In the early 1900s, four Akron high schools opened and were named for their general location: North, South, East and West. Each school acquired a nickname: North became known as the home of the Vikings; South, the Cavaliers; West, the Cowboys; and East, the Orientals (South and West are now closed).
East's mascot is a dragon, and it continues with its original nickname – Orientals. Is the term outdated and insensitive? Should the nickname be changed? Let's talk about this. So, what do you think? Share your views here (either by clicking on the "More" link below or on the title of this discussion), or join the discussion on Facebook at Akron Public Schools.
Mark J. Slutz | Posted Apr 16, 2010 02:59 PM
I think this whole discussion borders on the absurd. I'm part Celtic (my paternal great great grandmother Lucinda MacMillan was from Northern Ireland). I think it's great that there is a professional basketball team (The Boston Celtics) which celebrates the heritage of Irish Americans. I also am proud of my Italian (maternal grandparents Guiseppe Mercorelli and Christina DiPaola Tisi) and German (paternal great great great granparents Ludvig Mohler and Johannes Lindenbaum) heritages, and think it would be great if a team's mascot reflected either cultural legacy. I am an English teacher at East High School, and I am proud to be an Oriental.
Bob Bobson | Posted Apr 16, 2010 02:59 PM
How about the Eagles? Their mascot could be an eagle.
laura | Posted Apr 16, 2010 05:16 PM
To Bob: The Eagles is the school name of the now closed Central-Hower, therefore it should not be used. Maybe East could go with Lions,Cougars,Hawks, or Dragons as people have suggested.
Stephanie | Posted Apr 19, 2010 11:25 AM
I think they should keep it just the way it is.
Stephanie Hatten | Posted Apr 20, 2010 09:03 AM
No matter what you change it too someone will not like it or be offended. it is unique and no other schools have that name, so I think they should just leave it alone. You will never be able to please everyone, no matter how hard you try.
David | Posted Apr 20, 2010 12:43 PM
Dragons would work fine, or perhaps the Wingfoot, which is Goodyear's nickname for when the schools merge.
Diane | Posted Apr 20, 2010 01:52 PM
Orientals was once used to refer to Asian people. Now the correct term is Asians not Orientals. Oriental refers to Asian object, oriental rug, oriental decor, ect.. So, yes, it is outdated but I can't see them changing the name to the Asians. Perhaps a change is needed for the name but not the dragon.
Jack Hefner | Posted Apr 23, 2010 07:53 AM
East High Orientals was named because the orient is in the east. Not because of oriental people.You should concentrate on educating all of these kids who are behind all the other districts in the state.
Spencer | Posted Apr 23, 2010 11:17 AM
How about the "Oriental Dragons"
kevin berry | Posted Apr 26, 2010 06:34 AM
How about no name, don't want to offend anyone or anything? Maybe the East NoNames? Or the East "______". My goodness, we live in the age of New Speak, Orwell was spot on! As a graduate of Ellet (1977) I am appalled at the state of our current society. What's next, repeal of the First Amendment of the U.S Constitution?
Hubman | Posted Apr 26, 2010 02:47 PM
I like Spencer's suggestion of "Oriental Dragons"
Sandy Bulick McKeever | Posted Apr 27, 2010 07:51 AM
I am saddened by the changing of the Orientals. To those of you who did not attend East you have no idea what being an Oriental meant to all us. We were white, black, asisan, etc but when we came together we were and always will be the "Orientals". East High Alumni and Student body should decide what they want to be called not Bob Dyer or anyone else.
Patricia Grimes | Posted Apr 27, 2010 01:51 PM
My believe is that only former students and graduates of East High should be able to vote on a name change. I attended East High from 1942 to 1946. My choice is the " LIBERATORS " or the " AMBASSADORS "
Becky Phillips Martin | Posted Apr 27, 2010 03:26 PM
We are from East and no one could be prouder and if you can not hear us we'll yell a little louder. I am an Oriental till the end of my days. The Board and the City should locate the needs of our students and concentrate on those instead of trying to destory the spirit of a nickname that we all cherish. Will Chang have a new name because of its relationship to the Orient? Pick a better matter to improve upon! Shame.
