By Amanda Ahadizadeh
This week we had a guest speaker, Rance Weryackwe, who was kind enough to attend our meeting and read his recently published article, “Savages, Settlers, and Slaves.” The primary focus of Rance’s article is our university’s mascot: the Sooner.
At football games, gymnastics meets, softball tournaments, and basically every single other kind of campus activity, we celebrate ourselves by using the word “sooner.” We don’t think of the history of the word when we scream it at the tops of our lungs; we don’t recognize the weight it carries as we wear it proudly on our sweatshirts. We hear “Sooner” and we think of our university, our sports teams, and our collegiate identity. Native American students think of the land run. They think of how land that rightfully belonged to the native tribes was stolen, even against state law, and never returned. Imagine being reminded of such a painful history every time you saw the word “sooner” on the University of Oklahoma’s campus. I mean, how many times a day do we hear “Boomer” followed by “Sooner”? How many people on campus wear their (probably free) t-shirts, proudly exhibiting the word like a badge of pride?
Rance’s article called into question our university’s choice of mascot and pointed out the hypocrisy of it particularly in light of the SAE scandal. In the moment when racial discrimination was finally gaining attention, our campus glossed over this racially charged phenomenon: “You should not have the privilege of calling yourselves ‘Sooners.'”
Of course we all love President Boren, and it makes sense for him to use this word in this context. But why have we allowed this phenomenon to continue? Why have we not yet asked to change the names of our sports teams? Why do we continually perpetuate this racially biased system? Our organization changed our name not because we’re A+ human beings, but because we realized our own ignorance in using that word to represent ourselves. We realized the irony. How can a university attempt to ameliorate itself, particularly in regards to institutional racism, when its very identity is intrinsically supremacist?
Please, read Rance’s article! It’s short, sweet, and to the point. Let us know what you think!