Responses in favor of removing the Cowboy

[Editor’s note: The Trailblazer originally published this collection of comments that included a vulgar quote. The quote has since been removed.]

Sonia Balani, Hills Class of 2022

“I am Sonia Balani and I understand in full the reason for the change of mascot names across both schools. Like some other students, I was initially upset about the changing, more specifically about cowboys. Technically, original cowboys were POC, and if I’m being honest I don’t think I’ve heard many women say, nor said myself, that the word cowboys excludes women. However, I do think that cowboys needs to be removed, as the whole rivalry between Indians and cowboys needs to be erased due to the racist connotations the names have. I am for the change, as it is a progressive change in the right direction. People can say why does this matter now, or why wasn’t this talked about before? But, in reality, people have been talking about it, and it’s good that this change is happening now rather than being pushed off even further. All in all, I support the choice the BOE has made. I am frankly more upset by the rest of the student response due to the insensitivity and ignorance some responses have had, but I know that I support the decision to amend the names.”

Nora Khatami, Hills Class of 2020

“I think it is incredibly disturbing how students are in favor of keeping a mascot that represents the killing of thousands of innocent Native Americans. It is also very sad how the first ever petition students are signing are for the keeping of the mascot and not black lives matter. Again, it is sad that students and even alumni are more vocal about keeping a mascot instead of talking about bigger, more important global issues.”

Aria Chalileh, Hills Class of 2021

While I love being a Pascack Hills Cowboy, I am in support of the removal of a mascot. I believe that our mascot, as well as the Pascack Valley mascot, have racist undertones, whether intentional or not. It’s important to step away from these mascots and reflect on the history of Cowboys & Indians in order to learn & grow as a district. I believe that we can choose a mascot that is more representative of district values, allowing us to move towards a more inclusive school environment.”

Rebecca Fiore, Hills alumnus

Former PHHS student here. This was a great decision made by BOE and if these students who are upset by it really cared they would have been at the meeting. This is an absurd and racist trope that needs to go. Plus I don’t know one single cowboy in NJ.”

Rima Desai, Hills Class of 2013

“I graduated in 2013 from Pascack Hills. As one of the few people of color in my grade, my time at Hills was all about surviving the blatant racism and heavy-handed micro-aggressions at hills. Now, as an adult, it’s easy to reflect upon what I could have done or should have said. I’m will not make that same mistake again. The “cowboys” vs. “indians” is racist. My family background is from India; it’s RACIST to call Native Americans “indians” to not only my people but theirs. I fully support the removal of the hills and valley mascots and hope that my high school will be a more WELCOMING place for POC and BiPOC. It’s absolutely disgusting that administrators would allow students and parents to hold a protest with Trump signs; there are probably countless POC students that feel unsafe because of the familiar faces advocating for a racist mascot with Trump flags waving in the wind. I encourage the administration to not only punish the students that were protesting but immediately remove the current mascots.”

Laurie Malkin, Hills Class of 1986

As a member of the Class of ’86, I wholeheartedly support the change. Not once during my time as a high school student was there any historical or community context offered as to why our mascots were the Cowboys and Indians. And I find it hard to believe that they were chosen and accepted for any reason other than that they were then socially acceptable mascots/rivals at the time, saddled with all the stereotypes and bias of the day. It’s not like the Indians were being honored for their contributions to the region with the use of the mascot and, let’s be real, there were no cowboys in Woodcliff Lake and Montvale. Farmers, sure. But cowboys? It is past time to retire Indians, Cowboys, and other racist, culturally insensitive, and sexist tropes. The community (and the educational system in particular) owes it to our kids to teach and encourage inclusiveness. The Pascack Valley area is home to many historical sites of the American Revolution, so my suggestion…..why doesn’t at least one of the region’s mascots become the Revolutionaries?!”

Shariany Then, Hills Class of 2022

If you are white you have no say on whether the mascot should be kept or not. This actually should’ve happened a longg time ago, and the reactions and protests following this are actually disgusting. Most of this school is caucasian and they do not get a say because this mascot OBVIOUSLY isn’t offensive to THEM. This is a great step to better hills and i’m absolutely disgusted by my fellow classmates. Most of the people protesting were white as well, people need to educate themselves. These people should take the effort they’ve been putting into this, and put into the BLM movement instead. That is more important.”

Beck Kerdman, Hills Class of 2020

I am strongly in favor of removing the mascot. The PV Indian is clearly a racist caricature, and cowboys are the group that historically terrorized Natives. The idea that we should be proud of a group of people who enacted the genocide of an entire culture is crazy. We have a lot to be proud of. Choosing to be proud of the worst parts of our history minimizing everything else we do.
Beck Kerdman”