Parma City School District
After months of deliberation, Parma Senior High School has elected to keep its controversial mascot, the "Redmen. " Parma Schools superintendent Charles Smialek said the decision doesn't preclude the district from revisiting the conversation in the future, but for now they're standing pat, based largely on student and resident preference.
In 2020, Smialek hosted a series of virtual community meetings seeking feedback on the mascot, in light of nationwide conversations around race spawned by the murder of George Floyd.
The sentiments expressed in those meetings were overwhelmingly opposed to the current name and logo. Representatives from local Native American organizations, current students and alumni all advanced the view that the "Redmen" branding should be retired.
The school board in nearby Cuyahoga Heights unanimously voted to retire
its "Redskins" logo this summer after similar community conversations. And on the professional stage, the Cleveland pro baseball team became the Guardians after decades of opposition from local Native activists to the Indians name and Chief Wahoo logo. Furthermore, national advertisers were growing more hostile to associations with racist brands, given the country's ongoing racial reckoning.
(Parma and Cuyahoga Heights had been the only two schools in Cuyahoga County still actively using native mascots. Ohio remains home to more such mascots
than any other state in the U.S.)
Smialek told local news outlets that after the 2020 community conversations, he discussed the issue with Parma residents and current students and, in contrast, heard overwhelming support. He said he met with more than 30 student-athletes and student leaders, and only one voiced opposition to the mascot.
In both cleveland.com's
and Fox 8's
coverage of the issue, the goalie on Parma's varsity hockey team, who is part Native American, was quoted defending the mascot and saying he felt pride in its depiction of native peoples.
Joshua Hunt, the Vice Chair of the Committee of 500 Years of Dignity and Resistance, appeared on the 2020 Zoom community meetings to voice opposition. He told Scene Thursday that Native American sports mascots like Parma's perpetuate harmful, racist stereotypes.
"Just because someone says they’re okay with harmful, racist stereotypes doesn’t make those stereotypes okay or harmless," he said. "Parma City School District is doing a disservice to its students by teaching them that it’s okay to stereotype and discriminate against an entire race of people."
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