4A - Thursday, February 21, 2013
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
4A - Thursday, February 21, 2013 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom
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E-MAIL. CONOR Nr CTCA( UMICH.FDU
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
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Ann Arbor, MI 48109
and ADRIENNE ROBERTS MATT SLOVIN
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS MANAGING EDITOR
EDITOR IN CHIEF
Oramge y~ou 9Ad j
Flint is ours, too
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board.
All other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Racism in disguise
Abolish offensive American Indian mascots locally
n Feb. 14, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights filed a
complaint with the U.S. Department of Education calling
for an end of the continued use of American Indian mas-
cots, slogans and imagery in 35 public schools across the state of
Michigan. The MDCR cites new evidence revealing the negative
effects on the learning environments of students as the reason for
requesting federal intervention against these schools. Although
intentions of the MDCR are correct, bringing in the federal govern-
ment is an overreach. This issue should be dealt with at the commu-
nal level to ensure that the education of students, who had no role
in choosing which mascot their school uses, is not held in jeopardy.
From team names like the Redskins to the
Indians, the continued use of American Indi-
an imagery in athletics is racist. Elementary
and secondary public schools shouldn't be
purveyors of racism. Evidence suggests that
mascots like these can ostracize American
Indian students, making them feel uncom-
fortable in their own school. Furthermore,
these symbols perpetuate stereotypes, which
can to impact academic performance. Com-
pared to the larger and more egregious mani-
festations of racism throughout the world,
these problems may seem small, but this is no
reason for inaction.
However, at the heart of this issue are indi-
vidual communities, and therefore, a solution
should come from the local level. The MDCR
included Chippewa valley High School as
one of the schools who use Native American
symbols, requesting they lose federal funding
if they don't change their mascot. However,
in 2008, the school's mascot, Big Red, was
changed from an American Indian's profile to
a red bird. This is just one example of Michi-
gan schools and communities taking actions
to remove these symbols on their own. A rush
to make this a federal case without first work-
ing with local schools to help ease a transi-
tion from traditional mascots to less offensive
ones will blunt the focused attention this
The call to bring in the federal government
on this issue has the potential to negatively
impact students. Taking federal funds does
little to create a positive educational environ-
ment for students who have no say in the cre-
ation of their mascots.
It's up to the communities, who have the
option to petition schools, to take a second
look at the implications of their local mascots
and revise them for the benefit of the com-
Should these communities fail to properly
remove these base mascots, federal involve-
ment could be considered. For now, this
should be seen as a local problem that will
take time, patience and the collaboration of
Rows upon rows of aban-
doned houses, buildings
and factories. More than
one-third of the
reads below a
third grade level.
An average of
more than 2,337
crimes per every
ment rates HARSHA
reachingup to NAHATA
29.6 percent in
It's a heartbreaking place to visit.
You drive past boarded-up house
after boarded-up house. Areas with
no grocery stores in sight - yes,
that's what a food desert looks like.
vacant lots, factories - you name it.
It's the arson and murder capital of
This is all less than an hour away
- in Flint, Mich.
When General Motors was at its
peak, they employed 80,000 people
in Flint. Today, about 7,000. It's the
story of the quintessential dying
manufacturing city. The entire
town functioned around Buick City.
seeing the shut doors of the manu-
facturing plant today, it's hard not
to feel helpless.
There are many misconceptions
that are perpetuated about poverty.
There are those who say a large part
of the country is "dependent;" those
who claim that "poor people" just
need to work harder, that "poor peo-
ple deserve tobe poor."
No one deserves to live in poverty.
It's easy to pass judgment on a
dire situation that you're removed
from. It's easy to say people in these
cities should just work harder, that
they should take ownership over
their lives. They should go to col-
lege or diversify their skill set. That
somehow it's their fault.
But more often than not, the real-
ity is quite different. And it's a real-
ity that doesn't sink in until you've
seen it with your own eyes.
Not everyone has the luxury to
pursue his or her own interests. Not
everyone has the resources or the
opportunity. Sometimes working as
hard as you possibly can still isn't
good enough. And when day-to-day
survival is a battle, there's no time
to prepare for the future. There's
a different dominant narrative at
play in Flint - one that most of us
can't even begin to understand.
