Students at Hall High School have started selling and wearing a t-shirt with the mascot's old logo of a Native American to classmates. Critics call it insensitive and racist.
The blue t-shirt shows “The Rez” is written above the logo, which is short for “The Reservation.” The group is known as the school’s student fan section during games.
"The Rez" has been under fire because of the negative connotation that comes with its name. The release of a new shirt has rekindled the conversation about the group's name; its sparked attention on Twitter.
Lakota hip-hop artist, Frank Waln, who spoke to students last school year about the offensive nature of their former mascot logo, tweeted: “I told them that as a native person from an actual Rez, I was offended and angered. None of these kids are native or from a Rez.”
Later, the hip-hop posted: "Americans will fight harder to defend native mascots than they will to defend the lives of actual native ppl (sic) whose land they live on."
This tweet was shared over 1,000 times at the time of this post.
Some students say there needs to be a conversation about a name change of the group to bring inclusiveness.
“A lot of people disagree with the name, a lot of people find it very offensive and racist and have continually gone to them and said this is offensive and we want it changed. Some people aren’t comfortable going to games and being with them rooting for the school because of it,” said student council treasurer, Talia Feldman.
Last year, the high school changed its Warriors Native American mascot logo to a warrior wearing what appears to be a helmet and the letters "HW" for "Hall Warriors".
Some students say the t-shirt shouldn’t be worn.
“They do wear these shirts to school as a way to exercise their right to free speech, that is their argument around that. We’re trying to get around that,” said student, Rachel Corcoran-Adams.
School Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Andrew Morrow told NBC Connecticut in a statement:
The West Hartford Public Schools requires that all school-sanctioned and school-funded clubs and organizations respect diverse cultural values and the importance of inclusion. Unfortunately, a small number of students have chosen to selfishly seek attention by deliberately continuing to promote an unofficial student group with a name and imagery that is inappropriate and racially insensitive. This attention-seeking behavior is deliberately designed to provoke the larger student body and the community.
These students do not represent our schools and the overwhelming majority of our caring and compassionate students. Instead of these actions, we would prefer to be highlighting and congratulating the two Hall High School seniors who were identified this week as National Presidential Scholar Candidates. This prestigious award is a testament to their hard work and dedication and we are proud to have them represent both Hall High School and West Hartford.
Students told NBC Connecticut on Thursday said they hope bringing awareness to the situation will help start of a conversation between students and administration.