Fort Smith school board votes to eliminate 'Rebel' mascot, 'Dixie' fight song | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Fort Smith school board votes to eliminate 'Rebel' mascot, 'Dixie' fight song

Posted By on Tue, Jun 23, 2015 at 8:13 PM

click to enlarge REBELS NO MORE: At least, not after 2017.
  • REBELS NO MORE: At least, not after 2017.

What's more surprising than Walmart taking the initiative to remove Confederate flag-themed items from its shelves? Try the Forth Smith School Board voting to phase out the "Rebel" as mascot of Southside High in the 2016-17 school year, as reported by KFSM-5

The TV station says the board also decided that "Dixie" will no longer be the high school's fight song, beginning in the coming 2015-16 academic year.

click to enlarge reb.jpg
The longtime mascot doesn't display overt Confederate symbolism. He's stylized as a dapper Southern gentleman with an oversized hat. He's not threatening. He's cute, in fact — as long as one intentionally divorces him from the context of American history.

But that history is too raw and too relevant to be ignored. Think about what "Dixie" mean to Southside students who happen to be African American, and suddenly it doesn't seem quite as cute to have a "rebel" as a mascot in a public school district that's 11 percent black (and over 50 percent nonwhite).

There's also the fact that the demographics of Fort Smith's high schools reflect the socioeconomic and racial reality of the state, and the nation, in 2015. Southside is 64 percent white and 37 percent low income. Northside, the other high school in Fort Smith, is 27 percent white and 81 percent low-income. (In full disclosure, I very briefly attended Northside for half a semester my senior year.)

The college-going rate at Southside was 64 percent for the 2013-14 school year, and its average ACT composite score was 24. At Northside, the college-going rate for the same year was 30 percent and the average ACT score was 20. There are many, many complex reasons behind those disparities of opportunity and their stubborn persistence over time — and no, removing a mascot won't address them, not in and of itself. But the truth is that on a statistical level, race correlates to income, and income correlates to educational achievement. And the truth is that every ounce of that statistical gap is ultimately rooted in the inequalities inherent in the history of our country. And reckoning with the ugliness of that history is a necessary step towards a society where we can finally say with a straight face that race actually doesn't matter in terms of dictating one's chances in life.

The Fort Smith School Board made a brave move tonight, the right move. Talk about some rebels.

People are already getting upset, unsurprisingly. And other Arkansans are saying, rightfully, "it's about time":

click to enlarge capture.jpg


PS: By the way, Fort Smith isn't the only district in the state with a rebel mascot

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (32)

Showing 1-32 of 32

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-32 of 32

Add a comment

More by Benjamin Hardy

  • Senate bill imperils rural health care, hospital leaders warn

    In the four years since Arkansas chose to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, Harris Medical Center in Newport has seen its “bad debt” — bills left unpaid by patients — cut in half. Eight percent of the 133-bed hospital’s patients fell into the bad debt category in 2013, the year before Arkansas created the hybrid Medicaid expansion program known as the private option (later rebranded by Governor Hutchinson as “Arkansas Works”). Today, that figure is 4 percent, according to Harris Medical Center CEO Darrin Caldwell.
    • Jul 13, 2017
  • Beyond repeal of Obamacare

    The proposed Medicaid cuts in the new U.S. Senate bill could impact coverage for 400,000 Arkansas children.
    • Jun 29, 2017
  • Study: Arkansas tops nation for percentage of rural children on Medicaid

    Almost two-thirds of children in Arkansas’s small towns and rural areas receive health care coverage through Medicaid, according to a report released Wednesday by researchers at Georgetown University and the University of North Carolina — the highest percentage of any state in the nation.
    • Jun 7, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation