Why I think DBU should change our mascot... again
Updated: Jul 31
In the late 1980s, Dallas Baptist University was ahead of the times when we changed our mascot from the Indians to the Patriots.
Founded in Decatur, TX, in 1898, Decatur Baptist College adopted the Indian as their mascot. And yes, we used to have a football team!
In 1965, the school relocated to our current location and changed our name to Dallas Baptist University. At that time, we remained the Indians and our colors were
blue and gold.
In the late 1980s, we changed our mascot to the Patriots and our colors to red, white, and blue. DBU leadership had recognized that offensive and racist nature of the previous mascot! At that time, we also adopted the beautiful colonial architecture that our campus is known for today.
The athletics program, in particular, has embraced the Patriot mascot:
Dallas Baptist University has adopted the American patriot as its official mascot. So, how do we describe a Patriot? A Patriot is faithful. A Patriot seeks justice. A Patriot is fair, moderate, and genuine, both in public and in private. A Patriot has an inspiring presence that brings out the best in others. A Patriot also demonstrates selfless, courageous commitment to his or her fundamental beliefs, and is not afraid of change. Colonial patriotism is the right emphasis for DBU because these qualities blend seamlessly with the DBU mission to produce servant leaders who can integrate faith into their spheres of activity. Servant leadership is an inner spiritual commitment to the welfare of those being led that is empowered by responsiveness to their needs and defined by a clear vision. These are the same qualities represented by the ideal Patriot, who denies self in service and sacrifice to others.
This is a great message! I can get on board with the characteristics mentioned here.
This description of a Patriot is not the only description.
The term "patriot" has taken on some negative connotations since DBU adopted it as our mascot in the late 80s. Other negative connotations were there all along...
These connotations have the unfortunate result of making DBU an unwelcoming environment for some people.
In what follows, I'll give three reasons why DBU should change our mascot... again.
The first reason to change our mascot is to distance ourselves from Christian Nationalism. Christian Nationalism is a cultural sentiment which seeks to blend the Christian and American identities. Here is a quick reason why this sentiment is wrong:
Jesus wasn't an American.
As a Christian university, our identity should be found in Christ--not Christ and America. And definitely not American Jesus.
The second reason to change our mascot is to distance ourselves from the recent Patriot Movement. This movement is associated with the radical right and includes a diverse collection of groups united in seeing the Federal Government as the enemy. While not all of the groups associated with the movement are racist, most are. Furthermore, this movement is associated with the Oklahoma City Bombing, Branch Davidians in Waco, and the racist backlash after Obama's election, among other atrocities.
The third reason to change our mascot is that some people think patriotism is racist. I'm not going to argue that patriotism is racist... others have already done that.
Instead, I just want to point out that some people think that patriotism is racist. This is enough to make DBU unwelcoming to those people.
You might be thinking of an objection at this point. Here is one way of wording that objection:
Wait... in today's culture, everything has been labeled as racist. Even Christianity has been labeled as racist! Does that mean we should drop our Christian identity too?
There are two things to say here.
First, our Christian identity is essential. We cannot be the same if we drop it. Our mascot is not essential. Case in point: we used to be the Indians.
Second, the association between patriotism and racism is stronger than the association between Christianity and racism. Just look at the founders.
The founders of American patriotism are usually identified as the founding fathers. We have statues of many of these men in the Great Hall. Many of these men owned slaves and/or expressed racist ideas.
The founder of Christianity is Jesus. Jesus was not racist.
In other words, my proposal does not start us out on the proverbial "slippery slope" that will inevitably lead to us abandoning our Christian identity. There are good reasons to abandon our mascot, and those reasons do not apply to our Christian identity.
In sum, we should change our mascot (again) because:
it associates us with Christian Nationalism,
it associates us with the extremist Patriot Movement,
and it associates us with racism.
As our President has said,
"...we plan to have a full review of our campus activities and proactively seek to engage in the sometimes uncomfortable conversations to change the narrative of our culture, first beginning on campus and then within our community and beyond. The need for elevated and honest dialogue is clear, and we plan to ensure that our words translate to actions."
Changing our mascot is one of those actions we need to take! I'm not going to suggest a new one. There are better minds than mine for that task.
I only ask that it not be the Crusaders...