Petition underway to change Hays High School mascot
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A petition to change the Hays High School mascot is underway. This comes after some expressed concerns about the Indian mascot, claiming it is offensive and racist.
The conversation is also happening on a national level, most notably with the Washington Redskins of the NFL beginning to take steps to change the team’s name.
Among those bothered by “Indians” for a mascot is Delphine Sophie, a Hays High School graduate who said the school’s mascot never felt right to her.
“This is something I have been reflecting on since I graduated and I was involved in a lot of other activism when I was in school and never spoke out against the mascot, which I feel is racist,” she said. “And I just know there are plenty of Native Americans that do not find it to be a positive representation. They find it to be a caricature of their culture.”
With social-justice movements happening across the nation, Sophie felt motivated to make a change.
“As our nation reflects on our racist past, I thought this was sort of a minor change, a minor good thing that I could do.”
Fellow Hays High School graduate Margo Moore also said the mascot struck her as racist and wrong, and even if the petition fails, she feels like it’s a step in the right direction.
“It could start a sort of wider conversation or organize folks in a more centralized place who do think that or have thought that for a while,” she said. “And it’s a place where we can sort of band together to work on this issue because I think it’s definitely more of a marathon and not a sprint.”
Cade Becker, a sophomore at Hays High School has started his own petition to protect the mascot, keeping the name from changing.
“There is no display of racism as we are not judging or causing distress against the Native Indian People’s of America’s. This has been our symbol for too long, and we shall not let them take it away,” Becker’s petition says. “This has been a statue of our Hays High Spirit, and they will not take that away from us. It shows no racial issues or any other type of discrimination. This is our school and the school that thousands have graduated from. It’s the school that we as a whole, have endured so many triumphs and victories. We can not lose this significant feature and mascot of our school.”
Becker says this is an important issue he wants to confront “head-on.”
Hays USD 489 Superintendent Ron Wilson said the Hays Board of Education hasn’t yet had a conversation about the issue but believes it’s important to listen and learn from those who may find offense with the high school’s mascot.
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