Having endured two previous School Department “forums” on the Warrior logo, my expectations were not high for last week’s “Warrior Logo Community Forum.”
Somehow, it still managed to disappoint.
For one thing, it was held via Zoom, which hinders participation by the less technically adept while favoring a demographic more comfortable with technology. If you don’t believe Zoom presents a technical roadblock for many people, consider that the forum started almost 15 minutes late because those in charge of running it encountered – you guessed it – technical problems.
Last week’s forum was billed as an opportunity for members of the Wakefield community to offer their input regarding a new logo to replace the old Warrior logo.
As you may recall, the Wakefield community already provided their input at last April’s Town Election. A solid majority said that they wanted to keep the old Warrior logo.
But the School Department does not view elections as a useful way to gather public input. Only Zoom forums that they control can provide the kind of public feedback that they value.
Confirming that the School Department isn’t all that interested in what Wakefield residents want, School Superintendent Doug Lyons explained at the start of last week’s forum that the logo change was “in response to feedback from Indigenous persons in Massachusetts and across the country.”
It’s good to know that nothing has changed in the past 10 months.
Last March, the School Committee assembled a panel of 10 Native American activists from anywhere but Wakefield to tell us how racist our Warrior logo was. (Out of respect for Irish-American culture, that panel was held on March 17 – St. Patrick’s Day.)
The panel of non-Wakefield Native Americans got to expound for an hour and 52 minutes about the evils of using an image of an Indian Warrior as a logo. After that, Wakefield’s Native American Bayrd family got to present their support for the Warrior logo in an eight-minute, pre-recorded video. In education, that’s called “fair and balanced.”
At last week’s Zoom forum, the school employed a rather esoteric methodology for gathering public “input.” A series of questions were posed and after each question, the public was instructed to type their responses in the Zoom “chat” box.
So, assuming you know how to use Zoom and assuming you didn’t give up while waiting for the forum to start and go do something productive, your only option for participating was Zoom “chat.”
The first questions asked people to “share” their “hopes and fears” about the forum itself.
All this may have felt perfectly normal to educators accustomed to teacher professional development sessions. But I was beginning to feel like I was in some sort of bizarre sensitivity training workshop.
One participant feared that Wakefield Native Americans like the Bayrd family would be left out of the process. What, the eight minutes they got last March wasn’t enough?
Participants at last week’s forum were then invited to “share” qualities that they associate with Wakefield High School that could be represented in a new Warrior logo. Once again, you were required to use the very conventional and user-friendly “Zoom chat” to provide your input.
There were a few suggestions that the average sports fan would associate with a team logo, like “strong,” “fierce” and “courageous.”
But one got the impression that there weren’t many members of the Wakefield Warrior football team on last week’s Zoom forum. By far, the dominant suggestions included words like, “inclusive,” “caring,” “respectful,” “compassionate,” “peace-keeper” “welcoming” and, my personal favorite, “part of the global community.”
I can’t wait to watch our new, compassionate and caring Wakefield Warriors on the gridiron, respectfully welcoming opposing players into our end zone.
We’re a long way from the days of Big Jim Landrigan, folks.