Worst school mascot ever


My god, even their Indian mascot looks awfully white. My high school’s mascot was the Kent-Meridian Royals, and even he (a European-looking guy in a crown*) didn’t look as stereotypically white as that guy.

It’s been 50 years, and no one noticed? That this Texas high school called their drill team the “Indianettes” should have been a big flag on that.

The Indianettes have been a PN-G tradition for more than 50 years. This year, the drill team is made of 54 members and will march with the band during half time. Members participate in many activities all year long, including summer camp, pep rallies, and half time performances during football season, and basketball performances, competitions, and spring show in the second semester. Tryouts are held in the spring of each year for sophomores and juniors.

They had to go to Florida, of all places, before anyone perked up and said, “HEY! That’s hella racist!”

The company’s Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, apologized Friday after a performance from a Texas high school’s drill team was laden with Native American stereotypes, including repeated chants of “scalp them!” It came just days after the company faced intense backlash over its silence to Florida’s controversial sex education bill, labeled by many critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

How could this possibly be the first time anyone called this flamingly racist act out?

Now follows the usual pro forma disclaimer.

The company [Disney] told the Associated Press the performance, done by Port Neches-Grove High School’s “Indianettes” drill team on Tuesday, “did not reflect our core values, and we regret it took place.” It claimed the performance did not match the audition tape sent by the school to the park’s organizers.

Every time one of these kinds of bigoted displays are put on, someone has to come out all wide-eyed and tell us that gosh, that didn’t reflect our values. Except that it did.

That’s Disney, expressing surprise that someone said something racist in their park. What about the school district itself? Platitudes.

“We are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in our school district,” it said in a statement. “Our district is nearing 100 years old, and our Board of Trustees is committed to always making the best decisions for our students, staff, and the communities of Port Neches and Groves.”

They’re old, y’all. If we can expect old people to have bigoted attitudes, that of course means we should allow old institutions to do likewise. Don’t you know they’re committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion? If they say it enough, that makes it so.

I thought that surely there must have been some prior push-back for such a blatantly racist chant, so I checked. There is an Association of Indian Athletes at the school! I wonder what they think of it. Except…

AIA, the ASSOCIATION of INDIAN ATHLETES, is a community service organization for female athletes. This group allows freshman-senior female athletes to join as a united front and give back to the community that gives them so much support during their individual seasons.

Oh. It’s not a group made up of Native American students at all. It’s a collection of mostly white female students who call themselves “Indians”, because that’s the school mascot. Yikes. It just gets ickier and ickier the deeper you dig.


*Huh. I went looking, and it seems even that goofy looking king was too much for the school. The old mascot was retired, and now it’s a lion. Has Port Neches & Groves school considered changing theirs, too?

Comments

  1. whywhywhy says

    We need more plant mascots.
    My high school was the Shamrocks with a standard “Go ‘Rocks” for a cheer. My college was the Broncos (boring and common), but the school colors are from the Black-Eyed Susan flower, which could be a great mascot.

  2. chrislawson says

    My initial reaction was to think that if the press release was true, then it would be hard to blame Disney for this. If anything, it would suggest that someone at the school had submitted a misleading audition tape…

    But then it turns out that Disney only responded days after the performance, clearly because it was generating public and media criticism, and that according to the school the same routine had been performed “for years” at Disney without complaint.

    If Disney had really been pro-active about anti-racist values, they would have insisted participating schools sign an agreement with clear instructions as to what is acceptable; they would have talked to this school many years earlier to explain that they need to change the routine if they want to keep participating; and if all that failed and the school turned up having misled them with their audition tape, then Disney would have acted on the day to remove them from the event.

  3. Bruce says

    But, what if the white “Indians” were really Lamanite or Nephite Jews who sailed to America in a submarine in 600 BC? After all, Port Neches is almost due south of the one true Garden of Eden in Jackson County, Missouri, so that should prove something or other, ehh?

  4. anat says

    Mascots based on Native American heritage are now illegal in Washington state, unless approved by nearby tribes. A local school changed theirs from Thunderbirds to T-birds to just barely comply.

  5. robro says

    Even the tom-tom music, costumes, and routine are racist. All they need is some “redskin” makeup to finish the job.

    I presume no one at Florida State University has considered changing their mascot from the “Seminoles”.

  6. Akira MacKenzie says

    Our high school mascot was similar: The profile of a stereotypically “stoic” Indian male with a war bonnet. The district would eventually replace it with a cartoonish spear with a flint point and decorated in feathers.

    Not sure that’s an improvement.

  7. hemidactylus says

    @6- robro
    FSU should retire the tomahawk chop and war chant, but the school has some relationship with the Florida branch of the Seminoles:
    https://unicomm.fsu.edu/messages/relationship-seminole-tribe-florida/

    Here’s a somewhat promotional PRish video:
    https://youtu.be/nOjbi8t2y-Q

    There are aspects of FSU’s appropriation that are not good, but others seem less obnoxious than what other Native American themed schools have done. At some point there needs to be a serious reevaluation though.

    Also see:
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/NCAA_Native_American_mascot_decision#Waivers_granted

  8. René says

    in a crown*) didn’t

    I’m curious as to how PZ raised the asterisk so insanely high.

