Liz Bruno, WNPJ Board member and member of Groundwork Collective, a WNPJ member group, writes in a letter published in the Capital Times, "We as a society must make a shift to stop these incidents from happening. This is not an isolated incident, but part of a larger pattern of racial and religious xenophobia — less than 24 hours later, a mosque was burned in an arson attack in Joplin, Mo. Since Sept. 11, 2001, we have seen a rise in this type of violence against Sikh, Muslim and South Asian communities." For the entire letter, click here.
Athletic teams at the Menomonie School District in Dunn County will be changing their nickname from "Indians" to "Mustangs," in response to complaints received about the districts use of race-based logos and mascots. School Board President Colleen Davis told Wisconsin Public Radio that, "We knew a complaint was going to come, it was imminent. We had gotten several phone calls saying if the board did not respond in the near future they would just go ahead and file a complaint with the state." Under Act 250, a state law enacted last year, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction is required to review any school district's use of race-based logos or mascots if a complaint is received from a resident of the district. Several Wisconsin school districts have changed their team nicknames since the passage of the law, including the Osseo Fairchild School District, which dropped its "Chieftains" nickname in June after being ordered to do by the DPI.
For WNPJ's 20th Anniversary, a grassroots lobby day was held on February 23, 2011. Information that was developed for the lobby day and for ongoing advocacy regarding Race-Based School Mascots is found below.
Issue Backgrounder: Race-Based School Mascots
Are state legislators trying to remove all avenues for complaints about race-based "Indian" school logos and mascots?
Representative Steve Nass described a bill being introduced by himself, Rep. Andre Jacque and Senators Mary Lazich and Neal Kedzie as "eliminat[ing] the ability of a resident to object to the use of such team names by filing a complaint with the school board or to obtain a contested case hearing." That's from a letter seeking co-sponsors of the bill (LRB -0456/1).
That goes beyond simply repealing Act 250, which allows residents of a school district to file a complaint with the state Department of Public Instruction about race-based logos and mascots. And if it's an accurate description of the new bill, it may leave Wisconsinites no recourse to address important civil rights concerns.
Act 250, which became Wisconsin law last year, is landmark civil rights legislation. It establishes a complaint process for residents of school districts with race-based "Indian" logos.
State Senators Mary Lazich and Neal Kedzie, and State Representatives Andre Jacque and Steve Nass are now reportedly seeking co-sponsors for a bill that would repeal this important law.
Supporters of Act 250 are asking Wisconsinites to call their state representatives and urge them not to co-sponsor this repeal bill (LRB 0456). You can find who your state legislators are and how to contact them online, here.
State Representative Steve Nass (right) has drafted legislation that would repeal Act 250, the law that established a complaint process to address race-based "Indian" mascots and logos in Wisconsin public schools. "The bill also aims to void all orders [to change race-based logos] issued by State Superintendent Tony Evers under the new law," reports the Wisconsin State Journal.
Barbara Munson, of the Wisconsin Indian Education Association and WNPJ's Board of Directors, compared trashing Act 250 with "repealing the Civil Rights Act. ... Wisconsin is at the forefront of this civil rights issue nationwide," said Munson, a member of the Oneida Nation.
"Two Mukwonago residents have filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Public Instruction that challenges the DPI's decision to order the Mukwonago School District to change its Indian nickname and logo," reports the Living Lake Country blog.
"School Superintendent Paul Strobel said the School District is in no way behind the lawsuit and is not funding the lawsuit, which claims the state law allowing residents to file complaints about district logos is 'vague and ambiguous.'"