BELMONT, N.C. (WBTV) - Laura Boyce grew up in Belmont. She graduated from South Point High School in 2003.
“It was really jarring to go for a run in my neighborhood, and see all of the graduation signs up in people’s yards for the class of 2020 that had the bright face on there,” says Boyce. “I grew up very steeped in Red Raider football culture. And as a high school student, I really didn’t think twice about the mascot.”
But as times have changed, so have Boyce’s views.
“One thing that I really believe is when we know better, we need to do better.” says Boyce. “I’ve really come to understand how offensive native mascots - generally and particularly ones like South Points - where, you know, we have a bright red face, red in the name, which is considered a racial slur.”
Boyce thinks it’s time South Point’s mascot be changed, which is why she started an online petition. It has gathered more than 1,000 signatures in less than a week.
“The mascot doesn’t reflect the values of South Point and of Belmont,” Boyce said.
But not everyone welcomes the potential change, JC Goodson also grew up in Belmont.
“I do not agree with it,” says Goodson. “When you think of Red Raiders you think of Belmont. And that’s just as important for the history of Belmont as it is anything else here.”
Goodson’s viewpoint is also shared by many. A petition to keep South Point’s mascot, the ‘red raider’ was created less than a day after Boyce’s peition launched online; gathering nearly 2,000 signatures since its creation.
“It feels like they’re dragging Belmont into something that Belmont doesn’t even want to be a part of,” says Goodson.
“We need to recognize that that is still the impact and that intent does not equal impact and it’s time for a change,” says Boyce. “We’ve had this mascot, it’s really not about sort of looking backwards in blame, but more about looking forward and thinking about the messages we want to send to every person in Belmont and around the country and the value that we have for people of all races.”
Gaston County Schools say a mascot change has to be done at the school level.
It starts with a discussion at the school/community level – then any decisions on a mascot change – would be brought to administration for consideration.