Petition Looks To Change NJ High School Mascot
Controversies over mascots is nothing new, but I think this is the first time I've heard about it surrounding a high school in New Jersey. The Washington NFL franchise and the Cleveland MLB franchise have been the subject of the loudest debates lately, but recently I've seen a handful of my friends spreading word of a petition to change the Howell High School mascot, the Rebel.
The petition says:
A school mascot represents the identity of its students, teachers & staff—an entire community. It has come to our attention that the Howell High School (NJ) mascot, which is based off a confederate soldier's likeness, does not represent the values of the people it serves. Instead, it undermines the struggles of BIPOC and the blatant prejudice it stands to represent. The depiction of a confederate "rebel" serving as a high school mascot could not be more demeaning or out-of-touch.
We also request all uses of "rebel" and "rebel yell" be disassociated with Howell High School, as those terms also are commonplace in confederate culture. The appalling history of the confederacy should never be glorified or displayed, especially in a public institution that prides themselves on providing educational opportunities for all. The very notion of this symbol existing for so long shows Freehold Regional High School District's (FRHSD) complacency on the matter.
A positive change to this important community symbol is most dire for all future students and resident of Howell.
I've been in agreement with people who say Confederate statues and flags should be taken down. I don't understand the people who say "it's just part of my culture", when they are literally celebrating a group of people who were traitorous to the United States.
The school has actually responded to the petition, although the statement from the school isn't dated, so I don't know for sure how current their response is:
Our community members have recently expressed concerns over the former image of Howell High School’s mascot. Throughout the last several years, the District has taken action to remove the former image of this mascot. For instance, the image has been removed from new uniforms and was not included when Howell High School’s turf field and basketball court were updated. Rather, the Howell “H” has appeared and been consistently utilized to symbolize the school. We are continuing to take the necessary steps to remove any remaining public depictions of that former image.
Howell High School’s team names will remain the Rebels, however, we will be working with our student body to hear their thoughts and design a new image for the school’s mascot in the near future.
I feel like that is pretty much a cop out. It's one step to remove the cartoonish Confederate soldier mascot, but keeping the name "Rebel" makes it seem like lip service. Unless they keep the name and change the logo to the Star Wars Rebel Alliance, the connection of "Rebel" to "Confederacy" will still be there. Side note, if a school really did call themselves the Rebels and put the Starbird on their helmets and jerseys, I would consider moving just so my kids would go to that school.