Back in the day, the majority of
the blue-collar population in Flint
made a living from the GM plant.
Generations of people grew up
being told that GM would take care
of them. That if they were good on
their feet, clocked in on time and
did what they were told, they'd be
able to enjoy a comfortable life.
They were told to keep their heads
down, work hard and not ask ques-
tions. They were discouraged from
thinking critically or pursuing a life
beyond the plant.
To this day that mentality per-
sists. People in Flint are hanging on
because they've been told to hang
on. They believe this is just another
rough patch. That one day, manu-
facturing will come back and it'll
In the rush to industrialize, we
completely disregarded human
capital. There was a time when
it didn't matter what education
level people had. We simply need-
ed those who had the skills to put
things together and the willingness
to work in the assembly lines. In
fact, we didn't want these people to
get a higher education - we wanted
an unskilled workforce. We cre-
ated the false belief that those jobs
would be around forever.
Then, the jobs got up and left for
Now, we blame these same people
for not "working hard enough," for
not "adjusting to the times." We cre-
ated the situation. And now we're
leaving them to fix it on their own.
And when I say, "we," yes, I mean
all of us.
We all acknowledge how bad the
circumstances are. We all mourn
over the state of the automotive
industry and espouse political
opinions about outsourcing and
American global competitiveness.
of course, we do this from the
safety of our suburban homes and
secure jobs. We talk about these
cities and how bad they are, but at
the end of the day we continue on
with our lives. Or worse, we dis-
tance ourselves - we joke about
We can't pick and
choose the parts of
Michigan we care for.
So, yes, things are bad. But, at
some level, is it really the fault of the
people? Or is the fault our own as we
stand by and allow this to happen?
Not all of you are going to get
up and drive to Flint to help out as
soon as you finish reading. It's okay
- I don't expect you to. The intent
isn't to guilt you into doing some-
thing, but to show you the reality
of the issue in the hopes that it just
might inspire a little bit of empathy
We might not all be able to go
make a difference, but the least we
can do is support those who are try-
ing. We can stop insulting these cit-
ies. We can stop making jokes about
the crime rate in Flint or the gangs
of Detroit. We can stop distancing
ourselves from these problems.
No, this isn't a "Detroit" thing or a
"Flint" thing. They aren't outcast
cities that must be avoided at all
costs. Statements like these make it
that much harder for those who are
working day and night toturn the
cities around. We can stop disown-
ing the cities and the people - for
better or for worse, they're ours.
Maybe it's time to re-evaluate
how we think about these strug-
gling cities. There are a lot of prob-
lems, and, quite honestly, it's hard
to know where to start. But the
spirit of the people is still amazing.
It's heartwarming to see people
who haven't given up - people who
continue to take on the problems
in the hopes that they'll be able to
make it a little better. Flint is still
a city of fighters. And the strength
and spirit of the people remains
- Harsha Nahata can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
the dangers of Detroit or Flint; we
talk about getting out of Michigan.
We're not living it, and even we
don't think there's hope.
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS
Kaan Avdan, Sharik Bashir, Barry Belmont, James Brennan, Eli Cahan, Jesse Klein,
Melanie Kruvelis, Maura Levine, Patrick Maillet, Aarica Marsh,
Megan McDonald, Jasmine McNenny, Harsha Nahata, Adrienne Roberts,
Paul Sherman, Sarah Skaluba,Michael Spaeth, Luchen Wang, Derek Wolfe
LET TE T 11 [01' SENDt
U's Coca-Cola contract
violates Code of Conduct
LETTERS TO: TOTH
fact that corpor
tered the repor
TO THE DAILY: proof that the
I'manalumofthe Universityandapastmem- ty's Code of Co
ber of Campaign to Kick Coca-Cola off Campus. lion contract w
Coke's environmental and human rights abuses After watchi
broke international law, which stands against rights in the e
the University's Code of Conduct for vendors. 2006, it seems
University administration banned Coca- embarrassed f
Cola products for four months in 2006. This lar. It's ironic t
happened one month after the New York recently banne
University ban, which preceded a number of cal grounds, in
other schools across the world. Coke missed a Tea. Will the A
national deadline to comply with an indepen- feel the same
dent investigation that was set by United Stu- now that Park
dents Against Sweatshops. We were part of a Coca-Cola? Put
commission to create a methodology to assess to ask, and wh
Coke's business practices. Was Coke busting another campa
unions by having paramilitary forces murder
Colombian workers? Were they draining and Clara Hardie
poisoning water tables in India? 2006Alum
ns in India and Colombia were
npleted in 2008. Despite the
-ate sponsors of Coke adminis-
ts, many viewed the reports as
vendor violated the Universi-
nduct. However, the $1.2-mil-
ith Coke was continued.
