Why This Mascot Figure Needs To Be Ended

Why This Mascot Figure Needs to Be Ended 

Peyton O’Laughlin 


Hello classmates! This subject may not be aimed toward a focus of African Americans but is focused around the discrimination and treatment of different ethnic group by the American people, Indigenous Americans. 


I am from Mechanicsburg, Ohio. I went to Mechanicsburg High School, a public high school, and the high school mascot has been the Indians for a very long time, I tried to find out when the school adopted the Indians mascot, but I have been unable to find adequate records. I would assume that the mascot has been the Indians since the 1940’s because of pictures in the high school that depict “The Mechanicsburg Indians Football Team.”  

Recently, individuals in the Mechanicsburg community have been arguing about the school mascot. Some argue that the term Indian is offensive to the indigenous people of the Americas and that the depictions that are used to represent ‘Indians’ as mascots are also racially intolerant and stereotypical. Let me ask you, do you think the Indian mascot is racially intolerant? 

Well first off, the fact of the atrocities that have been inflicted on the indigenous peoples of this land is unfathomably large. Since the discovery of this nation, native groups in the Americas have been subjected to foreign diseases, theft by foreigners, rape of culture, rape of bodies, expelled from their homes, and murder toll that expands to the thousands. By the time Christopher Columbus reached the Caribbean in 1492, historians estimate that there were 10 million indigenous peoples living in U.S. territory. But by 1900, the number had reduced to less than 300,000.1 The death toll of Indigenous individuals from the United States alone are genocidal. 

Using indigenous figures as mascots lead to the perpetuation of stereotypes. In a study done by Justin Angle, University of Montana, when a sports team uses an image of an indigenous figure as a mascot, individuals begin to associate “warlike” qualities with indigenous people because that is a stereotype that is leveraged by sports teams, accordingly, a high school that uses an indigenous figure as their mascot, for sports, would result in the same effects.2 When an ethnic group is perceived “warlike” for reasons like attempting to have the appearance of being fearsome and menacing, then the indigenous people that the mascot is modeled after are then perceived as being more not only fearsome and menacing. If the mascot is associated with a violent sport, The Washington Redskins, and football, for example, them the indigenous people that are modeled for that mascot are perceived as more violent. This perpetuation of stereotypes leads to a bias towards indigenous people in areas such as job applications and housing. In a study done by NPR, they asked “Native American citizens” if they had felt discrimination when applying for jobs, 31% had reported that they, “have been personally discriminated against.” The survey then asked the participants if they felt like they had ever been personally discriminated against by police, 29% reported that “they did feel personally discriminated when interacting with police.”3 

In 2005, the APA called for the immediate retirement of all American Indian mascots, symbols, images and personalities by schools, colleges, universities, athletic teams, and organizations. Research done by the APA found that images, symbols, and personalities of indigenous people have a negative effect on all kinds of students in a learning environment. The APA states that “The symbols, images, and mascots teach non-Indian children that it’s acceptable to participate in culturally abusive behavior and perpetuate inaccurate misconceptions about American Indian culture.” This statement is evidence that the portrayal of indigenous people in educational facilities undermines the educational experiences of all community’s members, distinctly those who have little or no contact with indigenous peoples. On that note, Mechanicsburg High School is predominately Caucasian, the Mechanicsburg Community is predominantly Caucasian, and neither the school or community has a public outreach program to any organization that affiliates to any indigenous groups. Mascots that portray Indigenous figures can also establish a learning environment that is, “unwelcome and often times hostile,” for students of Indigenous heritage. Mascots that present stereotypical images of indigenous people are examples of prejudice by dominant culture against racial and ethnic minority groups and this form of discrimination can lead to negative relations to indigenous groups that are being discriminated against. 4 

When do we say that enough is enough when it comes to racially intolerant mascots like Chiefs, Chieftains, Braves, Redskins, and Indians? I say the line gets drawn when these images, names, and portrayals create toxic learning environments and perpetuate racism and intolerance in our schools. 

People in the Mechanicsburg community will argue that the mascot name isn’t about disrespecting indigenous groups but is to refer back to our rich history. I will not go into the history between the indigenous groups around Mechanicsburg and the individuals that created my town because I do not know the full truth of the events, but I can give suggestions for new mascots that aren’t racially insensitive and that are equally representative of Mechanicsburgian history than Indians. 

