It’s about time: Edgewood attempts to remove Indian mascot

Sophia Bailly, Editor in chief

Racial reckoning has engulfed the nation in recent months, as outrage regarding police brutality has led myriad Americans to call for defunding the police. Mainstream companies and organizations have taken to social media to “stand in solidarity with the Black community.” It can only be assumed that these organizations are doing so as a way to say, “Look, we did something.” It’s as if big-name organizations are using the Black Lives Matter movement as an opportunity to gain public recognition. In comparison, certain brands — such as “Aunt Jemima” and “Uncle Ben” — are recasting their products to no longer depict remnants of slavery and segregation. The National Football League and National Basketball Association are also under fire as more athletes partake in silent protests. The sympathetic promises to “make things better” from the CEOs and managers are laughable at best. 

The national response to the racial outcry is polarizing and attention-grabbing. But what about responses on the local level? The national news takes precedence in the eyes of many Americans; but local current events are equally — if not more — important. And after years of celebrating its racist and unnerving Indian mascot, Edgewood Jr./Sr. High School is closer than ever toward righting a wrong. And it’s about time.

Edgewood parents received letters on Aug. 27, notifying families that “a review committee made up of students, teachers, administrators and community members unanimously agreed to change the mascot,” according to Florida Today.

For years the school has faced backlash for its offensive mascot. In February 2016, former “Roar” opinion-page editor Sergio Carlos wrote a column calling out Edgewood for its mockery of Native American heritage. The opinion piece was valid in every which way. And how did Edgewood respond? With silence — until now.

It took a racial uprising in America for the school to correct a mistake that should never have been made in the first place.

The end of the Native American ridicule has been delayed, however, after Brevard County School Board Vice Chairman Matt Susin announced his plans to pause the mascot replacement. During a school board meeting Thursday, Susin cited the need to develop a school board policy for the drastic shift in school dynamic. The need for a policy is understandable, seeing as a school’s decision to replace its mascot is unprecedented in Brevard County. But does Susin want to be known as the school board member who halted progress — especially as the community resentment toward Edgewood’s current mascot resurfaces to a record high? Edgewood came so close to removing an offensive icon that plagues its campus. And because there’s no set policy for a mascot change, Susin and the school board stand in the way of reparations. To emphasize his supposed non-partisan stance on the school board, Susin neither confirmed support nor opposition to the mascot change, but rather stressed the demand for an established policy. Susin said finalizing a procedure could take “a couple of months,” according to Florida Today

But patience has worn out, and the Native American legacy deserves better. Edgewood has the chance to be on the right side of history. And Susin and the school board stand in the way.