ing NYU stand up for human
ye of international media in
as though the University was
or not doing something simi-
hat a food co-op in New York
d Coca-Cola products on ethi-
cluding Odwalla and Honest
nn Arbor People's Food Co-op
pressure the University did
Slope Food Coop stood up to
a note in their suggestion box
ile you're at it, why not start
ign here at the University?
DALIA ADLER, ISAAC KATZ, JONATHAN MARKOWITZ AND JOHANNA ROTHSEID I
More than a Rock
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@OSU Fine, take Obama
speaker, but dibs on
This past Saturday night, a large,
black swastika was painted on The
Rock on the corner of Hill Street
and Washtenaw Avenue, along
with a series of offensive images
and words targeted toward other
minority groups. What we saw on
Sunday morning was vulgarity.
What we felt was disappointment,
surprise and confusion. Who did
this or what motivated them is
beyond us. But, as the Hillel execu-
tive board, it seemed natural for
us to immediately respond. Spray
paint and paintbrushes in hand,
we chose to not just mask the hate
we saw, but convey a message that
was more emblematic of what our
campus stands for - a message that
deserved to be conveyed to all those
that were exposed to The Rock:
Immediately, we received sup-
port from university students,
organizations and administration.
Both the president of the LSA Stu-
dent Government and the president
of Central Student Government
reached out to us. Dean of Students
Laura Blake Jones showed her
encouragement and many others
demonstrated their commitment
to expecting respect on campus.
We were pleased, comforted and
inspired that campus leaders came
together so quickly after this action
- an action that impacted more
than just our community.
The Rock is a source of pride for
the University. It's a symbol that
unites us, a landmark we guard
when Michigan State comes to
town, a canvas layered with the dif-
ferent beliefs, identities and back-
grounds that comprise the student
body. It's a symbol that depicts how
we live together, how we cooper-
ate together and how we express
ourselves during the four years we
spend on campus. To denigrate The
Rock with a swastika isn't simply an
act against minority groups associ-
ated with the symbol - it's an act
against our campus and the beliefs
that lie at the core of this institution.
Can we attribute the immediacy
of our response to the swastika's
relevance to us? Sure. But what
we felt was a drive to protect not
just ourselves, but also other non-
Jewish students, 'our campus and
Ann Arbor from this message. We
weren't solely acting as Jewish stu-
dent leaders of Hillel; we were acting
as students and individuals desiring
to live in a community where we
can, quite frankly, expect respect.
This is the campus culture we are
trying to build and enhance - one
where students can feel comfortable
to express themselves and build an 4
identity that won't be threatened by
a shameful act of misconduct.
As we discussed the events
together, an essential question
emerged: Would we have acted as
immediately had the painted sym-
bol not been a swastika? In our
daily lives, would we say anythingif
we walked by other offensive imag-
es that didn't directly target us? If
we don't speak up, who will?
It's concerning that acts like
this still happen today. But when
they do, it's more important than
ever that we take a stance against
them. When we painted The Rock
with the words "Expect Respect,"
we made a commitment to honor
that phrase, that mentality and to
promote it throughout campus.
Together, let's begin thinking and
talking about how we choose to
speak up, how we choose to con-
tribute to a community where peo-
ple respect each other and how we
choose to expect respect.
Dalia Adler is a Business junior.
Isaac Katz is a Business sophomore.
Jonathan Markowitz is an LSA junior.
JoHanna Rothseid is an LSA junior.
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