Redmen/Redettes must go away

To the Journal editor:

When I moved to Marquette only about five years ago, I quickly learned to appreciate its quality of life. I bragged to my friends elsewhere of the Upper Peninsula’s natural beauty, the friendliness of the people, and the quality of cultural activities.

One thing I didn’t mention, though, because I was embarrassed, even ashamed — the nickname of the Marquette school teams.

I’ve heard it said that “Redmen” doesn’t refer to Native Americans but to Harvard connections. For the sake of argument, let’s say that Marquette’s red is equivalent to Harvard’s crimson.

Yet, Marquette chose a Native American person wearing a headdress for its logo and retained that logo for generations; clearly, members of the Marquette community made the quick associative leap from “Redmen” to Native Americans in choosing that logo.

Retiring the logo but retaining the nickname does not erase that affiliation. Just look at the number of people who continue to wear similar images.

Just listen to fans of opposing teams chant such racist slogans as “Scalp the Redmen.” Students who aspire to the status that they believe their current nickname confers will be able to aspire to a new status with a new nickname, just as students who call themselves Ravens or Panthers or Eagles in other districts do.

I have also heard it said that “we” mean to honor “them” with this nickname. I assume “them” means Native American people, but I am confused about the “we.” Does “we” include all members of the community, or only those who aren’t Native American? Doesn’t the school distinct include Native American students? Doesn’t the community include Native American citizens? So who’s this “we”? One thing I’m sure of — I’m not part of that “we.”

Finally, choosing a different nickname would also permit you to include the girls’ teams, rather than deferring to a silly diminutive like “Redettes.”

The girls work just as hard as the boys, are just as competitive and fierce, and they deserve a nickname that acknowledges that.

I’m proud of the many accomplishments of Marquette schools. I’m impressed by the dedication of our teachers and the success of our students. When I’ve had occasion to visit the schools, I’ve been grateful for the professionalism and courtesy of the office staff.

I’ll be very proud when we can admit that “Redmen” is a mistake and choose a nickname that truly does honor all of our students.