A few people have asked Robert how he feels about whether the Dixie School District Board should change the district name. Here’s his best shot at an answer.
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I do not find the name “Dixie” objectionable in any way. Indeed, the word means very little to me. That said, if evidence were presented that the name was given to the district for offensive reasons, or the word Dixie was offensive at the time of naming or has an offensive meaning at this time, then, of course I would be in favor of changing the name.
If the school board drops the name Dixie, it should do so based on evidence presented by those who desire change. This might include evidence of historical events, literature or news reviews, linguistic review, or simply a poll as to the meaning of the word “Dixie” as given by speakers of the English language.
Changing the name of a long-time public institution is dangerous business. It should not be done without good reason. Certainly, the decision must not be made out of a desire to gain political notoriety or advantage, or in order to ameliorate a sense of powerlessness. Nor should the decision be made out of notions of social tribe or out of friendship. The decision should not be born out of fuzzy historical beliefs, disinformation, hysteria, or Internet chatter. The decision should not be made out of fatigue or for no other reason than “why not?”
Community discussion does not replace the need for evidence. Developing and presenting the evidence needed to justify change requires work. I could be missing something, but I am not seeing anyone doing that work. Alas, it is much easier to talk than to work.
Rather than requiring evidence to decide the matter, the school board may make its decision by attempting to mirror the overall public opinion of residents in the district. But it does so at its peril.
The better course is to make a decision based on evidence and logic. Any decision by the board ought to be guided by these two principles, and any decision should be accompanied by written reasoning. The reputation of the board will not survive a decision made in any other way.