Much to my delight I woke up earlier this week and saw that a San Francisco-based social worker decided to take issue with Ripon High School’s mascot.
No, I’m not going to rant about how it’s terrible and how it should go away. Quite the opposite in fact.
But in an age when outrage seems to be instant and in many ways misplaced, I knew that the majority of local people who have a stake in that school in one form or another would suffer no fools when it comes to an outside perspective, and this would lead to an interesting smattering of comments and responses that ran the logical gamut.
Essentially – it would be entertaining.
And boy was it. Comments ranged from the expected “stay in San Francisco and mind your business” to the somehow this being another example of how liberals are ruining America – complete with a knock on Elizabeth Warren.
Now while I disagree that the mascot of Ripon High School needs to change – I thought this matter was already settled when high schools with the “Redskins” mascot had to cease using it, and a host of other reasons I’ll get into – there are some elements that were brought up and probably deserve a closer look or a deeper discussion.
I’m not a social justice warrior by any stretch of the imagination, but there is something a little bit unsettling about seeing people who don’t have Native American heritage dressing up like they have Native American heritage. Some might call this cultural appropriation, but at the very least it’s insensitive when the history of Native people in America is taken into consideration.
You don’t see this with any other ethnic groups, so why is it something that’s casually accepted when it comes to Native Americans?
Now that I got the critique out of the way, I think a local historical perspective is important when understanding the context of Native Americans and Ripon specifically. The city’s southern border is quite literally a river named after the leader of a local Yokut tribe that was born along the banks of that very river – Estanislao. And while the early Mormon settlement that paid tribute to his name – called Stanislaus City – failed and the city was eventually renamed, the precedent for the honor bestowed upon him was already set.
In fact, that very river was initially named “Rio De Laquisimes” before it took on the moniker – Americanized, of course – of Estanislao during the period of Mexican control. And as leader, Estanislao organized raids against missions in San Jose, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz as well as Mexican settlements typical of early relations between settlers and colonizers and the local native populace. Ultimately, he would beg for forgiveness from the Mexican government, which was granted, and he would live out the rest of his life teaching non-Natives the Yokut language and culture before he succumbed to likely smallpox, which didn’t exist before the arrival of those previously mentioned settlers.
So basically, Ripon has a history of honoring its own unique placement and heritage within the local Native American record. And short of people donning war paint and chanting there’s nothing at all that trivializes that heritage at all.
While Carly Koehler is certainly entitled to her opinion of Ripon’s mascot, the veiled threat of making a push to tie-up the school’s funding until the school changes her perceived slight seems like a missed opportunity to have actual dialogue about things that could be seen as insensitive while dismissing those that flat-out are not.
Friday Night Lights
It’s football season again.
And that means it’s time for more ill-advised football picks with the zany men of “the thread” that have literally waited months to settle scores left over when we set out to turn this isn’t something fun and entertaining.
To recap, Chris Teicheira is terrible at picking high school football games and as a result still has to buy a brick in East Union’s Circle of Honor honoring the class of Eric Wohle. He also has to buy dinner, which will happen on Monday when we all get together to laugh and antagonize one another at String’s in Manteca.
And while we still have three weeks before we’re officially going to start the tally – the fact that the season starts early this year and doesn’t coincide with the NFL season means we can’t pick the 49ers and Raiders game to balance out the scales – the predictions and their associated consequences have already started flying around.
For example, Teicheira believes that he will win this year and is willing to put his own dignity on the line – again – to prove it. If he comes up short the victor will end up shaving his head. And to make things even more interesting, if it isn’t fellow Manteca High alum Mark Condit that wins, the winner between Wohle and myself will get to shave the initials into the sides of his new do and he’ll have to wear that for an entire week.
There are lots more bets to come before everything is finalized, and I’m guessing that a lot of it will come out on Monday – a dinner that Wohle says he is already fasting for.
While I admit that I periodically have a crisis of conscience when it comes to football these days – the studies are mounting that the long-term cognitive effects are not good – I’m glad that we’ve done another trip around the sun and the sport that I grew up loving is gearing up to be back in full-swing, and take solace in the fact are efforts are underway to limit those impacts.
So, if you enjoyed our banter last year when we came up this idea and adapted it on the fly, I hope you enjoy the next 15 weeks (there’s no way Manteca doesn’t make a run at a State Championship this year) of the back-and-forth.
I know that I’m going to.