  9. birgerjohansson says

    Bruce @ 3
    If they change the mascot to the prophet Mormonai dressed in Indian gear and standing over the wooden submarine they used to cross the Atlantic I say “Go for it!”

  10. lakitha tolbert says

    I’m going to make a wild guess and say that at some point someone somewhere did protest it, but that person wasn’t white so nobody cared what they had to say…but that’s just a guess.

  11. JustaTech says

    My school mascots have been a deer, a lamb, a space alien (unofficial), a mermaid with a sword, and a cartoon cinder block.

    The angry mermaid was the most fun for sporting events, but the cinder block best epitomized the school.

  12. says

    I am so glad my high school’s mascot was only geographically inappropriate, no condors for over 2000km.

    McGill University long claimed its nickname (until 2019) of “redmen” referred to the university’s colours. But even if that were true, the long history of using First Nations imagery, and calling the women’s teams by a word starting with “S”, suggested otherwise.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McGill_Redbirds_and_Martlets

    One of the biggest excuses used to avoid name changes is copyrights and competing usage. WHY should any new sports team (or team changing its mascot) be prevented from using generic words or animal like bear, lion, eagle, etc.? About 700 NCAA team nicknames are variations of just twelve mascots. If “branding” matters more to you than opposing racism, you’re either a profiteering jerk like Snyder or an inconsiderate jerk like far too many.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_college_team_nicknames_in_the_United_States

  13. brightmoon says

    My old high school had the Red Devils . Lost Every. Single. Game the 4 years I was there. 🤦🏽‍♀️

  14. PaulBC says

    This is kind of obscure, but that face without the headdress reminds me of the Groosalugg in Angel (sorry, a Joss Whedon show) as portrayed by Mark Lutz.

  15. NitricAcid says

    My high school named its teams the “Warriors”, but of course used First Nations imagery. I think we even had a totem pole out front, despite being in the prairies. For intramurals, instead of dividing the school into House A and House B, we had “tribes”- Cree, Sarcee, Chipewan (which isn’t even the Canadian spelling), Blood, Beaver….(I know there were six, but can’t recall the last). We’d occasionally have a local Elder in to talk to us, but sadly he never told us how full of crap the whole school was. “Cultural appropriation” wasn’t in our vocabulary in the 80s. I wish I had known better.

    No idea if the school still does that- they don’t name the teams on the website.

  16. PaulBC says

    NitricAcid@24 “Warriors, come out to play” Did you get much of that from the other schools? I had a friend in college in the 80s who thought that was the most hilarious thing ever and would repeat at at every opportunity. Wait I’m getting confused… It was not the same one who thought “Festival! Festival!” was the most hilarious thing ever and would repeat that at every opportunity.

    Good times.

  17. hemidactylus says

    @25- PaulBC
    Dexter’s dad (James Remar) was in The Warriors and also in Band of the Hand with Pops (Laurence Fishburne) from Black-ish.

    Why I recall watching Band of the Hand escapes me. Oh Michael Mann maybe. He gave us the original Lecter movie too which I also saw in the theater.

    Oh snap, Fishburne was on the Hannibal TV show I refused to watch after the mushrooms growing out of bodies episode. Can’t ever unsee that.

    Fishburne was also on the CSI show after William Peterson (Manhunter) left.

  18. Erp says

    My university officially doesn’t have a mascot since dropping the Indian way back in 1972 (unofficially it has a tree though whether palm or redwood seems to vary year by year).

    A quick search btw shows the University of Richmond in Virginia as the spider as a mascot and has had it since the 1890s.

  19. Silentbob says

    My “favourite” detail is that originally it was going to be even worse:

    A Disney employee asked the group to remove headdresses prior to their performance, and the chants heard in the parade were not part of the school’s rehearsal either, she said. Photos and videos of the Port Neches-Groves High School drill team show them wearing headdresses in past performances.

    Link in original.

    So it’s not like they didn’t know it was racist – it’s just that they wanted them to tone down the racism a little bit to an “acceptable” level.

  20. steve1 says

    My Highschool changed their mascot from an indian to a Trevian back in the 80s. What is a Trevian you ask, no one knows. Since our high school was named after a german town a trevian was some sort of roman era warrior.

  21. blf says

    My high school in the States had as its theme(? mascot?) the Scottish, albeit why was always a puzzle… I was then (and am still now) unawares of any Scottish influence in the area. Possibly a “neutral” choice, but as it ignore the indigenous peoples of the area, a notable European influence in the area, and the wildlife in the area, I and some others were always puzzled. Even more so since the indigenous peoples were extinct, and the (much later (dust bowl era)) Europeans were uncommon in the States and locally admired (Basque)… presumably some heavy-handed school district bureaucrats or similar tone-deaf eejits “forcing” the “choice”… Later, I lived in Santa Cruz, California, where the University famously choose the Banana Slug as its mascot, over the objections of the Chancellor (who, to his credit, later admitted he was wrong).

  22. cartomancer says

    How about they keep the white-guy-in-fancy-dress mascot, but rename the team to the Port Neches Cultural Appropriators?

Leave a Reply