Last week I promised to get into the four big issues facing California and the nation – while side-stepping the “hair on fire,” keep-everyone-riled-up-over-culture-wars stuff. And I will.
But this Hart Indian mascot thing just begs some solid closure. And here it comes. The Last Word.
Against the odds and expectations, last week the Hart board moved to retire the Hart Indian mascot (which by now has been reduced to the letter H with two feathers).
The Signal saw dozens or more letters making all sorts of defenses for keeping the race-based name: “It’s our culture and tradition.” “It’s always been that way.” “William Hart would have wanted it this way.” “Indians don’t care.” “The libs are cancel culturing our proud heritage.”
If this sounds similar to current issues with the Confederate flag, it’s because it is: One side refusing to see what is obvious to the rest of the world. White guys not getting past their long-running old ways of looking at things — through their eyes only. It’s hard to see clearly when there’s a mote in your eye… And it’s hard to understand another until you’ve walked (Hart-appropriate metaphor) a mile in his or her moccasins.
Look, let’s cut to the quick on this and move on. The issue isn’t about “Cowboys and Indians.” “Cowboy” is a vocation. “Indian” is a race. That’s the big difference and the only difference that really matters. We don’t even have to discuss whether the word “Indian” is pejorative or neutral. Doesn’t matter. The word “Indian” is the race name currently used to represent the race of native peoples all over America and our hemisphere. Cowboys, Packers, Steelers – all vocations. “Indians” – are a race. This should be straight up clear.
It’s painfully plain and obvious: In sports, we have White Sox and Red Sox. Blue Jays and Cardinals. Jets and Steelers. Packers. Rockets. Sharks, Jaguars and Bears, oh my! Lots and lots of mascots, and I’m not seeing any straight-up race names picked as team mascots.
It comes down to this: If you want to keep the race name, “Indians,” alive at Hart, then you’ve got to be willing to use other race names for other schools. So, asking forgiveness in advance, roll these names around in your head and measure how it feels:
“Canyon Country Caucasians”
Yeah, if you’re good with this kind of thing, then yes, you get to keep Hart Indians – to yourself. But, if after realizing how unbelievably preposterous the notion of those names are, then you have to also reject the race name, “Indians.” Why is it reasonable that a single race should be singled out for mascot treatment… particularly after we wiped nearly all Native Americans off the face of our continent through some of the most gruesome actions in our nation’s history?
So, farewell to one last vestige of lingering racial emotional unintelligence and unawareness. Welcome to modernity and the excitement of selecting a new, timely, motivational mascot. And there’s plenty to choose from:
I’m placing bets on Hart Hawks. (Hamsters is a non-starter).
Roll “Hart Hawks” off your tongue! Sounds tough. Feels aggressive. Hawks attack with shock and awe! They’re at the top of their food chain. Apex predators. Own the skies. And… they have feathers, just like the old Hart feathers. Make a small tweak to the logo, change the name to “Hawks” and call it good. And conveniently, Hawks call back to native and western culture and, by itself, celebrates a culturally resonant animal that’s both revered and feared.
“Hawks” is a great new fit for Hart.
I like the Hart Hawks. Hawks will scare Vikings. They’ll vex Cowboys. Hawks and Wildcats will make for a fight – but a diving hawk’s talons are mighty fearsome and how can anyone catch a football with a hawk in your face? Hawks are terrifying – and yet are graceful and beautiful, too.
In any case, the matter is settled, and I think the Hart board (less the one who again votes on the wrong side and century of social issues) did a bang-up job of sorting the matter out, filling in for the Indian name with historic exhibits staged permanently around the school, honoring our local Native American cultures and histories.
Santa Clarita got past this, our loudest, yet most obviously solved, culture war.
Now, with our new Hart Hawks put to bed, let’s move onto fixing the real issues of our day… water, weather, fire, COVID. See you next week…
Oh, and “Hart Redhawks” would also work just fine – and the colors already match!
Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.