Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A conversation worth joining: sad signs of insensitivity in Marin

The Pacific Sun's latest "Heroes and Zeroes" column mentions the invitation for a Tam High reunion that prominently features the school's former "American Indian" mascot on a wanted poster. That mascot was replaced a while back because it was recognized as insensitive to Native Americans, among others. Using an "Indian" on a wanted poster may have been tasteless enough, but what really worries me is that the writer of the column, Nikki Silverstein, has gotten absolutely appalling criticism for it.

People are defending it because it was "part of their history." As Nikki has responded, we could use that same basis to bring back such "charming" icons as "Little Black Sambo." (The comments publicly on are disturbing. Some comments made by Nikki's "friends" on Facebook are even more so.)

I wrote a letter to the editor citing "charming traditions" that could be "celebrated" using the same rationale, like the "exclusive" seating area at lunch for African-American students at the high school I went to, or the fire department in a rural Maryland community that blocked any minorities from applying, in honor of their town's history of KKK activity.

It might be nice if others would join the conversation and help educate these "history buffs." Visit to submit comments for the web site or letters to the editor for possible publication. As I said in my comments, there are ways the old mascot could have been used without being offensive, but the wanted poster -- and its defenders -- are just plain wrong.

Columns - Friday, July 23, 2010

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Hero and Zero


HERO: The sudden onset of vertigo incapacitated Eric Overholt last Saturday as he walked home from the Marin City Library. Barely able to stand, he grabbed onto a street sign. A woman waiting at the nearby bus stop took his number and contacted his wife. She then gave him water and found a man to help her get Eric over to a bench. The pair waited with him until his wife arrived. Although Eric doesn't have their names, he wants to thank the kind people who assisted him. "For all the bad press Marin City receives, I am glad that I live in a community where strangers are still willing to help others," said Eric. We couldn't have said it better ourselves.

ZERO: What happened to progressive, tolerant Marin? Last week, a former San Marin High student and his friend allegedly committed a hate crime by spray-painting racist graffiti on school walls. This week, an invitation to the Tam High Class of 1980 reunion came our way—the invite uses an image of the school's now-banned American Indian name and mascot—posted onto an Old West "Wanted" poster of all things—as well as a sexed-up caricature of a female Native American. We hope this insensitivity doesn't become a weekly occurrence in our fine county.—Nikki Silverstein

Posted via email from Doug's posterous

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