Action Alert : Contact Rules Committee to Change the Flag and Seal Now!

Dear Friends and Supporters of Racial Justice:

The time has come to change the white supremacist state flag and seal of Massachusetts, which features a white hand holding a Colonial broadsword over the head of a Native American.

Please take a moment from your day today to contact the members of the Joint Committee on Rules, and urge them to do all they can to gain final approval for the long stalled legislation ( S.1877 / H.2776) to change the Mass flag and seal!

Racial justice delayed – for 36 years in the case of the legislation to change the Massachusetts flag and seal – is racial justice denied. Please contact the Rules Committee now! And share this post widely through your social justice networks.

Sample Letter:

Dear Member of the Joint Committee on Rules:

I am a resident of (city or town), Massachusetts. I am writing in support of (S.1877 / H.2776) the bill to create a special commission, made up of Native leaders of the area now known as Massachusetts and state legislators, to change the state flag and seal of Massachusetts. The time has come to remove the sword that has been hanging over the heads of the Native people of this land for 400 years! This legislation has been stalled for 36 years in the legislature. Even Mississippi is holding bipartisan discussions now to remove the Confederate symbol from its state flag – which would leave Massachusetts as the last flag of white supremacy flying in the country. This image is a disgrace to the progressive traditions of our Commonwealth, an offense to Native people, and to everyone who upholds the value of racial justice for all. Thirty nine Massachusetts cities and towns have already voted at town meeting or city council to change the Massachusetts flag and seal, and an equal number of legislators now co-sponsor S.1877 / H.2776). Please vote favorably to move the legislation to change the Massachusetts flag and seal forward now.

Thank you,

Send to:

Sen. Joan Lovely, Chair; Sen. Joseph Boncore, Vice-Chair; Rep. William Galvin, Chair; Rep. Daniel Hunt, Vice-Chair

Members: Sen. Adam Hinds; Sen. William Brownsberger; Sen. Cindy Friedman; Sen, Ryan Fattman; Sen. Bruce Tarr; Rep. Louis Kafka; Rep. Joseph Wagner; Rep. Ronald Mariano; Rep. Paul Donato; Rep. Patricia Haddad; Rep. Alice Peisch; Rep. Michael Moran; Rep. Sarah Peake; Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante; Rep. Kimberly Ferguson; Rep. David Viera; Rep Donald Wong.

Joan.Lovely@masenate.gov 
Joseph.Boncore@masenate.gov
William.Galvin@mahouse.gov
Daniel.Hunt@mahouse.gov
Adam.Hinds@masenate.gov
William.Brownsberger@masenate.gov
Cindy.Friedman@masenate.gov
Ryan.Fattman@masenate.gov
Bruce.Tarr@masenate.gov
Louis.Kafka@mahouse.gov
Joseph.Wagner@mahouse.gov
Ronald.Mariano@mahouse.gov
Paul.Donato@mahouse.gov
Patricia.Haddad@mahouse.gov
Alice.Peisch@mahouse.gov
Michael.Moran@mahouse.gov
Sarah.Peake@mahouse.gov
Ann-Margaret.Ferrante@mahouse.gov
Kimberly.Ferguson@mahouse.gov
David.Vieira@mahouse.gov
Donald.Wong@mahouse.gov 

More Information:

MAIndigenousAgenda.org and Mass Peace Action are calling for broad support for this bill. Here are some of the ways you can be involved.

Go to the Change the Flag and Seal website for information and background on the bill. You can also go to the Massachusetts Indigenous Agenda website for information and updates about this and 4 other bills relating to Indigenous People currently before the MA legislature.

For more information contact Mass Peace Action and Massachusetts Indigenous Agenda.

Also:

Tell the MA Senate Ways & Means Committee: Amend the Native American Mascots Bill!

Action Alert Published on 6/12/2020

The Joint Committee on Education voted the mascot bill favorably out of its committee to the Senate Ways and Means Committee. This is a step forward in removing Native American mascots in Massachusetts; however, the Joint Committee weakened the bill by amending the text.

Instead of clearly prohibiting the use of Native American mascots in the Commonwealth, the amended bill now provides that “no public school uses an athletic team name, mascot, or logo which denigrates any racial, ethnic, gender, or religious group.”

This new language severely weakens the bill by: 

  • Erasing language specifying Native Americans avoids acknowledgement of racism directed towards them as a public health crisis.
  • The word “denigrates” will cause confusion by being too subjective (especially since many non-Native people believe that these mascots “honor” Native Americans), and
  • The phrase “any racial, ethnic, gender, or religious group” is overly broad and contradicts the purpose and name of the bill, which is focused specifically on Native American mascots.

