Nov 8, 2017 (San Diego) The Daily Aztec reports that the University Senate passed a resolution which calls for the retirement of the Aztec mascot in human representation,. It used to represent Emperor Montezuma. This was a compromise made over a decade ago, that it would not represent one historical figure. However, the imagery never changed, It is the same. The second part of this resolution calls for the retirement of spears, which are “weapons that connote barbaric representation of Aztec culture.”
The vote was a 52-15 with 2 abstentions.
This resolution will be sent to Acting President Sally Roush, who can act on it, or ignore it, or enact portions of it.
This discussion on the future of the school mascot and other identifiers continues. Part of this is the feeling of cultural appropriation when this mascot is used. As Reporting San Diego pointed out back in April in an editorial, the mascot is a creation of white supremacy. It’s origins go to the 1920s and 1930s, and it speaks to the way that many sports teams took on first people’s names, which could be seen as both oppressive and a way for a superior culture to mark conquest. We understand these dynamics today, as well as the effect it has on different people. Some of this is San Diego’s heritage from the time the Klu Kux Klan walked our streets openly.
There is also sociological evidence that shows that these actions hurt the performance of students from minority groups, who feel oppressed even made fun off. There is more, the people in Mexico have roots in this continent that goes back anywhere from 30,000 to 40,000 years, when the first inhabitants came to North America via the Behring straight, as well as using sea currents from both the pacific (mostly in South America), and the Atlantic (Florida and the Carolinas.)
After the rise of agriculture and civilization, Mexico developed a very rich culture, one that Mexicans are proud off. You see signs of this all the time. For example, the art and culture of first peoples is now not just used in coffee cups, but proudly used to support and encourage these cultures to thrive.
Mexico has a public education system where textbooks emphasize these deep roots in the land. Students learn about the early inhabitants of the continent in fourth grade. History does not start with European contact. Incidentally, this includes the Southwest of the United States, all the way to Utah. Students learn of the first peoples and how they developed into the cultures that later on came in contact with Spain and Europeans. There is more, first peoples have those same free textbooks produced in their own native languages. They can and do attend schools geared for their culture and their language.
That connection to that past is present in the food Mexicans eat. The descendants of the Aztecs still speak Nahuatl, to the tune of over one million people in central Mexico. It is time for San Diego State to give up on this moniker. Nor were the Aztecs a barbaric culture that sacrificed people just because. It was a culture that produced art, science, medicine. It is a culture that we still draw from, in food and drink, such as chocolate, and tamales, and tortillas. The art is around us as well. It is time to respect this culture, and not use it as a school moniker.