Diversity Council Formed After High School Incident

By: Stephen McLamb
By: Stephen McLamb

The controversy surrounds a stuffed, mounted raccoon a group of students brought to the Maryville-Alcoa game
Several took pictures of it while chanting "get the coon."
The question is, Did students know "coon" could be construed as a racial slur?
Volunteer TV's Stephen McLamb has the answers and what the school is doing about it.
School administrators at Maryville and Alcoa say they don't believe the students even knew that the word "coon" could be a racial epithet.
But both schools are being proactive to make sure their students are sensitive to all ethnic groups, n the future.
On August 25th, Maryville hosted Alcoa, and some students brought the stuffed raccoon to the stands.
While many older people knew the connotation, one local black leader says he believes the students did not.
George Williams, an Alcoa city commissioner says, "and we find that these young people really had no idea what that symbol meant to mature African-Americans."
School officials say they found the students had just adopted the stuffed animal as a senior class mascot.
Dr. Ken Jarnagin, Maryville High School Principal says, "These children I think did not know at all. It was just another silly thing they were bringing in as a mascot."
Williams says he understands how past racial symbols and statements can be confusing in today's world.
"A lot of the most offensive language is used by African Americans in music. So how does a black kid or a white kid know it's appropriate to use some of these terms?"
Regardless, the school wants to do something about it.
They're forming the Twin City Diversity Council involving ten students from both Maryville and Alcoa High Schools.
Jarnigan continues, "so we've used that issue to spring forward into what I hope are some proactive steps in trying to combat some of those issues that are still lying in our community."
But this will be a dialogue led by the students.
Lucia Hulsether , a student at Maryville High School says, "Talk to each other, promote dialogue so that we can really form understandings across these lines that would otherwise prevent people from interacting with each other."
The next step is getting parents, students, and the community together to move forward.
They plan to do that Monday night.
A meeting is scheduled for 7 pm in the cafeteria of Maryville High
School.
Jarnagin says from now on all class chosen mascots must be approved.


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