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06/09/2021 07:00 AM

Where It Ends

“Then where does it end?” exclaimed a fellow gym member as we were returning our weights at the end of a grueling workout. Tired and sweaty, I listened to this fellow North Havener. I knew him as friendly even at the gym and a dedicated father—a sports parent whose son was a well-rounded gentleman whom my stepson knew as a real good kid.

“Where does it end!” he bellowed about the Indians mascot. “We’ll have to be the ‘North Haven Rainbows,’ but that will offend someone, too! We won’t be able to have mascots at all. Just keep it the way that it is!”

That statement was too much to unpack in that moment a few years ago, but I’ve remembered it. I reflect on his words often especially when a young member of the Nipmuc Nation spoke up at the Board of Education meeting about transferring out of North Haven schools after years of bullying over her native heritage.

I found myself thinking: How are you supposed play on teams that use inaccurate and racist language to describe you? How would you be able go to a school where cheap knock-offs of your sacred dress are worn at pep rallies and games? How do you live in a town that sees you as its mascot?

Some folks don’t see the issue yet; minds can change. For those who never saw anything wrong with the mascot before, that’s OK. No one is asking for their personal history to be changed. Their fond memories and high school sports records still belong to them. At the same time, they can admit that it is time to move forward in a direction that makes everyone proud.

Back to the question, “Where does it end?”, simply when human beings aren’t demoralized.

April Capone

North Haven