KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Kalamazoo Central High School refused to use the word “Redskins” while announcing Monday’s baseball game against Paw Paw.
“We have Native American students who attend Kalamazoo Public Schools and are sensitive to those who might be offended by the word,” a district spokesperson said in a statement.
The game was held at Kalamazoo Central’s Derek Jeter Field. The Maroon Giants won.
Before the game, about 25 protesters lined up near the field, carrying signs that read “Native Americans are not mascots,” and “Redskin means murder,” among other things.
Protesters told 24 Hour News 8 they were heartened by the decision not to announce Paw Paw’s mascot.
“I’m actually happy,” protester Linda Cypret-Kilbourne said. “I hope that all the schools, the school districts all over Michigan that are playing these schools with offensive mascots and logos and nicknames and stuff refuse to announce them.”
“Every time the word is mentioned or it’s displayed where anyone can see it, it’s harmful,” added fellow protester Julie Dye.
After months of heated debate about the Redskins mascot, Paw Paw Public Schools decided in February to keep it. Those who support the name say it’s tradition and not malicious. Opponents say it’s a racial slur.
“The name ‘Redskins’ is probably the worst insult you could ever give a Native American,” Cypret-Kilbourne said. “We compare it to the N-word.”
Paw Paw Public Schools Superintendent Sonia Lark provided this statement to 24 Hour News 8 Monday night:
“We are very proud of our student athletes from Paw Paw and their performance on and off the field. The district understands and respects the rights of others to express their opinions on the use of the Redskin name, but we do not condone protest behavior that is distracting and disruptive to high school athletics.”