Portland school delays vote for new mascot over fears of Evergreen trees having possible ties to lynchings

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PORTLAND, OR– According to reports, a Portland high school has delayed a vote to change its mascot to an Evergreen tree over concerns about its potential ties to lynching. 

The tree’s imagery prompted a least one board member to successfully argue that Ida B. Wells-Barnett High School, a school named after a prominent black activist and journalist who covered lynchings, should delay its vote to make the Evergreen treen its official mascot.

Portland Public Schools Board of Education Director Michelle DePass posed this question during the meeting:

“I’m wondering if there was any concern with the imagery there, in using a tree…as our mascot?”

She added:

“I think everyone comes with blind spots and I think that might’ve been a really big blind spot.”

One of the committee members involved in choosing the Evergreen mascot said the issue was broached during the process. Martin Osborne said:

“We did talk about it, but we were looking at the symbolism more as a tree of life than a tree of death.”

Osborne, who is African American added:

“The Evergreen mascot had nothing to do with the horrible history of lynching in the United States.  Lynching trees typically are not evergreens.”

The Portland Tribune reported that after adopting a new namesake earlier in the year, the high school also wanted to ditch its Trojan mascot. A committee comprised of students, staff, and community members suggested the evergreens as the school’s new mascot.

Reading from a resolution, Ellen Whatmore, a teacher and mascot committee member at Wells-Barnett High School, said:

“Evergreens are characterized by the life-giving force of their foliage, the strength of their massive trunk, and the depth of their roots, in an individual tree and as a forest of trees. They provide shelter and sustenance. They have histories that preclude us and will continue in perpetuity after we are no more.”

School Principle Filip Hristic told the school board that Wells-Barnett’s family has been supportive the school’s efforts to honor and promote her legacy, but shared DePass’s concerns. He noted, however, that the school’s committee had not had conversations with the Wells-Barnett family specifically about the mascot. He said:

“We take this seriously and I definitely want to follow that commitment to protect, preserve, and promote the legacy of Ida B. Wells.”

Hristic added:

“The focus and opportunity was really to marry this sentiment that we heard from a lot of our stakeholders during our naming process, which was the desire for a local connection. Ida B. Wells was somebody who stood strong and stood proud against what Woodrow Wilson and many others promoted.”

Hristic and Whatmore said that the Evergreen tree was a great way to capture more of a local connection in the school’s identity. The conversation around the tree and its possible connection to lynchings was enough to give the board pause.

DePass suggested that the school committee reach out to Wells-Barnett’s family to make sure they saw no issue with the potential mascot. She also implored her colleagues to weigh in. She said:

“Lynching is a really difficult topic to talk about and as a sole black board member, I invite you, bed you, implore you to join me in disrupting the situations, practices, that are racist. I can’t do this by myself.”

The board has delayed the mascot vote until their next meeting. 

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So woke: Headdresses and Native American face paint banned from Cleveland Indians stadium

April 2nd, 2021

CLEVELAND, OH – While the Major League Baseball team the Cleveland Indians is still working to figure out a new team name, the team recently announced that they will no longer allow fans to adorn Native American headdresses or face paint while inside of Progressive Field.

When it comes to professional sports like football and baseball, it’s not uncommon to see fans among the stands adorning themselves in some sort of garb that is emblematic of their preferred team.

One such practice was fairly common with respect to the fans of the Cleveland Indians, but the team announced that there will be a new fan dress policy moving forward on March 31st.

Moving forward, the team’s new dress code policy notes that fans can be kicked out or completely denied entry for adorning “headdresses and face paint styled in a way that references or appropriates American Indian cultures and traditions”:

“Inappropriate or offensive images, words, dress or face paint must be covered or removed, and failure to do so may constitute grounds for ejection or refusal of admission.”

However, fans of the Cleveland Indians will still be allowed to wear any hats or clothing that may feature “Chief Wahoo,” the team’s mascot that has also been the subject of rigorous debate on the level of appropriateness due to the stereotypes employed in the mascot’s caricature.

Earlier in 2021, the Cleveland Indians noted that they have intentions to change their team’s name, for which they have held since 1915. However, whatever new team name that officials decide on won’t take effect until the 2022 season.

While it’s unclear what exactly team owner Paul Dolan intends to rename the team to, he noted that whatever the change is will not bear any “Native American themes or connotations to it.”

This action taken by the Cleveland Indians, with regard to instilling a sort of dress code for fans, is hardly surprising considering the Kansas City Chiefs employed the same standard for a fan dress code back in August of 2020.