Jennifer | Posted Apr 27, 2010 04:16 PM
As an Asian American, I find no offense to the East High School Orientals. I attended a school whose mascot was a Mohican. It has since been changed to a more "politically correct" Panther. But everyone scoffs at the new mascot. Once a Mohican, always a Mohican. And I whole-heartedly agree that someone will always find offense at whatever/whoever the mascot becomes. What's important is the pride that the students feel representing their school! I absolutely appreciate what Sandy Bulick McKeever has to say. Alumni and students come to embrace the school spirit, and I truly do not believe that a mascot predicates whether a student body or school is racist.
APS Taxpayer | Posted Apr 27, 2010 10:21 PM
As an Akron Public School District taxpayer, I do not want to see on single penny of my money spent to change the mascot names on the athletic uniforms, band uniforms, and any other place that the name Orientals appears. Since this change is being championed by David James, Bob Dyer, and Professor Brant Lee, let them pay for this. Nonsensical decisions like these are just one more reason why taxpayers are less and less inclined to vote for the future taxes issues that APS will soon be putting on the ballot.
Sandy Marzano | Posted Apr 28, 2010 09:05 AM
Why do people need to complain about everything NOW a days Let it be... NO dont change it! Its been fine all these years Leave it the way it is.
Why change? | Posted Apr 28, 2010 09:06 AM
This entire situation is completely uncalled for and a waste of time and money. I currently have children at East and one who graduated and they could not be more proud to call themselves an Oriental. Akron schools has so much more to concern themselves then a mascot name. Try worrying about education and teaching the other children respect for others. If the school board listens to a person like Dyer on this stupid subject then we need a change in the school board.
Christine Wainwright | Posted Apr 28, 2010 09:21 AM
Using an outdated and derogatory term to refer to a team or a public school is offensive. It perpetuates stereotypes and misinformation about Asian Americans. While the use of "Oriental" may still be acceptable when used to describe objects, it is not acceptable when used to describe people. The majority of Americans still view Asian Americans as "foreigners" whether or not their families have been in this country for generations. It is precisely this attitude of creating the "other" or "us vs. them" that laid the groundwork for the human rights violations committed against Asian American communities in the United States during WWII. Of course, I realize that this argument will most likely meet up with opposition in an area whose pro-baseball team is the "Indians" and where we use the "R-word" (redskins) to describe the pro football team in our nation's capital.
cheryl | Posted Apr 28, 2010 09:23 AM
LEAVE IT ALONE. we do NOT always have to be "politically correct"!!!!!!! the name and the school has history. it is the graduates heritage so let them keep it.
Diana | Posted Apr 28, 2010 10:18 AM
Orientals: sometimes offensive : Asian; especially : one who is a native of east Asia or is of east Asian descent orientals. (2010). In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved April 28, 2010, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/orientals The dictionary definition speaks loudly. It is not only time for a change, the change speaks loudly to the honoring and respecting of diversity in our community.
GrannyDugan | Posted Apr 28, 2010 10:54 AM
There's a lot more wrong with APS then worrying about some stupid mascot name. Clean up the schools and ALL the problems; guns, fights, metal detectors that you have to go through, and then worry about a mascot name change.
Ron | Posted Apr 28, 2010 11:57 AM
Leave it alone, the name orientals is used in a proud and positive way not offensively; in addition gives a minority group of people in the USA a chance to have their name associated with a local high school, a learning institution and ties into the Akron Board of Education.
James Kallergis | Posted Apr 28, 2010 05:12 PM
I am an alum of East and I do not want the name changed. The school should educate their students about the 'oriental' culture. The name should be represented respectfully and not as a discrimination. I am proud to have been an East High Oriental and would be happy to have more generations say the same.
