Editorial Roundup: Kansas

Topeka Capital-Journal. October 15, 2021.

Editorial: Seaman school board has a difficult decision ahead. We believe members must choose to change the name.

The Seaman USD 345 School Board needs to do what’s right, not what’s popular.

Fred Seaman, who the school district is named for, was a known leader of the Ku Klux Klan. As a result, his name has no business being associated with a public school system in 2021. If even one child is emotionally wounded by such a historical dagger, the name should be changed.

At a recent school board meeting, the school district released a report after a months-long study into the name. The report included results of a survey it took gathering opinions of 3,557 people, with 56% of those surveyed being former Seaman students. Of those, 48% advocated keeping the name, 17% supported changing the name, 6% had no preference and 29% had no response.

Among the 47% surveyed who were Seaman parents, 53% supported keeping the name, 12% advocated changing the name, 11% had no preference and 24% had no response, the report said.

Those are pretty strong margins, and the respondents’ feelings should be considered. Strong ties and school spirit are associated with things like this. Nevertheless, we still think change is needed. The district’s school board needs to exercise true leadership and make the potentially unpopular choice for the greater good.

How can we expect our children to do better if we don’t set the example?

Board members acknowledged the strain the controversy has caused, as reported by The Capital-Journal’s Tim Hrenchir.

“It’s awful right now,” said board member and former president James Adams. “The tension is just a nightmare.”

Doing what’s right isn’t always easy. Doing what’s right isn’t always popular.

The Seaman school district has a long and proud history. Does that change with a name? Do the district’s accomplishments fade away with a new moniker? Not in our minds.

We’ve seen other local communities, such as Manhattan and Shawnee Mission, reflect about how their school names and mascots affect marginalized populations. We have a better understanding — or perhaps realization — of how names and images co-opted from Native Americans have racial implications.

A number of schools in Kansas have recognized this and made the needed changes, sometimes to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars.

We think USD 345 should do the same. The name of a leader in the Ku Klux Klan has no business memorialized in our schools.

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Kansas City Star. October 15, 2021.

Editorial: Reid’s ‘all around it’s a tough deal’ is the new ‘very fine people on both sides’

Kansas City Chiefs Coach Andy Reid slapped every one of his Black players in the face this week.

He did that by refusing to say any more about his buddy Jon Gruden’s forced resignation over seven years’ worth of racist, homophobic and sexist emails than this: “I think all around it’s a tough deal. So I’m going to just stay away from that, and I just appreciate the courtesy likewise. There’s nothing to be gained … with my remarks.”

“All around it’s a tough deal” is the new “very fine people on both sides.”

That Reid and Gruden go way back only deepens Reid’s obligation to show some loyalty not only to his former colleague but to the guys who work for him right now.

A true friend says, “I love you, but you were 10 kinds of wrong.”

A true leader says, “I love the guy, but hate what’s expressed in those emails.”

To stay silent about a close friend’s racist tropes, with all that’s going on in the NFL, and in the world, is to try to ride a fence that can’t be straddled, and shouldn’t be.

It’s wrong to say nothing about Gruden calling Roger Goodell a “faggot” and “anti-football pussy” for encouraging the Rams to draft “queers.” Any gay players for the Chiefs can’t feel supported by that dodge.

The NFL goes to great expense to promote itself as enlightened.

But Reid’s appeal for the “courtesy” of no unwelcome questions about subjects at the heart of the league’s problems on everything from race to player safety, which Gruden also mocked, only reinforces the enduring perception that it’s a fraternity of white good ol’ boys who protect each other and answer to no one.

It’s one thing not to want to fill reporters in on the strategy for Sunday.

But it’s a betrayal to decline to say anything except “tough deal all around” about such a flagrant example of the racism, homophobia and misogyny that’s endemic in the NFL.

The players deserve better from their coach, even if Chiefs fans won’t ever demand it.

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