Walking into Southside High School for the first time at the age of 15 I was filled with honor, pride; and a sense of belonging to an institution that held so tightly to tradition and honor. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know much about the the rebels, the song Dixie or its roots of origin as a 15 year old. I only knew it as a sense of home to one of the greatest points in my life.
On Tuesday, my Alma Mater, Southside High School, chose to discontinue the use of the “Dixie” fight song and change the Mascot, The Rebel, in the 2016-2017 school year. When I first read this is was infuriated. I was enraged that someone was trying to take away my home. High School was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I learned who I was, I learned what I was passionate about, and ultimately its responsible for where I’m at in life today. I felt an overwhelming sense of pride for my school and my community. “How could this happen,” I pondered as I was driving back from dinner last night. Never once in three years at Southside did I feel like a racists or felt like I was being intolerant of others.
As I began to process all of my thoughts here’s what I alluded to: This issue is not about the Mascot or the Song. I’m neither in favor nor in opposition to this. I’m a Rebel and always will be. I’d like to see Southside stay the Rebels, but if not, I’ll live. Here is the issue for me: we’ve reached an unhealthy place of political correctness within our country. Where is the line? What is next? I tend to be very liberal on issues, but how is this going to play out? On both sides we are condemning people for having an opinion. We throw the term racist and intolerant around like it’s everyday vernacular. To defend the school board, I do believe there are some deep rooted issues in the “tradition” of the Rebels and Southside High School. I would never want to intentionally offend someone and I would not want our community to do so either.
Here’s why Southside Students and Alumni are Upset
It’s about a sense of Pride for ones’ Alma Mater and the memories so deeply attached to it. When I see Johnny Reb, I immediately think back to football games and pep rallies. Moments in my life I hold close and want future students to have as well. These moments are caused by a sense of unity among people you may barely know, among past and current generations, and between those with opposing viewpoints. Being a rebel means being family. This is why there is an uproar.
Here is what We Should Do
Intolerance of ideas that differ from popular opinion in the name of tolerance, this is exactly where we’re at. The school board should not have made this decision under pressure to be politically correct. This decision should have been made years ago if it was going to change, but we should support this. As upset as I am about this, we must move forward. I do not believe that in this instance of Southside that the song or mascot is being represented as a means of discrimination – it just isn’t. On the other hand, to so many moving into our community it’s a symbol of something so much more. Whether a symbol of pain or pride the answer to fixing this situation isn’t easy. Ultimately it’s the school boards decision, I will support it and I encourage you to do the same.
To sum up my exact thoughts about this specific situation I’ll leave you with a quote from a dear mentor and principal of Southside High School, Wayne Haver:
“It’s amazing that one idiot can create such knee-jerk reactions with what he did,” Haver said, referring to Dylann Roof, a white supremacist charged with killing 9 people in Charleston, South Carolina.
We’ve let one 21 year old kid with a twisted mind alter the entire course of a nation.
So where does this leave us? I’ve seen some offer that we are slowly losing our freedoms as Americans. We are losing the right to free speech, and the right to speak up. What do you think? Is America at risk of becoming something our forefathers didn’t intend for it to be? Or are we taking a step in the right direction?
I will always be a rebel. For three amazing years the “land of Dixie” was my home. Nothing can ever take that away from me. I’m concerned and you should be to. As we move forward as a nation lets remember the heart behind everything we do and say. I’m all for tradition but not at the expense of offense. Regardless of your opinion – what happens, happens. It’s up to us how we move forward from this point.