Michelle Byrne | Posted Apr 28, 2010 06:15 PM
I'm am surprised when people denounce a change "just because it's politically correct". Being aware of how derogatory terms hurt a person or a group of people isn't merely being politically correct, it's being a nice person. We correct our children, I hope, when they are rude to others, even if they don't intend to be rude to them. Whether we intend to be harmful or not, we need to change we realize how our actions affect others. And "Orientals" is an outdated, offensive term. You wouldn't (or shouldn't) use it in business. You wouldn't (or shouldn't) use it in the classroom and so we shouldn't have a team with that name. Equating Orientals with The Fighting Irish or the Boston Celtics is an unfair analogy. An Irish college naming themselves that is different than a non-Asian school naming themselves Orientals.
steve | Posted Apr 28, 2010 07:21 PM
No one is suggesting that this is the top priority or the biggest problem facing APS. Change the name, it's derogatory and insulting. Do not try to justify that it's use is somehow promoting a group of people. Change it and be done. Dragons are great. Move on to improving the level of academic expectations in the middle and high schools. Graduation is to be an expectation, not an exception.
Steven | Posted Apr 29, 2010 10:50 AM
They should change their name to the East High Wildcats then they could sing and dance in the halls like High School Musical!!!! LoL
Lydia Freed | Posted Apr 29, 2010 07:54 PM
I think the name should be "Dragons" that would be perfect.
Jim Shafer | Posted Apr 30, 2010 08:01 AM
I am a 1970 graduate of East High living in Florida. From my job position which I have held the last 37 years, I have met many Asian Americans. All are professional engineers, chemists or in financial positions. Some are very recent immigrants, some are 2nd and 3rd generation. I forwarded 5 of my freinds Bob Dyers column. All did not believe Orientals is offensive at all and believe that the current student body should have the final say in this kangaroo court. The financial analyst, a 30 something woman from Beijing, now living in Dallas, believes Orientals was an exotic choice for Akron back in the 1920's. In her mind it ties Orientals to the Oriental Express, linking the west to the east. I sent her a photo of the original East High with the minarets. That sealed the deal for her. My freind Robert from SoCal, is my age, a 3rd generation Chinese American and he is as fed up with all the PC litigations as anyone. He is the one that brought up that the current student body should be allowed to make the final choice, not a transient school board president or hs principal. HN born in Viet Nam and has a chemical engineering degree from Pitt, actually saw East play in Youngstown in the late 70's. Because they were the Orientals, he followed their scores the rest of the season. He thought it no different than Irish or Vikings nicknames. Hn said Orientals would only be offensive if a person used it in a way that is hurtful. Richard who works with me in Florida, finds Orientals not offensive but argues both postions. I the end, he favors the student body vote. He is a 1st generation American. What swung him over to keeping the name was the fact that the Japanese American Defemation League was against it....because of the Nanking Massacre in 1937, anything Japanese support, Richard is against. No matter what happens, all graduates and anyone who ever attended Akron East High School since it opened in 1921, will always be a proud East Hgh Oriental!
new APS mom | Posted Apr 30, 2010 10:36 AM
As both a mom of a new APS Kindergartener and a college admissions representative who visits East regularly, I was a little surprised to see the name Orientals displayed proudly in the library at the school. In additional to being culturally insensitive and outdated, it is also teaching the students that it's acceptable to use such outdated names. East High Dragons has a nice ring to it. Please change this.
LDB EHS1978 | Posted Apr 30, 2010 12:02 PM
Thank you Jim Shafer for soliciting opinions of Asian Americans and sharing it.
LDB EHS1978 | Posted Apr 30, 2010 05:53 PM
Michelle - So you are in favor of requesting the "Oriental Trading Company" change it's name?
Kristin Wright | Posted May 02, 2010 07:15 PM
i think that the name should stay the same and so do most of the kids that i talk to. my mom and most of her family graduated from there as east orientals. one of the reson that i choose to go to east is because my mom went there. i would like to graduate an orientale like my mom. i am going to be in the 10th grade next year. also it has been orientales since 1921 why change it now. there is no reson to change it now.
