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Tuesday, March 19 , 2019, 3:54 am | Fog/Mist 53º


Letter to the Editor: Coming Together in True Warrior Spirit

There’s a lot more to being a warrior than fighting. When most people hear the term “warrior,” they think of battling or being aggressive. A successful warrior also shows self-discipline, compassion, courage, integrity, service to others, and respect for differences. Our community needs to demonstrate these traits as we face the challenges of the Carpinteria mascot issue, which include:

» Separating myth from fact: Will Warrior spirit die if Native American symbols are removed? No. Our athletic and school culture and traditions are very important to our community. The Warrior name will not change. Pride, honor, teamwork, sportsmanship, courage and loyalty can be associated with many images. The Native American imagery is not appropriate and needs to change.

» Lack of understanding of negative effects of stereotypic imagery: Stereotypes are harmful because they maintain false generalizations about a group of people and can lead to prejudice. For example, a person from another country might think all Americans are rich, loud and arrogant after meeting a few tourists or seeing our movies and TV shows, and then decide they don’t like any Americans. In the case of Native American mascots, they weaken the ability of Native Americans to show accurate and respectful images of their culture, spirituality and traditions. They hurt both those who hold the stereotypes as well as those being stereotyped. Hundreds of school districts have successfully removed such imagery. We need to learn about stereotypes and prejudice and how these are harmful. We can also start a class about the history of Native Americans, their diverse cultures, and current issues they face.

» Corrective action by Carpinteria Unified School District: The formation of a citizens committee to examine the imagery and advise the school board regarding its removal is a step in the right direction. More can and must be done. The committee needs to consider Native American expertise, begin its work soon and complete its tasks by early fall. We must continue with the efforts made during Be the Change Week and Challenge Day through diversity training for staff and students as well as programs to reduce prejudice, bullying and violence.

» The use of bullying, intimidation, name-calling, and presenting incorrect or incomplete information: Provide training in respectful communication and conflict resolution skills and use these skills.

» The popular belief that issues are decided by majority opinion: The mascot issue is related to the rights of individual people and discrimination. Most people do not back such issues at first. Consider the ending of slavery, women’s right to vote, and school desegregation. Not all school board decisions will reflect popular opinion. Many sports, professional and religious organizations have recommended the removal of Native American imagery as sports mascots. Among these groups are the NCAA, National Education Association, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, American Psychological Association, Commission on Catholic Community Action, Presbyterian Church U.S.A., and the American Jewish Committee.

» Belief that use of the imagery is legal: The school board’s attorney stated that use of Native American imagery is legal “on its face,” that is, until it is challenged in California court.

We call upon our schools, churches and community groups to work together to meet these challenges. We have an opportunity to strengthen the true Warrior spirit through persistent, courageous action. We are confident that our community is up to the task.

Becki Norton, Amy Orozco, Betty Songer, the Rev. Toni Stuart and Debbie Weinstein

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