Suggestions for alternative Mechanicsburg High School Mascots5: 

1) It is said, from the history of our town, that one of the men that founded Mechanicsburg, Captain Culver, was a mechanic, that is where Mechanicsburg gets its name from. So, a possible change of the mascot could be to the mechanics or a term that is synonymous with the title mechanic is Engineer. Being the Mechanicsburg Engineers would be a triumphant change because the term isn’t offensive to ethnic groups and an engineer can be a fierce mascot. Engineer as a mascot is also fairly rare which add originality to the mascot while incorporating historic significance. 

2) In the 1850’s, Mechanicsburg became a hub for railroad commerce. Farmers from Mechanicsburg were shipping their toil all over the United States. We could change the mascot to the Mechanicsburg Locomotives. Mechanicsburg also assisted runaway slaves to freedom during the times of the Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad had no literal trains but being the Mechanicsburg Locomotives could be a reference to the towns history of assisting an enslaved people to freedom. Instead of our mascot refer to an ethnic group, it refers to a shining moment in our town’s history. 

3) James Roy Hopkins was a famous painter that graduated from the Mechanicsburg High School back in 1895. James Hopkins excelled in artistry and his main focus of work featured individuals from the Midwest United States. In 2017, The Springfield Ohio Museum of Art did an exhibition on the artwork that was created by Mr. Hopkins, the exhibition was titled “Faces of the Heartland” because all the individuals that Hopkins painted were from the heartland (Midwest US). A possible change of mascot could be from the Mechanicsburg Indians to the Mechanicsburg Heartlanders, a tip of the hat to an exceptional Mechanicsburg citizen that related his life to the arts. Wouldn’t it be great for a school to show that it not only cares about advancing the physical and intellectual prowess of its students but that the school also incorporates an appreciation for the arts?6 7 

Once again, these are only suggestions that I could create after looking into the history of my town. Naming the mascot for Mechanicsburg High School the Indian might have been socially acceptable a long time ago, but it is far from acceptable today. It is and will forever be racist and it is time to retire the Indian mascot from Mechanicsburg. 

Racial Bias in Drug Arrests & Effects

Racial Bias in Drug Arrests & Effects

Peyton O’Laughlin

On April 27, 2018, the city of Seattle filed a motion with the Seattle Municipal Court to vacate convictions and dismiss charges for marijuana possession. The motion is only set to assist those who were prosecuted by the city of Seattle between the years of 1997 to 2010 but, if approved, would change the record of about 540 citizens.

This short article made me think about what social media has been yelling for the past few years, “If weed becomes legal in a state, then all those who were imprisoned for possession of marijuana should receive freedom.” I’m paraphrasing, but I see a post that is similar to that every week. There is no argument to be had about this subject. If a state legalizes the recreational use of marijuana then those individuals that were imprisoned, solely for the possession or use of marijuana, should be freed.

Let’s look at some number (following statistics are from DrugPolicy.Org):

  • The number of arrests in 2016 in the U.S. for drug law violation reached 1,572,579 (84% of these arrests that were for possession only: 1,249,025).
  • Number of people arrested for a marijuana law violation in 2016: 653,249 (89% of those charged with marijuana law violations who were arrested for possession only: 574,641)

Over half a million individuals were arrested for only possessing some amount of marijuana. These individuals, if charged deserve freedom, if legalization occurs. These numbers are the result of the war on drugs and mass incarceration.

Drug Sentencing Disparities according to NAACP.org:

  • African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately 32% of the US
    population, but they comprised 56% of all incarcerated people in 2015.
  • In the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 17 million whites and 4 million African Americans reported having used an illicit drug within the last month.
  • African Americans and whites use drugs at similar rates, but the imprisonment rate of African Americans for drug charges is almost 6 times that of whites.
  • African Americans represent 12.5% of illicit drug users, but 29% of those arrested for drug offenses and 33% of those incarcerated in state facilities for drug offenses.

The numbers don’t lie. African Americans are more likely to be arrested for possession/use even though African Americans and whites use drugs at a similar rate. These facts should come as no surprise, but it’s always good to look at the numbers and realize that discrimination is still largely a threat to the lives of people of color and white privilege is far from gone.

To wrap up this piece, I want to look at some other statistics that are presented from NAACP.org:

  • A criminal record can reduce the likelihood of a callback or job offer by nearly 50 percent. The negative impact of a criminal record is twice as large for African American applicants.
  • Infectious diseases are highly concentrated in corrections facilities: 15% of jail inmates and 22% of prisoners – compared to 5% of the general population – reported ever having tuberculosis, Hepatitis B and C, HIV/AIDS, or other STDs.
  • In 2012 alone, the United States spent nearly $81 billion on corrections.
  • Spending on prisons and jails has increased at triple the rate of spending on Pre‐K‐12 public education in the last thirty years.

Not only are black citizens more likely to be imprisoned than white for drug possession, if marijuana is legalized and these individuals are freed through legislation then they are less likely to acquire a job and they have been in proximity to a large concentration to infectious diseases.



EndPlay. “Seattle Files Motion to Vacate Marijuana Possession Convictions.” KIRO, 27 Apr. 2018, www.kiro7.com/news/local/seattle-files-motion-to-vacate-marijuana-possession-convictions/739872778.

“Drug War Statistics.” Drug Policy Alliancewww.drugpolicy.org/issues/drug-war-statistics

“Criminal Justice Fact Sheet.” NAACPwww.naacp.org/criminal-justice-fact-sheet/.

Lynchings Near Home and Connections to Wells

Lynching’s Near Home and Connections to Wells   

Peyton O’Laughlin  


In February, while on social media, I came across a post about a young black man from the late 1800’s. The man was accused of raping a white woman and the price he paid was with his life. The significance of the tale of this is that this lynching happened about fifteen miles from my home and is one of two lynching’s that occurred in this area.  

In June of 1897, in Urbana, Ohio, Charles “Click” Mitchell, pleaded guilty to the rape of Eliza Gaumer. The night of June 4, 1897, Charles Mitchell was then placed in the local Urbana jail and would be soon transported to the state penitentiary in Columbus Ohio. Reportedly, local citizens had caught the attention of Mitchell’s crime and a mob formed around the courthouse where the trial was being held. Later, before Mitchell could be transported to Columbus, the mob surrounded the local jail, battered the doors with sledgehammers and attempted to seize Charles Mitchell. In order to protect the jail, the local, national guard or “militia” opened fire on the crowd and killed two men and injured eight men. Mitchell was seized by the mob, beaten to near death, and then hung in the courthouse square.   

First, I want to distinguish the size of the mob. The reports vary in numbers. Some articles claimed there were hundreds of citizens in the lynch mob, one article claimed there to be about 1,500 people. Regardless, we can assume there was a large number of citizens in this mob. Second, I want to distinguish the hanging. I was very censored with the description. One article I found describes the incident of Mitchell’s hanging in extreme detail. All I can say is that this incident was very barbaric, at one point during the attack on this man, men in the mob struck him with hammers and clubs. The article states, “Men hacked at it [Mitchell’s Body] with clubs and hammers, and when the body was taken down and laid in the grass, it was almost unrecognizable.” To describe the events after the lynching, The Indianapolis News stated, “The mob refused to part with the victim, and claimed him as a spectacle to be viewed all day.  When the sight-seeing was over the rope was cut into bits and passed around.  The bark on the maple tree was stripped beyond arm’s length.  Then to get keepsakes of the affair, the dead man’s clothes were cut.  First, his tan shoes, then his black socks were taken, then snip by snip pieces were cut from his trouser legs and coat.” Charles Mitchell was made a spectacle of and pieces from the incident were taken as mementos.  

I was able to make connections between the incident to Ida B. Wells, Southern Horrors. In Chapter 2 of Southern Horrors, Wells goes through the subject of black men that are accused of raping white women. The chapter begins by explaining how a minister’s wife from Elyria, Ohio accused a black man, of rape. The wife told her husband that a black man broke into their house while the minister was absent. The man was caught and the courts found him guilty after he pleaded that he wasn’t. After the man had already served four years in the federal penitentiary, the minister’s wife confessed the truth of the incident. The wife had met the black man at the post office, he was polite to her, and after courting her, he made a proposal, presumably about sexual relations with the minister’s wife, and she readily consented. The minister’s wife later lied about being raped because, “the neighbors saw the fellows here,” and, “was afraid that I had contracted a loathsome disease.” Many reports about white women that were allegedly raped by white women ended in lynch mobs taking the law into their own hands. These mobs mainly contained white men trying to make examples of black men about trying to court white women.  

Eliza Gaumer, the woman that accused Charles Mitchell, was a widow in her mid-forties and was described by The Indianapolis News as, “small and handsome and is spoken of by everybody here as a lady of culture and character.” Gaumer couldn’t give her testimony in court because she was “bedridden” and was “compelled’ to give her testimony from bed via the town mayor who was hearing her case. Later, after hearing of the lynching, the son of Gaumer, Charles Gaumer, told the newspapers that, “she received the news of the lynching with every manifestation of satisfaction, but expressed regret for the killing of innocent people at the jail last night.”  Gaumer was described as not being present for either her testimony or her remarks to the newspapers. All of her words were reported by men of the community or family. One paper reported that, prior to the accusations against Mitchell, the two individuals only encountered when Mitchell came to buy milk from Gaumer. It was reported that Gaumer was attacked and raped on a day where Mitchell came to purchase milk from her. The Indianapolis News, when writing about the events that led to the mob, stated, ” There were whispers of scratchings, bitings, and chokings. On the authority of the statement of Dr. Henderson, Mrs. Gaumer’s physician, to an intimate friend, it can be said that part of this story was exaggerated, and also that she will recover from her injuries.” From what I’ve proposed in this post, is it possible that Mrs. Gaumer had invited Charles Mitchell into her home for sexual relations and, out of fear that the neighbors had caught sight of a black man leaving her home had concocted a story where Mitchell had raped her? Is it possible that the citizens of the town had made false claims against Mitchell because of pre-existing notions about sexual relationships between different races?  

I want to quickly discuss another lynching that was juxtaposed to the lynching of Charles Mitchell. The Indianapolis News covered the story of the lynching of Charles Mitchell and brought up a white man, by the name Ullery, who was lynched twenty years prior to Charles Mitchell. Ullery pleaded guilty to raping a young girl. Later, after Ullery’s trial, forty men raided the Urbana jail, captured Ullery, put him in a “box”, and allowed him two minutes to prepare for death. After the two minutes, Ullery was then hung in the courthouse square. His body was unclaimed and later buried in the local cemetery.  

Now that I recounted two different lynching’s, do you believe that the lynching of Charles Mitchell, was based on racism?   

The Lynchings were about twenty years apart, but given the similarities in the crimes that the men were accused of, the fact that both men pleaded guilty to their alleged crimes, and both men were put to death in the same fashion, was the lynching of Charles Mitchell based on racism? When considering this question, please take into account the differences in the sizes of the lynch mobs, the actions taken by the lynch mobs once the individual that they were seeking was seized, and how the individuals were treated after the lynching had occurred.    

I apologize if anyone was offended by this post. I did not intend on offending anyone I was only attempting to shed light on a local, historical event from near my home that involved race.  



Ohio Lynchings: Charles “Click” Mitchell (L. L. Gustafson, Trans.). (n.d.). Retrieved March 20, 2018, from http://www.genealogybug.net/ohio_alhn/crime/mitchell.htm   

Last, A. (1970, January 01). Strange Fruit and Spanish Moss. Retrieved March 20, 2018, from http://strangefruitandspanishmoss.blogspot.com/2014/06/june-4-1897-charles-click-mitchell.html   

Campbell, W. J. (2006). The year that defined American journalism: 1897 and the clash of paradigms [Google Preview]. Routledge. Retrieved March 20, 2018, from https://books.google.com/books?id=iiZGAQAAQBAJ&pg=PT68&lpg=PT68&dq=charles+click+mitchell&source=bl&ots=sTvlcWA0Oh&sig=CRAq0Py0WMxgjYUU2xZDrg8AlfA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwil-57CpfnZAhVIzlkKHeryAKQQ6AEIVzAF#v=onepage&q&f=false   

Middleton, E. P. (1917). History of Champaign County, Ohio its people, industries and institutions(Vol. 1) [Google Preview]. B.F Bowen. Retrieved March 20, 2018, from https://books.google.com/books?id=TdQyAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA1143&lpg=PA1143&dq=ullery+lynching&source=bl&ots=6C1HCoYuv7&sig=t2JreINmPPYBwr71QEhM5ljI0Co&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjQhLz2ufnZAhUBvFkKHVtzBv8Q6AEIOTAD#v=onepage&q=ullery%20lynching&f=false   

Wells, Ida B. (1892) Southern Horrors. Lynch Law In All Its Phases (n.d.) The New York Age Print  

The Civil War Fairy Tale

The Civil War Fairy tale 

By Peyton O’Laughlin 

On Monday, February 12, 2018 the Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, delivered remarks at The Abraham Lincoln Foundation Of The Union League Of Philadelphia’s Annual Lincoln Day Celebration. 

