OPINION-EDITORIAL – As part of the transition of Dixie State College into a full fledged university, the debate on whether the name Dixie – along with all it’s Confederate connotations – has escalated in the recent weeks, as emotions on both sides of the issue fly high. Therefore, as a Minority Coalition dedicated to advocating for the Minorities of Southern Utah, we feel we must take an official stand on this issue.
The same flag that is flown proudly at KKK rallies is seen on campus. The same soldiers, who enslaved the African people, are glorified in statue form on campus. This issue goes far beyond just the use of the word Dixie. This is about glorifying a dark part of US history. The college is looking to expand it’s horizons as a university. If that college wants to open it’s doors to a national and international student base, we feel it is mandatory that the college not only changes the name of the school, but rids itself of it’s Confederate theme.
Having attended the most recent name change forum at the St. George Community Arts Center, it was apparent how high emotions are on both sides of the coin. A good majority of the former alumni in attendance proudly supported keeping the name Dixie. “If you don’t like it, then you can leave” was the common attitude felt there. Many of the alumni stated they do not like the idea of people who aren’t from here, or who haven’t been here as long as they have, trying to change this area’s tradition. The question we want to propose to these individuals is: Are minorities not part of this community too? Because you have lived here longer, does that mean your opinion is more important than Minorities? This isn’t about “outsiders” trying to come here and stir the pot. We all are part of this community, with a vested interest in what’s best for this area. It is a shame that individuals will try to trivialize someone who is simply taking a stand for themselves by lording over them how they’ve been here longer. If you live in this community, if you pay taxes here, if you pay tuition at Dixie, you are just as much a part of this community as anyone else is whether you’ve been here 50 years or 5 years. Minorities are part of this community too. The Native American and Mexican people have been apart of this region for centuries, it would be foolish to claim they have no say in what goes on here.
This is so much more than just the name Dixie in and of itself. It’s about the Confederate theme that comes along with it. It’s about the fact that pictures in old Dixie yearbooks show performances being done in blackface, as well as mock slave auctions. The majority of supporters for Dixie say Dixie is about their roots. Well, to people of color, Dixie and Confederacy is about racism and slavery. It is a slap in the face to Black people, as well as other minorities. The pictures say it all; those images are offensive and an insult, condoning Confederate imagery on top of that just adds salt to the wound. So many individuals simply could not and would not see the ties to racism. Even when shown the pictures by a WCMC board member of the blackface performances, the crowd responding by heckling. A refusal to see what minorities see was apparent at Thursdays forum. If you do not believe Dixie and Confederate images are racist and offensive, then we suggest you ask those who are victims of racism and know what it’s like to be discriminated against. Until then, in our opinion, it is simply unfair to make such an assumption.
In conclusion, this is a pivotal moment for the college and for the community. Making the transition from State College to University status will open new doors for this area. It will lead to positive change and growth. Something this area needs. However, we feel in order for the new University to expand as much as they want, the name Dixie along with the statue needs to go. The same flag that you see at any KKK rally is in statue form on campus. Those pictures of performances in blackface are an insult. This is what Dixie and Confederacy means to people of color, who are just as much apart of this community as anyone else. Apologies should be made on behalf of the school for those images, a change needs to be made in the name, and we feel the statue needs to go. Once those changes are made, the college will have made the right step in the direction of growth. Until then, in our opinion, the school is only hindering a very pivotal moment for them. Change the name, get rid of the Confederate theme, remove the statue, and let’s work together for a more united and positive community.
Washington County Minority Coalition
Letters to the Editor are not the product of St. George News, its editors, staff or news contributors. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them. They do not reflect the product or opinion of St. George News and are given only light edit for technical style and formatting.