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: , , , , , , , ,


Sign up for the Daily Update email
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

Readers also liked…

  • Former Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel applauds Trump's EPA choice of climate change denier Scott Pruitt

    Dustin McDaniel gives the thumbs up to a man set to dismantle EPA regulations.
    • Dec 8, 2016
  • Trump tariffs hit farmers hard

    Well, the trade war has begun and the early returns for farmers are not good — sharp reductions in the prices for soybeans and corn. You may have heard that Arkansas, which overwhelmingly supported Donald Trump, has some agricultural interests, particularly in soybeans.
    • Jul 6, 2018
  • Trump immigration protest at LR: Quick and fierce

    It was not even 24 hours ago that Sophia Said, director of the Interfaith Center; City Director Kathy Webb and others decided to organize a protest today of Donald Trump's executive order that has left people from Muslim countries languishing in airports or unable to come to the US at all — people with visas, green cards,a  post-doc graduate student en route to Harvard, Google employees abroad, families. I got the message today before noon; others didn't find out until it was going on. But however folks found out, they turned out in huge numbers, more than thousand men, women and children, on the grounds of the state Capitol to listen to speakers from all faiths and many countries.
    • Jan 29, 2017

Most Viewed

  • Which Republican are you going to choose for Arkansas Supreme Court?

    Arkansas voters have a difficult choice in the race in November for Supreme Court justice — incumbent Courtney Goodson or David Sterling, who's using a state job at DHS (wouldn't you like to see his leave records) to run for the office by making the rounds of Republican gatherings. Goodson has her own Republican ties.
  • Judge won't back effort to stop demolition of bridge at Clarendon

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported this morning that a deadline to work out a deal to save the abandoned U.S. 79 bridge at Clarendon had passed with no deal between preservationists and the state. It was no surprise.
  • Lawsuit seeks halt of Interstate 630 widening work, sees link to 30 Crossing project

    A federal lawsuit was filed today to halt work on an expansion of Interstate 630 between Baptist Medical Center and University Avenue because the Arkansas Department of Transportation didn't perform an environmental assessment of the work. UPDATE: The state refused service of the lawsuit, an unusual happenstance that a federal judge might hear about Thursday.
  • More Republicans feel heat on GOP tax deadbeat

    Three weeks too late, Republican Rep. Charlie Collins has announced that his Republican colleague, Rep. Mickey Gates of Hot Springs, should resign from the House and quit the race for re-election because of six pending counts of felony failure to pay state income taxes. Gates, you remember, hasn't paid state taxes for 15 years and has deadbeat the state on withholding payments, too.
  • Batesville schools prepare to arm up

    Batesville is the latest in what is likely to be a long list of school districts opting to put more guns on campus in the hands of staff members who've undergone a state training course. KARK reports.

Most Recent Comments

Slideshows

 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation