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Apaches For Life!!

It's Time to discuss this Issue. The Mascot

One of the most precious titles I have been called in my life is the title "Centennial Apache" Seeing the profile of that Native American in that Head Dress still makes me well up with pride.

But lately there have seen discussions regarding the Native American mascots as  insulst to America's original people. 

With the pressure to change the name of the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indian's names and mascots, I can't be blind to the fact that my beloved school  may need to change it's name and logo too.

I was a militant activist back in the day in fact a member of the Black Panther party on Stockwell. I wanted to challenge our cross town rivals mascot. The Compton Tarbabes. It is a derogatory name for African Americans. I recently read an article in the L.A. Times regarding changing their Name and logo and I still support it,

But am I being a hypocrite by denouncing Compton's Tarbabe and defending Centennial's Apache?

I am not calling for a change. That is not the purpose of this blog. I am simply asking for discussion. I just can't be silent anymore.

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Comment by Gary Roberson on November 15, 2014 at 6:14am

I’m very late on getting in on this discussion, but here’s my thought on this matter. As a 1965 alumni, I have always loved being a Centennial Apache. I used to love the pep rallies and half time shows when our cheer leaders and drill team would excite the crowd. They were beautiful. The music was beautiful and inspiring. I loved it! Even now I love the memories.

I loved attending El Segundo Elementary School too. In my adult years I would drive by El Segundo School and smile. I would tell younger relatives, “That’s where I went from kindergarten through the sixth grade.” After the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, the school was renamed Dr. Ronald E. McNair Elementary School. Although I miss the old name, I am happy that the school was renamed to honor Astronaut Dr. Ronald E. McNair. After all, I still have those memories of elementary school. Nothing can change that.

As I was growing up I often went swimming at the pool in Will Rogers Park on 103rd St. Once again, as an adult I would often tell people I used to swim in the pool at Will Rogers Park. One day I noticed the park was renamed in honor of Ted Watkins. My beloved childhood park was renamed, but that was fine with me because it was renamed in honor of someone who had a great impact in the community. And, I still have my childhood memories of swimming in the park. Nothing can change that.

During my years at Centennial, I had very good attendance. That was because I enjoyed the school environment. This included being a proud Centennial Apache. After the national light was shed on certain mascots of various sporting teams, I tended to examine how the Native Americans have been portrayed and treated throughout the American Experience. I’m sure that now in 2014, an overwhelming number of Americans would agree that the Native Americans have not been treated fairly. I will not begin to quantify these unfair treatments because anyone who is motivated to read about them can do so.

Some of us want to justify the use of the word Apache by saying a large part of African Americans have some Native American in us. A lot of us grew up thinking that, while at the same time diminishing our African heritage. How much Native American do we really have in us? I’m sure it’s not that much, if any at all. Why is it we only no of this by hearsay? For those who say they have Native American in them, I’m sure they have not physically seen their Native American Ancestor. In other words, that relative is so far back in history that if there is any Native American blood, it is only a drop. My point is, of course most of us as African Americans have other racial blood traces in our bodies, but the overwhelming part of our ancestry comes from the “Cradle of Civilization,” Africa.

So what I’m saying is it would be more fitting for us to be proud Zulus, or some other African Tribe than to be Apaches. Unfortunately our African traditions were put down and belittled from the founding of this country and we still have not fully recovered. I believe we should realize we are in the 21st Century and be more sensitive to the feelings of the Native Americans. And yes, I know African Americans have had difficultly in this country too, but this topic is not about African Americans. It is about Apaches. So, fellow alumni, if the Apache mascot is ever changed, I will still have my beautiful nostalgic memories of being a student at Centennial Senior High School. Nothing can change that.

Comment by Nola Crittendon on April 24, 2014 at 3:34am

I personally see no need to change our name, however, the decision is really up to the present staff and students.  I am proud to be a Centennial Apache, and hope the majority agrees with me.

Comment by Constance Townsend-Jordan on April 23, 2014 at 2:04pm

I too, am a Proud Centennial Apache and who agrees that the issue of labeling is important. While I still have feathers in my heart, we must consider and understand how a group can be disparaged by labels.  

I am not sure how many of you Apaches out there, have placed “tongue in cheek” and wondered how Compton can yet have a “Tarbabe” mascot. Systematically, I believe we have taught that it is acceptable to mock our culture, while also pretending to honor it; as represented by the mascot in our schools.

