Dalton Piercey’s recent letter baffles me ("Assimilation is the true enemy," May 19).
Mr. Piercey alleges I am an accomplice to the national Decolonization movement. According to dictionary.cambridge.org, Decolonization is a historical and political process defined as “the release of one country or territory from political control by another country” and the political independence received by European colonies (= a country or area controlled politically by a more powerful country) in Africa and Asia after World War II.”
As a philosopher, I am familiar with the historical-political process of Decolonization. Many people living in the Global South have fought, both through the ballot box and on the battlefield, for political independence and liberty against imperialist colonizers under the banner of Decolonization.
However, as a privileged white cisman who grew up in Napa Valley, let me say, unequivocally, that I am not now nor have I ever been a member of the national Decolonization movement, "concealed" or otherwise. I have never been so in public or private. Rather than pleading my case further, I will reiterate a few reasons for I believe that the NVUSD Board of Trustees should vote to remove and replace the racist Indian mascot.
The Napa Valley High School Mascot Committee, which included parents and indigenous people, was commissioned to evaluate the issue and recommend a course of action for the district to take. This was an inclusive, transparent, and democratic process. The committee has carried out its commission and recommends that the school board remove the mascot.
Again, evidence reveals the harm stereotypical messaging has on the self-esteem and academic success of indigenous students, which is why groups like the American Psychological Association, also recommends that school districts dismantle mascots.
Removing stereotypical Indian mascots not only supports student success for historically marginalized students, it also prevents white and non-indigenous students from developing distorted and romanticized notions of all indigenous people.
Eric Stegman, a specialist in Native American policy at the Center for American Progress, said in a research report entitled “Missing the Point” that “…studies show that these mascots undermine the educational experience of all students, particularly those with little or no contact with indigenous and American Indian and Alaska Native. In other words, these stereotypical representations are too often understood as factual representations and, thus, 'contribute to the development of cultural biases and prejudices.'"
Bottom line: These stereotypical Indian mascots have real effects on the material conditions of indigenous students. These are conditions I will never be able to fully experience due to my privilege and personal lens.
I care about this issue because I grew up in Napa Valley and listened to the experiences of my friends and others. I support removing the mascot, not because I am an adherent to an arcane political philosophy.
I support removing the mascot because it stops real harm being perpetrated against marginalized students. Removing the mascot will contribute to the end of unrealistic and romanticized representations of other groups of people.