Additionally, many Native American Tribes and Nations and individual Native Americans located and living within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts support the original text and oppose the amended text.

Finally, the Joint Committee also removed paragraph 5 of the original bill, which recognized that Native Tribal Nations with their own sports teams should have the ability to choose their own mascots without limitation, as part of their right to self-determination.

We call on the Massachusetts State legislators to amend the language of Bill S.2593 “An Act Prohibiting the Use of Native American Mascots by Public Schools in the Commonwealth” back to its original language.

Sample Letter

Dear members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee:

I am a resident of (town), Massachusetts. I am writing in support of Bill S.2593 “An Act Prohibiting the Use of Native American Mascots by Public Schools in the Commonwealth,” as it was originally drafted. I am a (parent, teacher, therapist, of indigenous descent, social worker, lawyer, etc.) and I call on the Committee to forward the bill out of your committee after amending the bill back to its original language.

The original language of the bill should be used because (1) many Native American Tribes and Nations and individual Native Americans located and living within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts support the original language; (2) the word “denigrates” will cause confusion by being open to interpretation; (3) the phrase “any racial, ethnic, gender, or religious group” is too broad and is not consistent with the purpose and name of the bill; (4) and paragraph 5 of the original bill should be put back in its entirety because each Native Tribal Nation should be allowed to use the names they so choose as part of their right to self-determination.

The current language in Section 98 (a) of the bill states, “no public school uses an athletic team name, mascot, or logo which denigrates any racial, ethnic, gender, or religious group.” (emphasis added). The original text provided “no public school uses an athletic team name, logo, or mascot which names, refers to, represents, or is associated with Native Americans, including aspects of Native American cultures and specific Native American tribes.”  What is most concerning about the changes to this language is the word “denigrates.” This word will cause confusion by allowing for different interpretations of what “denigrates.” Schools using Native mascots will argue that their use of a Native mascot does not insult or misrepresent Native Americans, but rather “honors” them (a claim which is inconsistent with the research findings).

Moreover, the phrase “any racial, ethnic, gender, or religious group” is too broad. There are no mascots in Massachusetts among public schools, which implicate any other contemporary racial group. There are no other racial, ethnic, or religious groups in Massachusetts that are complaining about mascots that supposedly depict their likeness. Given this, there is no need for the overly broad standard. Further, the purpose and name of this bill is to prohibit the use of Native American mascots by public schools in the Commonwealth. Using the unnecessarily broad language that does not specify Native Americans will take away from the aim of the bill.  

Finally, paragraph 5 of the original bill states:

This section shall not prohibit a Native American tribe, as identified by the commission on Indian affairs, located within the boundaries of the commonwealth, from choosing to use a Native-related name or logo for a sports team comprised of its tribal members, including a tribal school or intramural league, or from that tribal nation giving explicit consent for a school to use their particular tribal name.

This section should be put back in its entirety. As part of each tribe’s right to self-determination, they must be allowed to use the names they so choose.

Research findings reveal that Native American mascots are harmful to Native American youth because they generate a harmful climate for learning, and that they are also harmful to non-Native youth because they reinforce stereotypes of Native Americans. Thus, these mascots are not educationally sound, and should be removed from our public schools. The best way to make sure they are no longer present in our schools is to use the specific and clear language that bans their use. Please forward this bill out of committee and amend the bill back to the original language. 

Sincerely,
Your Name
Address, Phone, Email

Senate Ways and Means Committee Members to Contact

Michael J. Rodrigues – Chair
Cindy F. Friedman – Vice Chair
Jason M. Lewis – Assistant Vice Chair

1) Michael J. Barrett
2) Joseph A. Boncore
3) Michael D. Brady
4) Nick Collins
5) Barry R. Finegold
6) Anne M. Gobi
7) Adam G. Hinds
8) Patricia D. Jehlen
9) Eric P. Lesser
10) Joan B. Lovely
11) Michael O. Moore
12) Michael F. Rush
13) Patrick M. O’Connor
14) Ryan C. Fattman
15) Dean A. Tran

Emails: Michael.Rodrigues@masenate.govCindy.Friedman@masenate.govJason.Lewis@masenate.govMike.Barrett@masenate.govJoseph.Boncore@masenate.govMichael.Brady@masenate.govNick.Collins@masenate.govBarry.Finegold@masenate.govAnne.Gobi@masenate.govAdam.Hinds@masenate.govPatricia.Jehlen@masenate.govEric.Lesser@masenate.govJoan.Lovely@masenate.govMichael.Moore@masenate.govMike.Rush@masenate.govPatrick.Oconnor@masenate.govRyan.Fattman@masenate.govDean.Tran@masenate.gov

In your email, please also cc Senate President Karen Spilka: Karen.Spilka@masenate.gov

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