In hearing and reading about this issue for some time, I know that the Indians care a bit more about how the mascots are represented as savages, fierce and angry warriors, or comical representations of their people. I am proud to say that this has not been the case with our Centennial Apache. Our mascot stands regal, strong and mighty---- fighting for Victory, (right)?   

I agree that I do not want to take down our Mighty Apache. However, it is a fact that people feel disparaged by these mascots. WE know how it is to be a marginalized people.  Let me also say strongly, that I grow tired our society being so “PC” about  everything!   I cannot be hypocritical however. So,   I am biting my lip to say we should challenge our Brothers across the way. I think Tarbabe is a little more harsh, than Apache.


Brave and Mighty, Apache for Life

Connie  Townsend-Jordan  


Comment by Howard Sanders Jr on April 22, 2014 at 2:55pm

WOW!! I would not be one to vote for changing Centennial's mascot in any way. Considering how many blacks may have ancestors who are American Indian I think it is totally appropriate to leave it as is.

Some months ago I made the decision to get a DNA test done always wanted to know all there was about my ancestors well there is enough American Indian, Norwegian and West African in my blood to ask what side of the fence are you on.

Sometimes change is not always good and in this case there has to be some memories of the good times at Centennial I could not imagine it being any other thing. I believe that the changed the name at Willow Brook Junior High School to I am not sure since I don't come to S. Calif that often. By always saying Centennial Apache's is a wonderful memory something other then that I could not even relate to.  Oh as far as the Tarbabes go that was a discussion either in the late 60's or 70's and they keep that name I believe the reason was as Phoebe said they realized it mean more then what someone of another color was thinking.  That all from me.

Howard Sanders Jr

Class of WOW!! 64 yes that is a long time ago.  So I guess I would really be old school

Comment by Lee G. Herndon on April 22, 2014 at 12:43pm

Obviously we old-schoolers want to keep the Apache name.  But times and people change so it shouldn't be up to us as alumni.  It should, in my opinion, be up to those who are currently attending Centennial.  They are really the ones effected by current public opinion and outcries by Native Americans.  I haven't heard any outcries about Centennial's mascot in particular but maybe there has or will be.  Let those students who are going to be the future alumni deal with this issue and use it as a learning experience.  My 2 cents... 

Comment by Dr. Evelyn Robertson on April 22, 2014 at 12:28pm

Absolutely retain our beloved mascot the Apache!

Comment by Gordon Marble on April 22, 2014 at 11:17am

Thanks Phoebe the woman who helped raise me, my great grandmother, her profile looked like the Native American on the "Indian Head Nickle" Yes I am I am 1/16 Choctaw. Yet I identify with African Americans problems not Native Americans. I identify with the 100 years of lynching not the Trail of Tears. It doesn't matter what I identify with it about if what I hold dear insults another people or race. I would be mad as hell if I was a image of a slave in chains with the name "The Cotton Pickers". Opening dialog now will help if and when our beloved mascot and name is challenged. By the way I do not want it changed. But I will listen to those who differ from me.

Comment by Phoebe Macon on April 22, 2014 at 4:06am

Hi Gordon,

I personally do not see a need to change our Centennial "Apache" Mascot. Historically many African Americans; as well as Asians and Europeans intermingled and married Indians (therefore there are Black Indians in America). The Apache, Seminole, Cherokee, and many more Indians migrated in the Southern States, as well as  Oklahoma, Arizona, Texas and other states. Personally, my family has Cherokee Indian in their blood. My Great-Great Grandmother and my Great Grandmother both had dark complexions but they looked just like full blooded Indians (with the long Indian type hair and all). So I personally know and believe that (those Centennial Apaches) that have Indian in their blood are "proud" to have and Apache Indian as their Mascot. Having an Apache Indian as our Mascot means that we are living our historical truth by celebrating our School and Apache heritage.

Now, as for the Compton High School "Tarbabes" Mascot name. The tarbabe or tar-baby name came about from the childhood book story Br'er Rabbit. The tarbaby in the story book was a doll made out of tar. The book was written during slavery time. When we hear the word "tar" we usually think of the word "black" and think of the black tar that they pour down on the roads. I'm guessing that maybe Compton High kept the Tarbabe Mascot name initially because the school was predominantly white when it opened as a High School. Sometimes change is hard or difficult and maybe no one wanted to rock the boat over at Compton High School. Anyway it will be very interesting to see if they will keep the "Tarbabes" name or change it after all these years?

Anyway Gordon those are my thoughts (great post) & God bless!!

Love and Blessings, Phoebe Macon c/o '75

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