Nobody wants to be treated “differently”
Reader wants Boyle mascot changed

Published 1:04 pm Monday, August 24, 2020

My name is Charlotte Pollard. I graduated from Boyle County High School in 1968. I was excited that the county had built a new school that included young people from all over the county. When I arrived, I learned we would be called Rebels. I envisioned James Dean. Instead, what I found as a mascot was an old man with an outdated mustache in the rumbled uniform of a Confederate soldier. I remember laughing at the silliness of it and wondering why anyone would be afraid of soldiers who lost a war. But then, Danville High School was called Admirals, and we were nowhere near an ocean.  I was a good girl, someone who wanted to fit in, so I went along with the silliness of it. I even became a cheerleader and cheered us on!

School integration in the United States (also known as desegregation) had just started. The school had around 400 students at that time and probably less than 25 were African Americans. I remember only two as being Hispanic. The following is just one of several stories in my life that taught me a good lesson in how we treat each other. In Mr. Parson’s Anatomy and Physiology class, we sat in assigned pairs. My teammate was an African American girl. We reviewed our assigned work and dissected several different critters together as a team. Two years later, in the week leading up to graduation, I saw her with two of her friends talking in the hallway in between classes. She saw me, broke off from her conversation, and approached me. She told me she wanted to tell me something. In the softest voice, she said, “I want to thank you for never treating me differently.” I don’t remember her name, and I’ve never seen her again. But, I have never forgotten what she said. It took several years for me to truly understand what she meant.

I have lived in all four corners of the United States—the Southeast, the Northeast, the Southwest and now the Northwest. I have traveled to 38 countries around the world. People of prejudice regarding race, gender and class, clearly visible or quietly hidden, are present in all countries. The United States is not exceptional in this regard. I have seen over and over again what it does to a person when they are “treated differently.” Whether this treatment is an unconscious or conscious act, the fear and pain experienced is real.

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I naively believed prejudice in my country was gradually waning and would maybe disappear by the time I died. However, the last four years have shown blatantly and loudly how naive I still am. The breaking point for me was Charlottesville, NC in 2017. You remember—where a young woman was murdered by a young man, and some old man tried to explain it away by stating, “(There were…) some very fine people on both sides.” For me, that was the moment when the Confederate flag was merged irrevocably with the Nazi flag. My father is a WWII veteran. He was appalled as a boy when the KKK was holding night meetings in farm fields near his home and in the 1930-40’s by what he experienced in the war. He would have been appalled at what is happening at this point in history. Before Charlottesville, I thought they were just two flags that represented two groups of people who lost political power for good reasons. Now, ask yourself—what exactly do they have in common? The answer is no longer inexplicable. Symbols do matter. They announce to the world what we as a people, as a community, and as a nation stand for and stand against.

There are many raptors and mammals that signify courage and power. Their motives are survival, not cruelty. However, as far as we know, they don’t feel maligned when chosen to represent sports teams. Changing the name and mascot of a sports team is a very small gesture for Boyle County High School to announce what it truly stands for and stands against—love or hate, kindness or cruelty, justice or discrimination. What’s wrong with: “you shall love your neighbor as yourself”? Nobody wants to be treated “differently.”

Charlotte Pollard

BCHS Class of 68