Track Star | Posted May 03, 2010 11:46 AM
If they change the name, I demand new uniforms!
Carol | Posted May 08, 2010 03:41 PM
I am so sick of people wanting to change the names of EVERYTHING!! Jim Shafer is correct in saying that words are only offensive when used in a hurtful way. The name Orientals is PROUDly displayed in thier library, New APS Mom, because they are PROUD to be called that name! How can it be derogatory for a Non-Asian school to call themselves Orientals, Michelle Byrne? Surely a school wouldn't choose a name for itself that it was ashamed of! From all I've heard, East High alumni and students are proud to be called Orientals. Diana, you cannot honor or respect dirversity in our community by eliminating all ethnic references. That actually does the opposite. By avoiding ethnic references, you are saying that those with that ethnic background should be ashamed! Keep the name!!!
Richard Ikkanda | Posted May 10, 2010 08:17 AM
PLEASE DON'T CHANGE YOUR NICKNAME "Orientals"... as a third generation Japanese-American I take no offense to this word. It was quite proper for decades until someone thought "Asian" was better. Branding companies happens to be my business and you have branded well. Ignore the idiots -- stay true to your roots.
Leslie | Posted May 10, 2010 09:22 AM
I agree keep the name Orientals. Or at the very least, the Dragons. I don't mind a little compromising to keep the peace but why do we get over zealous at some news reporter's comments and a one Asian professor from Akron U who drummed up negativity from his out of state friends?
Brant T. Lee | Posted May 11, 2010 07:48 AM
No one is accusing anyone of having any hurtful or wrongful intent. It's clear that people have different perspectives on the meaning of this word. But it's not just a few overly-sensitive people. Jim, I'm sure I could survey a list of Asian friends and find sizable numbers objecting to the term. To me, it's telling that at least four mainstream dictionaries (and I have not done a full search of dictionaries--I imagine there are more), Merriam-Webster, American Heritage, Encarta, and Little Oxford, all indicate that "Oriental" in the modern context is offensive when referring to human beings. The grammar and usage bible for journalists, the AP Stylebook, says not to use "Oriental" when referring to people. These are objective sources.
Sherry | Posted May 11, 2010 07:49 AM
The lack of civility on our culture seems to have deadened us to the simple fact that, if we insist on using language that makes some of our schoolmates, neighbors and others feel like outsiders or otherwise "less than", we tear at the fabic of our school, neighborhood and community. We set up fences that seperate us and breed conflict. Also, for every one person brave enough to speak up against this practice, there are surely many, many more who are equally offended but scared to speak up. The question then becomes, what kind of culture do you want in your school? Do you want all the students to feel valued or don't you care? It seems to me there is only one reasonable answer to that question.
Beverly (Walker) Carlson | Posted May 11, 2010 09:00 AM
Just because the school is being remodeled doesn't change the face of being "Orientals". I would rather be an "Oriental" than a "Orangeman" (what the heck is that anyways). East has heritage, don't take it away from them. Plus look at all the generations of "Orientals" who never even gave the name a second thought. Most of our cheers were "Oriental" related. If you change the name "Orientals", you may as well change every school name. Bottom Line: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" WE ARE THE ORIENTS, THE MIGHTY MIGHTY ORIENTS! Beverly (Walker) Carlson Class of 1985 (please contact me for any reunion info)
LDB EHS 1978 | Posted May 12, 2010 08:13 AM
O-O-Ori-e-e-n-t-s O-R-I-E-N-T-S ORIENTS HEY! kEEP IT THE SAME!
Terri Humphrey | Posted May 12, 2010 08:14 AM
I think its completly crazy! East High has been known as Orientals for over 90 years why change it now? There is nothing offensive or insensative about it, Chang Is a type of Dragon. East has already wen threw so many changes in the past years. For us alumni, we can never go "home" again, or reminis about the good times we had at the school, at a ten year reunion. Why take away the one last tradition,our long lasting memeorie?
