Indeed, a reckoning is here. Thank God.
From international matters of systemic racism in the arenas of law enforcement, criminal justice and equal education to local-specific items like outdated mascots, monuments and money managers, no facet of our daily lives is going to go unchecked. Not anytime soon, anyway, and hopefully never again.
That’s as it should be. It can be painful. It’s often uncomfortable. But these conversations and conversions are called for, and they’re long overdue.
Of course a name like Raiders has no business being tagged to Loudoun County High School students. Generically, perhaps raiders isn’t offensive. But here in Loudoun, as School Board member Ian Serotkin noted, the moniker is a reference to the infamous Civil War battalion led by Confederate commander John S. Mosby, often referred to as Mosby’s Raiders or Mosby’s Rangers.
Andrew Jelonek, a Loudoun County High School alumnus, addressed the School Board Tuesday with these impressions. “No matter what modifications are made to it, the Raiders will always stand for slavery, white supremacy and racism,” Jelonek said. “We believe Loudoun County should no longer glorify this mascot and its ideals.”
Loudoun County Class of 2009 graduate Deirdre Dillon noted, “To be honest, upon learning [the mascot’s basis], it changed my perspective on the school. It caused me to look at it as something that was backwards, old-fashioned and, to be honest, racist.”
It’s important to note an all-white student body selected Raiders as the school’s mascot in 1954 before integration. That alone calls for a reexamination and update from contemporary students and staff at the school.
And then there’s that long-looming, out-of-place Confederate statue in the center of downtown Leesburg, at the steps of the Loudoun County courthouse. We’ve weighed in on the monument on several occasions, but these pages are the place for emphasis: A circa 1908 Confederate statue — a symbol of slavery, of oppression and of, yes, white supremacy — should not be in front of a courthouse, a place that should be unassailable in its cause for justice and equality.
Put it in a museum. Put it in a battlefield with proper context. Be done with this decades-long debate.
We know there will be critics with the familiar refrain that these calls for change amount to erasing history. That rebuttal has never really carried any weight. Just because tokens of the past don’t appear in the plain view of the public doesn’t mean students and historians won’t continue to study, teach and examine the defining moments of civilization.
And as the past few months have hopefully hammered into the heads of many Americans — notably some older white men — simply because something doesn’t offend you doesn’t mean you can roundly declare it inoffensive to society at large.
As we said, it’s not always going to be easy, but we must endure heavy conversations and hard conflicts to see a better, more unified tomorrow.