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Community Advocacy Organization

It has Happened Again -- Sexton High School is given 'another' New Nickname -- JDUBBS!

Surprise, surprise, surprise! There was a flip-flop last night by the Lansing School Board. Members backtracked on their decision from just a couple of weeks ago to rebrand Sexton High School with the new nickname of SCORPIONS.


By a 6-1 vote, with two members absent, the board changed Sexton’s new nickname to JDUBBS – in a nod to the “cool moniker” for the school, used by generations of its graduates. The school is officially named J.W. Sexton, after the longtime superintendent of Lansing Public Schools, Dr. Jay Wesley (JW) Sexton.


Board members first voted to make Scorpions the new Sexton mascot at a Nov. 10 meeting, rather than J-Dubbs, which Principal Dan Boggan said was a clear student favorite and leading vote-getter. In a vote of current Sexton students earlier this fall, J-Dubbs received 29.7% of the vote, followed by Scorpions at 23.5%, Cardinals at 18.9%, and Big Dawgs with 16.4%.

Sexton high school graphic


Some members of the Native American and Sexton communities (*No attempt has ever been made to determine if that’s a minority or majority of the groups) have called for years to replace the Big Reds mascot, considering it an offensive caricature of Native Americans.


An “offensive caricature?” The original Sexton mascot image, the resolute Indian Chief, appears to have been a composite of two actual Native American leaders, Sitting Bull and Chief Joseph of the Nez Pierce Tribe.

Chronicle News graphic


BIG REDS is not generally considered a racial slur. At least not universally. Here’s a link to what many considered to be ‘the’ definitive listing of racial slurs. Spoiler alert – “Big Reds” is not among them! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ethnic_slurs


Unlike the N-word, the term Big Red(s) is fairly mainstream in its use. BIG RED is the nickname for the mascots at Western Kentucky University (WKU), the University of Arkansas, and Cornell University. BIG RED is also the name of a nationally popular soft drink and chewing gum. Also, BIG RED was the title of a 1962 Disney movie about an Irish Setter dog.


FYI, there are two Michigan high schools that currently use the nickname BIG REDS -- Chippewa Valley High school and Muskegon high school. Interestingly, neither of those schools is on the just-announced list of the state’s lowest-performing schools. Sexton High school IS.

Chronicle News graphic


The school board’s decision to pick Scorpions over J-Dubbs led to criticism from several community members at a contentious Nov. 17 meeting.


Board President Gabrielle Lawrence had previously defended the initial choice of Scorpions as more brandable and marketable. Had they picked Scorpions, they would have immediately had an image to put on football helmets or wrestling mats.


Apparently, President Lawrence NEVER asked for a concept image for JDUBBS from the art departments at Sexton or any other Lansing School.


Here are a couple of concepts that were posted on Sexton Grad's Facebook pages back in June.

Chronicle News graphic





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