SlickOriental | Posted May 12, 2010 12:14 PM
I am an EAST HIGH ORIENTAL, will always be an EAST HIGH ORIENTAL and am proud to be an EAST HIGH ORIENTAL - you can take away the school's nickname, and you can take away the mascot; but you cannot take that away from me ever. Goodyear Heights and East High School are not what they were decades ago in a simpler and less frustrating time; but those of us whose roots and traditions were made in that community, and as East High Orientals, will fight this change with whatever it takes. "Promises were made to be broken." - NOT TRADITIONS !
Sherrie Tennant | Posted May 13, 2010 08:10 AM
The name should be kept the same! This is absurd to be offended over something so petty! RIDICULOUS!!
Reference books | Posted May 13, 2010 08:57 AM
You can find any reference book to sway and support your opinion as I can find them to support mine. Why even your refernces to Oriental and Asian will say it is an American issue and that European countires have no issue with use of Oriental for persons. It would appear the only subgroup with a problem are the "American" Asian folks.
Oriental | Posted May 19, 2010 01:58 PM
Keep the name Orientals. Good heavens people. Someone else will be all up in arms with no matter what name comes up.
EMB | Posted May 24, 2010 08:57 AM
This is quite unbelievable. I would never have expected so many people to be against changing the name of a high school mascot, especially when its an offensive name. The word "Oriental" as it describes people is offensive, there's no argument about that. Changing the name is the best thing for the school and the city. Instead of deciding you're a "mighty might oriental forever," you might think about growing up, you're making a fool of yourself.
Denise Williams | Posted Jun 07, 2010 09:14 AM
Why has this all of a sudden become a major issue. I think that the Akron Public Schools have more important things to worry about like education and a better school district. East High School has had many many orientals be a part of our school family and NOT a one has ever complained or felt like the name was offensive. They have been proud to be a oriental. Oriental is not for one specific race it is for a area or location. As a matter of fact I have been told that people of oriental background helped our with making the mascot. Imagine that. I think that Akron Public Board of Education has more important things to worry about. All the name we could find offensive if you want to be critical. Leave East High School Orientals keep their name and be more concerned about the school system instead.
Donna Boyles | Posted Jun 07, 2010 11:28 PM
I'm a 1973 East High graduate and very proud of it. Dragon can't be used a nickname- if my information is correct the dragon is the nickname of Hoctkiss Elementaty and that school is now closed. We fought to keep East open and succeeded so let's keep fighting as a whole AS AN EAST HIGH ORIENTAL
Erica Hobdy | Posted Jun 21, 2010 08:25 AM
I attend EAST HIGH SCHOOL an i think that it should stay the same because it's been over 90 years, it also has much history! an if you are going to change our name then they should change North's name, Garfield, Firestone, and buchtel's to... I LOVE BEIN A ORIENTAL!! IM PROUD TO BE ONE!! AN WE ORIENTAL'S ROCK THE NAME TO THE FULLEST!! DON'T CHANGE THE NAME!!!!!!
Pam Boggess Woodard | Posted Jun 27, 2010 06:12 PM
EHS Class of 75. I find changing the name from our beloved Orientals to something "more politically correct" as offensive to me as asking me to press 1 for English! I remember learning Occidental and Oriental to represent regions and i never really associated the term as an offensive term for a "people". Why not educate "people" in courtesy, and respect for others rather than forcing the issue with changes that divide "people". Respect through knowledge, Isn't this what the school system should be doing?! Focus on education and leave tradition alone!
Harry J. Holland | Posted Aug 09, 2010 02:41 PM
I attended my 45th East High School (Class of '65) reunion last night at Thomastown Center. And the subject of the "East High Orientals" was broached, but not elaborated on. I just want to say, it defies common sense that the term 'Orientals' is somehow prejudicial. It is no more inappropriate when used in the term "East High Orientals' than it would be when used to describe a rug as an "Oriental rug." Or the term 'Afghan' when used to describe a knitted piece of cloth, etc. This is to say, "Please do NOT change the name of the East High Orientals !
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