During the deliverance, Sessions stated that, “Though many Southerners try to say otherwise—and I love my people—slavery was the cause of the war. It was not states’ rights or tariffs or agrarian versus industrial economies. Those issues were all solvable and would have been solved. The cloud, the stain of human bondage—the buying and selling of human beings—was the unsolvable problem and was omnipresent from the beginning of the country.” Sessions followed up that comment by saying, “And the failure, the refusal of the South to come to grips with it—really to actually change this immoral system of enslavement—led to the explosion,” and, “As to slavery, it had to end. The nation could stand the disgrace no longer. And Lincoln came. And the war came. Lincoln’s moral and legal clarity, like that of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s a century later, produced the will, the power, which sustained the war and propelled the nation to union and emancipation. This was a monumental conflict indeed.” 

From the context of the remarks that were given by Sessions we can defer that he means that the disgraceful and immoral actions that were being taken by slaveholders and slaveholding states was the reason that The Civil War began. 

We know, from our class content, that this is not entirely true. In the beginning of the war, The North’s intention was not freeing the slaves and we know that Abraham Lincoln only considered freeing the slaves when it became beneficial to him in winning the war. This is evident because Lincoln tried many strategies to prevent a war. Strategies that involved gradual emancipation, which still incorporated slavery, and even persuading black individuals into moving to Africa. 

This brings us back to the discussion to how slavery in the United States and The Civil War is portrayed in the U.S. and how we, as Americans, have constructed a fairy tale in our nation’s history. 

The fairy tale consists of the valiant and righteous North, led by the awesome Abraham Lincoln, saw the evils of slavery that the immoral South were partaking in and by God’s Grace needed to stop those evils forthwith, but in actuality we had two racist armies fighting over representation, white labor, and white supremacy. Yes, the war did eventually involve freedom to slaves, but this wasn’t moral, this was again strategy. 

Sessions and other just perpetuate the idea of The Civil War Fairy Tale, which is another form of American whitewashing of history. We, as the citizens of this nation, need to be able to look back on our history with honesty and realism. We need to stop living in a fairy tale. 



Attorney General Sessions Delivers Remarks At The Abraham Lincoln Foundation Of The Union League Of Philadelphias Annual Lincoln Day Celebration. (2018, February 12). Retrieved February 13, 2018, from https://www.justice.gov/opa/speech/attorney-general-sessions-delivers-remarks-abraham-lincoln-foundation-union-league  

Bedard, P. (2018, February 12). Southerner Sessions: ‘Slavery’ alone caused the Civil War. Retrieved February 13, 2018, from  http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/southerner-sessions-slavery-alone-caused-the-civil-war/article/2648867  

MLK Day Reflection

MLK Day Reflection

Peyton O’Laughlin

I grew up in a small, predominantly white, rural town in Southwest Ohio and we always got the third Monday of January off for school. I never really knew why we didn’t have school on those Mondays and if I asked people why then they would reply, “Because it’s Martin Luther King Day.” The I would ask, “Who is Martin Luther King?”

As time passed and I became and adult I learned about who Dr. King was to a degree. Once in the fourth grade we discussed him for about two weeks and after that it seemed as if he was just a tall tale, like he was brought up around MLK Day, but shortly after MLK Day he was rarely regarded. We never had a ceremony commemorating his achievements in his quest to end racism in our country. The school or community didn’t truly acknowledge him as much as he deserved, maybe because we were a small village and we don’t normally hold big rallies or events unless it involved football or a firework display.

When I came back to Wooster for the second semester of my first year and people told me that classes were cancelled, I knew it was because of MLK Day, but then I was shocked to learn about all the activities that would take place. An opening ceremony that acknowledged Dr. King and his achievements and Dialogues that involved discussions on ethnicity, mental health, and civil rights. I was so surprised by the activities that would take place on this MLK Day that I went to as many of them as I could. I truly learned, not only about who Dr. King was, but about how people felt about him and how they regarded him and his achievements. The experience of the college’s ceremony of Dr. King made me think about the injustices that citizens of this nation have been through and what could possibly be done to ensure that they receive respect and safety.

It’s no surprise that we have still have racism in this country. It never surprised me when students in my school used racial slurs and made derogatory comments about students that were a non-white ethnicity. Is there anything that can be done about this intolerance that takes place in my hometown, so that minorities in my community know that they have value and respect. I thought that we, the citizens of my town, could have our own MLK Day ceremony where we commemorate Dr. King’s legacy and inform people in the community about the hardships that minorities have dealt with since the birth of our nation. Reach out to the schools and have them make civil rights heroes more prominent in classroom discussions. Teach the youth about these individuals to a higher degree. As time passes, citizens will know of Dr. King’s legacy and possibly become tolerant and accepting. These actions won’t end racism in our country, but they sure are a place to start.