Being offended has become one of America’s favorite pastimes in recent years, whether it be about politics, religion, race, sexuality, or mascots. It is unfortunate that an entire community and football team were recently labeled as being racist when what they truly intended to do was show enthusiasm and support for their team (a very good one I might add).
The media coverage of this unfortunate misunderstanding seemed to lack the cultural and historical application of the particular celebration the kids at Wells High School were demonstrating, which has evolved from the same demonstration of team spirit by the fans at Florida State University and those who follow the Atlanta Braves baseball team. The tomahawk chop and other chants have been around for several years. It’s wrong to speculate that any racism was intended by the team or fans of Wells, as they were just being enthusiastic about their football team.
While racism is an ongoing problem in our culture and always will be, the level of it has certainly diminished over the years. There is no evidence of institutional racism in America today. Where there is overt insult to any race group, the insults should be addressed and removed. In this case the use of Native American symbolism was intended to elevate the profile of Native American culture, not diminish it. We would all do well to stop looking for every reason to be offended and celebrate our diversity and individual gifts God has granted us.
John D. Wentworth