Black anti-brutality protesters, thousands of commenters angrily accused it of hypocrisy.
“Words are meaningless without action, how about you change your name as a sign of good faith,” one commenter wrote.
“Delete your account,” wrote another.
“Want to really stand for racial justice?” tweeted New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “Change your name."
In Forest Hills, the most recent push to have Anderson’s team name changed ended in a stalemate after months of impassioned debate.
People who opposed the mascot described it as racist and demeaning. People who supported it said that they were worried about a loss of school spirit.
Members of the Anderson High School branding and mascot committee ultimately decided not to decide. The name stayed.
The deciding factor for at least one member was a belief that replacing and rebranding the mascot would be too expensive.
"I think the numbers say don't change," committee member Andy Wolf said at the time. "I think the price tag says don't change."