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In other news related to sports teams that have changed things up in an effort shake off perceivably offensive team names and the ilk, the quarterback for the Washington “Football Team” (formerly known as the Redskins) managed to get fined in December of 2020 for a photo of him among some women where he wasn’t wearing a face covering. 

One week after the mask controversy, he was then let go from the team completely. 

Here’s that previous report when the controversy first broke.

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WASHINGTON, DC – Quarterback Dwayne Haskins has been fined $40,000 by his team, the National Football league’s Washington “Football Team” and has been stripped of his captain status for violating the team’s and the league’s Covid-19 protocol policies.

In a video and photos originally posted on Instagram, but now removed, and reposted via Twitter, Haskins can be seen with a group of women – most of them wearing his #7 jersey – and no one with a mask in sight.

The news first broke that Haskins was in a strip club when the party cranked off, but it was later discovered that the shindig occurred in a hotel room.  Strippers were allegedly involved in a birthday party for his girlfriend, as reported by the New York Post.

In one story provided to the New York Post, a woman is sitting on the Washington quarterback’s lap with both parties holding wads of cash without masks on. Another story shows five maskless women wearing Washington No. 7 jerseys (Haskins’ number) and sipping mimosas around a table.

Haskins wrote on his Twitter account:

“I want to publicly apologize for my actions this past Sunday.

“I spoke with Coach [Ron] Rivera yesterday and took full accountability for putting the team at risk. It was irresponsible and immature of me and I accept responsibility for my action.

I also want to apologize for creating a distraction for my team during our playoff push. I will learn and grow from this and do what’s best for the team moving forward.”

Tom Peilssero, privy to NFL business, stated:

“The Washington Football Team is aware of social media posts showing QB Dwayne Haskins partying maskless in a strip club, was in contact with the NFL yesterday about the matter and is handling the matter internally, I’m told.

“Going to a nightclub without PPE is considered ‘High Risk COVID-19 Conduct,’ punishable by a maximum fine of one week’s salary or up to four-game suspension.”

Pelissero added that NFC East-leading Washington does not plan to release the 23-year-old, who is the lone healthy quarterback on their roster with Kyle Allen out for the year and Alex Smith dealing with a calf injury.

Haskins was relegated to third-string in early October behind former undrafted free agent Allen and veteran Smith, who hadn’t played in an NFL game since 2018.

The $40,000 fine is the largest known fine for a player’s COVID-19 violation, equaling more than half of Haskins’ weekly paycheck, according to NFL Network.

The New York Post reports that Haskins told reporters Wednesday he was not at a strip club, but rather a private birthday party for his girlfriend. ESPN reported Haskins hired strippers for a party in a hotel suite. He did admit, however, that he “deserved” his punishment for putting the team at risk by not wearing a mask at a large gathering. He said he’s thus far tested negative for COVID-19.

From the New York Post:

“Haskins, the No. 15 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, was caught partying maskless following Sunday’s 23-15 loss to the Seahawks, counting as the second time Haskins has violated the league’s coronavirus protocol.

“Earlier in the season, he made reservations for a family member to stay at the team hotel the night before a road game against the Giants.

“With the team still waiting for clarity on quarterback Alex Smith’s calf injury, Washington might have to stick with Haskins.

“He participated in practice Wednesday and with no suspensions as part of his recent punishment, head coach Ron Rivera — who informed Haskins on Monday he’d no longer be a captain — said Haskins would start if Smith can’t play.”

There were several mixed reactions to the Haskins/stripper scenario on twitter – many people made excuses for the guy, completely ignoring the league’s Covid-19 protocol policies, but one person stood against Haskins’ actions:

Makbeanzgaming posted:

“Fine him and cut him. No mature man would sit around and party during a pandemic knowing their coach has gone through a battle with cancer. I’m so sick of hearing from the Dwayne fanboys, he’s not a franchise qb. Start anyone else if Alex can’t start.”

Others were supportive of Haskins:

RoHustle:

“There is no way to know if this was after the game. This could have been before the pandemic or last year some time. Chill out until we get all the facts in. He’s not that stupid to jeopardize his job especially after breaking protocol once before. Ron don’t play and he knows it.”

Alex Crow:

“He had nearly 300 yards passing and almost brought the team back vs a goliath // he has every right to blow off some steam, feel good about himself–even in a pandemic.”

It should be noted that Haskins admitted to the party and circumstances, and said that he deserved his punishment.

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