Marin Voice: Dixie board needs to take leadership on name changeBy ALEX STADTNER |
PUBLISHED: November 7, 2018 at 10:00 am | UPDATED: November 7, 2018 at 3:44 pm
I was in middle school in Texas when I first learned about “Dixie.” As a white middle-schooler in Austin I was mostly shielded from overt racism. One day on a family vacation outside of town I saw a sign with a Confederate flag that read, “Welcome to Dixie, don’t let the sun set on your black ass!”
I first thought it a funny sign. But my parents’ tone quickly changed and they took the opportunity to educate me about the history of slavery and oppression in Southern states.
In high school there were some racist kids for sure. They wore little rebel flags on their hats and backpacks, and some would brag about beating up gays and minorities. These kids weren’t to be messed with. They were to be feared – especially for kids of color.
Around the time the Rodney King tapes were released, or maybe it was when the officers were acquitted, I have a vivid memory of these same bullies jumping a black kid. When he was bloodied and on the ground one sneered, “this is Dixie, not Africa!” As the bullies fled the scene I was left with a pit in my stomach.
When you strip it down to its essence I believe this is fundamentally an issue of racial justice. I agree with Superintendent Jason Yamashiro; “Dixie” has the direct connotation of the Confederate South.
That same ache resurfaced twice recently. One morning driving through our neighborhood I saw signs that read “Keep Dixie, Dixie.” To me it was a dagger in the heart of inclusion and welcoming spirit. A symbol of racism and division popping up across my neighborhood. Gulp.
That evening at a Dixie School District board meeting I got another dose. Many spoke about how “Dixie” symbolized racism, segregation and hate. One black resident said that seeing the signs felt to him like burning a cross on his front lawn, and as he walked back to his seat a sign was aggressively waved in his face. Ugh.
The mayor of San Rafael spoke eloquently about why he believes the name should change, as did previous school board members, parents, a student, and a heart-wrenched teacher.
On the other side arguments mainly circled around allocation of staff time and district dollars. At present, the two biggest concerns are: a) the name itself is extraordinarily offensive; and b) some don’t want the district to spend “a single penny on this stupid issue.”
The board has discussed a non-binding resolution for a community election in 2020. This unfunded, can-kicking measure would be a lose-lose for our community. Bringing our local history of institutional racism and segregation into the national spotlight, and building to a crescendo of division on Super Tuesday. See the full article HERE
Editor's Note: This Dixie School name change issue will be with us for awhile. We will publish thoughtful articles from both sides of the issue.