It's been a controversy for a while, but the Washington NFL franchise finally made the decision to abandon the "Redskins" nickname and logo. I don't remember hearing much about the name, nor that of the Braves or Indians or Chiefs or Blackhawks, when I was kid, but the opponents have gotten louder and louder over the past few years. The arguments are loud on both sides; some people claim "Chiefs" or "Braves" is a term of honor, others argue that logos like the Indians' Chief Wahoo is a racist caricature, some support changing logos but not team names, and some just don't want anything to change ever.

Now that we are living in a second Civil Rights Movement, more of these team names from the national to the local levels are coming under fire. We've already seen the Howell Rebels come into question, and now a petition has been started asking the Toms River School District to change three of the school names.

It's time for Toms River Regional Schools to retire all racially insensitive mascots depicting indigenous Americans, including the Toms River High School South "Indians", Toms River Intermediate School South "Seminoles", and Washington Street Elementary School "Warriors".

According to the petition, there has already been pressure for Toms River High School South to abandon the "Fighting Indians" name, and not only have officials ignored the pressure, they have doubled-down and added two Native American mascots to other schools, the Toms River Intermediate School South "Seminoles" and Washington Street Elementary "Warriors."

At the time of writing this, the petition was about 300 shy of their goal of 1,000 signatures.

This is a more complex issue than I'm really qualified to dive into in a blog. I know the term "Redskin" is a slur, akin to other racist terms that I will not type out. It may not be as severe as some of the others, but I would believe that it's because we sort of got accustomed to it. The name "Warriors" doesn't have a negative connotation, but if the logo or mascot is insensitive to Native Americans, then that is a problem too.

The petition cites other New Jersey school districts like Pascack Valley Regional High School District and Parsippany Troy-Hills School District, as well as colleges like Dartmouth College and St. John’s University, who have already dropped Native American mascots. My own view is that if those schools are willing to drop "tradition" in favor of inclusion, there's no reason Toms River can't do the same.

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