An Open Letter to Arcadia High: Change Your Mascot

As the news broke today that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office stripped the Washington Redskins of their trademarks of their name, the first thing I thought of was not really the Washington sports team, but my high school. I attended Arcadia High School in Arcadia, CA—just outside of Los Angeles, in the San Gabriel Valley. And we were the Arcadia Apaches. 

Our mascot, the Apache, is directly derived from the Southwest Native American Apachean tribes, and our school logo/seal/branding predominantly is made up of an illustration of an Apache (see image for reference).

I’ve never been comfortable with calling myself an “Apache” (but no shit, I’m not Native American so I shouldn’t be calling myself an Apache), but as we can see at the end of this lip dub video made this year at Arcadia High, when asked “who are we,” students are quick and proud to shout, “APACHES!”

No, stop. 

Arcadia High School, it’s time to seriously reevaluate what message you are sending to your students about cultural appropriation—and racism—by continuing to use the Apache as our school mascot. 

This is not the first time someone has questioned Arcadia High’s use of the “Apache” mascot. In the late 90s, Native American Activists threatened to sue the school over the use of the Apache as a mascot, taking offense also to the Pow Wow as the title of the school newspaper. Arcadia High unfortunately decided to continue using the “Apache” as our school mascot.

Today, Arcadia High sponsors an annual charity drive that benefits the White Mountain Apaches, as if that’s enough for it to be okay to continue using the “Apache” as the school mascot. It’s not. Let’s not even think about the fact that using the name of a Native American tribe is offensive to real people, but that this is a clear example of appropriating something that does not belong to this community. Even if members of the community in Arcadia have Native American ancestry are okay with this usage, it does not make it okay. 

It’s amazing to me that with the publicity and attention the Washington “Redskins” have been receiving as of late, this conversation has not yet begun. It’s decades too late, and we need to right this relic of a past time. 

Other schools also use the “Apache” as their school mascot. Vallejo High School in Northern California was one of them, until their school district recently voted to change the mascot from the “Apache,” agreeing “that the name mocks Native Americans.” 

The Vallejo City Unified School District made the right move. It’s time for Arcadia High, and the Arcadia Unified School District, to do the same. 

To all those who will say that we use the identity of the Apache “respectfully” or “to honor” the Native American tribe, I call bullshit. That’s just a thinly veiled excuse for inexcusable ignorance. 

Former Arcadia High School principal Martin Plourde is quoted to have said, ”The reason we keep Apaches as a symbol is that, when you look at these people, who have been through so much… despite it all, they are standing proud… What better symbol for our kids can there be?”

No. 

It is not okay to take someone’s identity from them because it makes for a nice “symbol,” nor is it okay to “repay” the White Mountain Apaches with charity.

It’s 2014. Let’s get with the times. 

This post was published on Wednesday the 18th of June in 2014  /  Permalink

Rest in Power, Yuri Kochiyama

becauseofyuri:

The intersectionality of Yuri Kochiyama’s activism constantly reminds me of the importance of looking across the racial and social boundaries still deeply entrenched in today’s society. Her work taught me the importance of fighting not only the oppressions you may face, but that of others as well—such as how she so fervently stood beside other people of color. She truly was a trailblazer that will continue to inspire generations to come—including that of my own—to inspire all to keep up the fight. 

Alton Wang is a current student at Wesleyan University where he chairs the Asian American Student Collective.

Yuri Kochiyama’s passing is a huge loss for not only the Asian-American community, but this country. Her dedication and activism inspires me constantly. 

This post was published on Tuesday the 3rd of June in 2014  /  Permalink
afamiswhy:

"It’s not fair that I still have been unable to take an AFAm course."#Isthiswhy #Afamiswhy

Our movement is taking off here at Wesleyan. I’ve been fortunate enough to be working with a group of fantastic individuals in support of African American Studies here at Wesleyan.
Check out our Facebook page, and the coverage from USA Today and Middletown Press!

afamiswhy:

"It’s not fair that I still have been unable to take an AFAm course."#Isthiswhy #Afamiswhy

Our movement is taking off here at Wesleyan. I’ve been fortunate enough to be working with a group of fantastic individuals in support of African American Studies here at Wesleyan.

Check out our Facebook page, and the coverage from USA Today and Middletown Press!

This post was published on Tuesday the 13th of May in 2014  /  Permalink
"My other advice is to always keep bringing up AAPIs behind you. Keep the doors open for all. Never have the attitude that you got to where you are simply because of yourself. Leaders fought for and continued to fight for parity for all."
Daphne Kwok, Chair of Obama’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders 
This post was published on Sunday the 20th of April in 2014  /  Permalink

Now This, This is Wesleyan’s Saving Grace

"Why did you come all the way from Los Angeles to Wesleyan for college? Why would you want to go so far away from home?" 

This is a question I get on every single tour of Wesleyan’s campus that I give. Almost always, some parent will think it’s incredulous that I would ever want to give up that Southern California weather into this messy New England winter. Almost always, some student will ask me how I managed to bear through the cold winters. Almost always, I answer, “Seasons. I wanted to experience winter—no also fall and spring—because in LA, it’s always summer.” 

Almost always, laughs travel across the crowd and the tour continues. But every single time this happens, I always wish I had the time to elaborate on not only why I chose Wesleyan, but more importantly, why I’m still here. 

There is not a week that goes by that I don’t wish that I could transfer somewhere else, somewhere where not only is the weather warmer, but the people too.

But I could never leave Wesleyan. 

Growing up, I never learned how to speak. Words came out of my mouth just fine, conversation was easy, but everything I said always felt foreign to me. I laughed along with these peers of mine when I was bullied by them, no matter how painful or scarring the words were.

They were just words, right? Nothing worse. Remember, I was told, so many others face situations much more difficult than you. Words were meaningless and just filled with childish ignorance, they can’t do anything to you. 

Growing up, I never learned how to speak. The words that I begun to use to define myself in my own mind were the ones these bullies threw onto me every day. I laughed along with them, scoffing at my weakness, and took in all the words they used on me. 

Be quiet, so many others face situations much more difficult than you.

Silence will get you through the day. 

I needed to get out. 

My only thoughts were to succeed in school, to get the best grades possible, to open as many doors available and pick the one that takes me furthest away from here. 

And I did. 

From the moment I stepped foot onto Wesleyan, I felt like I had a stake in this place around me, and I felt like I finally had the chance to not let the people around me define who I am but let me define myself.  

I started to realize that when I opened my mouth to talk, people were actually listening. I realized that I actually felt like I was finally speaking for myself, and that the words coming out of my mouth were finally my own, and not anyone else’s. 

Wesleyan gave me back my voice. 

Wesleyan allowed me to be who I am in my entirety, and gave me the opportunity to grow in ways I had never before imagined. The people I was surrounded with consisted of some of the most supportive people I have ever encountered in my life, and they taught me more than I could’ve imagined. 

The remaining fragment from my past that I have not been able to shed is how easily the words of others affect what I think of myself. 

So yes, Wesleyan is a place like any other where horrible things happen. And yes, Wesleyan is a place like any other where we work together to make this school a better place. 

But Wesleyan has given me back my voice, and no matter how hard the fuck you want to try, you’re not taking it away from me this time around.

And for me, that’s Wesleyan’s saving grace. 

I have a decade’s worth of words at my arsenal, don’t you dare try and stop me from using it.

This post was published on Wednesday the 16th of April in 2014  /  Permalink