Ten months after a gaggle of McClymonds High School students began a petition to vary their faculty’s mascot, a brand new picture is being adopted to interchange the Native American icon that was part of the West Oakland faculty’s identification for many years.
Whereas the imagery can be totally different, the identify of McClymonds’ mascot and sports activities groups, the “Warriors,” will stay the identical.
A committee of McClymonds college students and alumni met with Principal Jeffrey Taylor and different OUSD workers over the previous six months to develop picture concepts, and all the McClymonds pupil physique voted throughout the first week of faculty and chosen two: One encompasses a Black man in profile, elevating a spear and protect. The opposite picture depicts a Black lady and man sporting conventional African warrior apparel. The brand new pictures are influenced by warriors from the Ashanti, Zulu, and Masai tribes of Africa, and had been designed by Anika Janell, a McClymonds alumna who graduated from the college in 2008.
The push to take away the outdated mascot was initially met with resistance from the college’s energetic alumni group, lots of whom felt that the warrior embodied the resilient spirit of McClymonds college students. However the petition gathered greater than 18,000 signatures inside a number of months of being on-line, leading to deeper conversations inside the faculty group.
Asia Ragland, one of many college students who began the petition, stated that the outdated mascot—a generic rendering of a Native American man sporting a headdress—appeared inconsistent with a college that serves largely Black college students. Ragland, who graduated from McClymonds earlier this 12 months, had been eager to carry up the problem since they had been a freshman.
“I needed to do that earlier than I graduated as a result of it’s been bothering me for the reason that ninth grade,” Ragland stated. “I’ve grown as an individual since then and tried to be extra inclusive. We must always have one thing that isn’t offensive to the Indigenous group and uplifts the Black group since this faculty is majority Black.”
Indigenous teams have objected to caricatures of Native Individuals used for college and sports activities mascots, saying they perpetuate stereotypes of native teams as barbaric, and are sometimes the one impression that many individuals have of Indigenous individuals. Skilled sports activities groups, just like the NFL’s Washington, D.C. team and MLB’s Cleveland team, have dropped or intend to drop their groups’ names and imagery.
McClymonds isn’t the one highschool within the Bay Space to vary its mascot lately after dealing with petitions and demonstrations from college students and group members who discovered it offensive. A Vallejo faculty dropped its “Apache” mascot in 2013, and in 2018 a Napa highschool changed its mascot from the “Indians” to the “Grizzlies.”
The push at McClymonds was primarily pushed by college students, who emphasised that they weren’t attempting to vary the identify of the mascot, the warrior, however the picture that represents it. Nonetheless, the petition induced a rift between some college students and alumni, who feared that altering the mascot might invite extra unwelcome modifications to the 106-year-old faculty.
“The scholars felt that the opposite picture was insensitive to Indigenous, native individuals,” stated La’Cole Martin, who graduated from McClymonds in 2000. “It was actually laborious to obtain what they had been saying and to essentially see their perspective on issues, as a result of it was simply so reverse of what we felt, which was the dignity and acknowledgement of Indigenous individuals within the warrior—and we take pleasure in that.”
Resiliency, endurance, and perseverance had been a number of the traits that the committee instructed McClymonds warriors embodied, and what they needed a brand new mascot picture to signify. The varsity has confronted quite a few challenges lately, together with declining enrollment, toxic chemicals on campus, and shootings near the school. The demographics of West Oakland, the place the college has been situated since 1938, are additionally altering, inflicting some to query how gentrification might impression the college’s existence. Regardless of these challenges, the college has a repute for championship-winning soccer and basketball groups, and well-known alumni, together with actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen, former Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, rapper MC Hammer, and a number of skilled athletes.
If stored, the outdated mascot picture might presumably have been discovered to be in violation of the college district’s nondiscrimination coverage, which states that each one OUSD “packages and actions” must be “freed from any racially derogatory or discriminatory faculty or athletic crew names, mascots, or nicknames.”
Alumni finally got here round to the thought, seeing it as a possibility to create a brand new legacy with the present college students and design a mascot that embodies the college’s many years of serving largely Black college students and households in West Oakland.
McClymonds college students voted throughout the first week of faculty and chosen two pictures, one in every of a Black man in profile, elevating a spear and protect. The opposite picture is of a Black lady and man sporting conventional African warrior apparel. The brand new pictures are influenced by warriors from the Ashanti, Zulu, and Masai tribes of Africa, and designed by Anika Janell, a McClymonds alumna who graduated from the college in 2008.
“There’s a component of honoring that McClymonds has traditionally been a college that has served predominantly African-American college students, which is the connection to the African warrior,” stated Vanessa Sifuentes, an OUSD highschool administrator who additionally served because the facilitator for the committee.
The earlier mascot had largely been phased out over time, Sifuentes stated, however there are nonetheless a number of pictures on campus that can must be eliminated: an icon on the skin wall of the gymnasium, which district workers estimate might value $6,400 to take away, banners all through the constructing celebrating the McClymonds Warriors, earlier graduating courses, and sports activities groups, and a trophy case that options a picture of a Native American man sporting a headdress.
Contained in the gymnasium, an outline of a Native American man and dreamcatcher imagery appeared on the partitions and flooring of the basketball courtroom till this summer time, when the Golden State Warriors Basis renovated the court.
“Though I don’t go to the college anymore, I’d be happy with the mascot they selected. It’s a brand new step for this faculty and the scholars that can be going there,” Ragland stated. “The native group has stated so many occasions that they don’t need to be represented as mascots, so we give them their humanization again by altering the mascot.”