Nickname has to go

To the Journal editor:

I was thrilled to learn of the recommendation to change the nickname of Marquette Area Public Schools from “Redmen” to something different.

I moved to Marquette in 1992 and was stunned to see an Indian warrior mascot and learn the name was “Redmen.” I have never heard someone called “Red” as a compliment. In addition, about half the student body are not and will never be “men”; the term “Redette” is diminutive, disrespectful to many.

Many cite “history” as the reason to keep the term “Redmen.” We need to understand history — sometimes to prompt necessary change and move forward. The name derived from the color “Red” that students wore, reflecting the alma mater (Harvard) of a former superintendent. The later addition of the Indian Mascot changed context and meaning. Historically, calling a Native American “Red” was a slur and Native Americans were forcibly moved from their lands in often brutal ways. “Men” reflects the dominant history of male sports. The nicknames reflect a past of race and gender inequities. Is that what we want to honor?

I have some suggestions to honor our history while preventing unintentional slurs. By all means, keep the color red no matter what is chosen — that is history!

1. “Reds” Period. No men or ettes, just reds. I don’t know what a Red is, apparently, not everyone considers this a problem. Given the history of its use as a Native American slur, what native people feel is most relevant. If just one person is offended, let’s find an inclusive term.

2. “Red Sweaters” or “Red Jackets” — that, I believe, is the history of the term.

3. “Marquette Mariners” — that is our history — and there is nice alliteration.

4. “Foxes” The red fox is native to the U.P. — that is our history

5. “Irons” Iron turns reddish when oxidized — that is our history.

6. “Crimson” That is what Harvard students are called. That is MAPS history.

There are countless nicknames and mascots that could be chosen to honor the history of the school, school colors and the history of the area while not offending anyone. Let the student body and community be involved. We can do this!