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Brother Rice Won't Change Warriors Mascot

The Bloomfield Hills private school — and it's legendary sports teams — won't go by any other name for the time being, despite recent calls for nationwide changes.

 

Brother Rice High School will continue the long tradition of having the 'Warriors' name and logo represent the school in athletics amid some calls for change to the use of Native American tribes and images by schools across the state.

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights announced last week that it sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Education urging for a ban on such use of names and imagery used by high schools. According to the Detroit Free Press, the department said that high school nicknames — such as Warriors — harms students’ education.

"A growing and unrebutted body of evidence now establishes that the use of American Indian imagery reinforces stereotypes in a way that negatively impacts the potential for achievement by students with American Indian ancestry," the department said in a filing to the U.S. Department of Education.

"Continued use of American Indian mascots, names, nicknames, logos, slogans, chants and/or other imagery creates a hostile environment and denies equal rights to all current and future American Indian students and must therefore cease." the Free Press reported.

The federal agency has not formally responded, and it's unclear if they will, as officials did not respond to messages left by Patch this week. It is also unclear if any action it takes would apply to private schools.

However, officials at Brother Rice reviewed their policies after the Free Press story and affirmed their continued use of the traditional mascot, said Ed Shaffer, the school's director of marketing and communications. Shaffer said that President John Birney conferred with legal counsel early this week and determined prior action taken by the school when the first objection came from Michigan Department of Civil Rights in 1989 were appropriate and still apply today.

Following that objection, Brother Rice banned use of an actual student mascot that dressed as a Native American and led cheers during games. The school also developed a deliberate review process for all school-spirit wear to prevent inappropriate images, and committed to improve education of the American Indian culture and history in our social studies and theology classes.

Brother Rice also sent letters to members of the Catholic League that asked for their support in prohibiting banners and cheers that are demeaning to Native Americans.

Shaffer said that Birney also explained in an email to staff that Brother Rice officials do not believe the Warriors logo — an artistic representation of an American Plains Indian Warrior — is demeaning. On the contrary, the school and coaches associate it with positive images of strength, honor and character, and do not find it racist, discriminatory or derogatory in any way, the emial stated.

Shaffer said there were no planned formal discussions on the matter, unless circumstances warrant further response.

What do you think? Should Brother Rice and other schools change their mascots? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Patriot Lawyer February 14, 2013 at 01:06 PM
I agree the use of the term "Warrior" is an honorable thing denoting a positive image. Warriors exhibit strength, honor and character (just like our American armed foces) - charactersistics sorely missing from today's society. It is meant to honor the spirit and is not racist, discriminatory or derogatory no matter what the ignorant among us state. I support Brother Rice wholeheartedly in this matter.
Leslie Helwig February 14, 2013 at 03:14 PM
Aside from the "Warrior" discussion, I'd like to offer a little-known fact about Brother Rice. While traditionally referred to as "Birmingham Brother Rice" and in this article referred to as " the Bloomfield Hills private school," Brother Rice is actually in Bloomfield TOWNSHIP!
Alan Stamm February 15, 2013 at 02:03 PM
I respectfully disagree, counselor. Brother Rice acknowledges that a whooping, war-dancing, tomahawk-holding mascot was inappropriate, but appropriating a proud culture's headdress isn't? Disconnect is the word for that disingenuous straddle. It's not up to John Birney or his school's attorney to decide what's in bounds or an artistic representation of other people. I'm glad Brother Rice's teams aren't called the Fighting Hebes in tribute to my people's strength, honor and character.
Edward Downs February 25, 2013 at 07:10 PM
My son attends Brother Rice and I support their decision. As university of Illinois alumni, I see what this can do to the tradition of a school. It's nonsense....move on. Next thing we will see are animal activist group protesting the use of animal as a mascot. Dont even talk about discrimination. You would think our government officials would have better things to do.

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