Native American activist pushing for Gaston County schools to ch - | WBTV Charlotte

Native American activist pushing for Gaston County schools to change mascots

Shawn Greeson, a Native American activist from Charlotte, has recently made a push to do away with mascots at some local high schools. (Source:WBTV) Shawn Greeson, a Native American activist from Charlotte, has recently made a push to do away with mascots at some local high schools. (Source:WBTV)
GASTON COUNTY, NC (WBTV) -

Shawn Greeson, a Native American activist from Charlotte, has recently made a push to do away with mascots at some local high schools.

Greeson, who formerly ran for elected office in Mecklenburg County, wants to see South Point High School and East Gaston High School do away with their mascots. Greeson says there are no political motivations behind this recent effort.

He said that he believes the South Point ‘Red Raiders’ and East Gaston ‘Warriors’ depict Native Americans in a fashion that is offensive.

“It’s not just the mascots, it’s the behaviors associated with the mascots,” explained Greeson in a recent interview with WBTV.

Greeson sighted the chants students use at football games as well as the costumes students sometimes wear to look like Native Americans as offensive behavior.

The activist recently sent a complaint to the Gaston County School Board regarding his mascot concerns.

Board member Chris Howell then posted the complaint on Facebook, a move Greeson deemed inappropriate.

“I learned about it after I started getting hateful messages out of the blue,” said the activist.

Howell told WBTV in an email that he posted the complaint on Facebook so that members of the public could request clarification from Greeson regarding the issue. The school board member said he does not think the mascot names need to be changed. An excerpt from Howell’s response to WBTV can be read below.

I believe that there is a way to have Native American depictions as mascots that is not offensive.  I believe the many schools that embrace these mascots do so with an intention of honoring the culture and heritage of Native Americans.  IF there are school traditions or nuances that are not honoring to the culture then these should be looked at on a case-by-case basis. 

Megan Bullock, a South Point graduate, said she could understand both sides of the debate. She said that when she was a student at the school, the mascot wasn't something she considered offensive.

"I didn't think much about it then after I graduated, I thought back like oh maybe that could've been offensive," she said.

A former South Point teacher, who wished not to reveal his identity, said he doesn't see why the mascot bothers some people.

"It’s a tradition that’s been around here forever and we’ve got a lot of pride in it," he stated.

Greeson said he has a plan of action for getting the mascot names changed, but wouldn’t go into detail.

“The mascots are going to change-whether it’s a year from now, or four years from now. The mascots are going to change whether they like it or not.”

Todd Hagans, Gaston County Schools Chief Communications Officer, said there are currently no official agenda items to address mascots in the school system. He said the school board meets Monday night and there are no members of the public signed up to speak about the topic. 

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