America is in the midst of profound disinfection. One of the main pollutants to be eliminated is white supremacy and the associated Caucasian contagions. In connection with this type of idea, think about the location of a statue in Wisconsin's Kaukauna High School. In 2000, a massive bronze sculpture was erected near the entrance to the school’s new facilities. The purpose of the artwork, according to the principal, Barbara Fox McCurdy, was to give the school a “sense of the past.” The monument is modeled on a horse ridden by the school's iconic mascot, the Galloping Ghost.
For some background, during football matches during the ‘40s and ‘50s, the Kaukauna ball was carried by a costumed ghost on a horse. Kelly Vils portrayed the ghost in 1998. She made use of the occasion to update the attire. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Vils was thrilled and proud, as she shared with The Post-Crescent in an email. However, she did make a few changes to her costume, which was completely white at the time. She decided to avoid wearing the white hood that came with it. There was no discussion about the hood being offensive, but she said that “something about the white hood with the eyes cut out just didn't sit right with me.”
To be clear, the effigy at issue isn't colored. There is no covering. The rider does not have hands and is blowing like a sheet in the wind. However, some students are fed up with the statue. For them, it screams the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Six students submitted written declarations in front of the school's board reminiscing about the losses and suffering handed down through the generations of their families, such as one student’s father being subjected to racist slurs when growing up in the northeastern part of Wisconsin.
The Ku Klux Klan was a racist group that oppressed Native Americans through “violent and dangerous rhetoric,” a student wrote, adding, “We can not leave it standing any longer.” They realize that the sculpture is not connected with that, yet knowing that is neither here nor there.
Students said that they understood that the statue was designed to honor students' Galloping Ghost Mascot and not as an unwelcome symbol, but that was not an excuse for not removing the statue when it could create an unfriendly environment for those who visit the school.
Are you convinced that it is a sign of bigotry? Trigger Warning: For the Galloping Ghost's source, the Kaukauna Public Library indicates two possible scenarios from the mid-1920s: A story claims that an editor from an area newspaper reported that the Kaukauna football team dressed in white appeared like ghosts swarming across their Appleton football squad. Another report focuses on the coach of the struggling 1924 team for allegedly asking his players to imitate Harold “Red” Grange, who played for the University of Illinois and later the Chicago Bears and was nicknamed “The Galloping Ghost.”
Will the school's simulated spirit and his horse be shot and then used for glue? They might be.
The district has identified three possible alternatives for the statue's future, according to an emailed statement by Director Mark Duerwaechter. The first choice is to simply leave the statue as is; the second is to include a sign on the front that reads “Welcome to the Home of the Galloping Ghost”; and the third option is to move the statue away from the entrance to the secondary school.
June will see a definitive decision. In the meantime, under the guise of advancement, schools across the country are taking steps: “What is the Racism of Trees? Portland School Presses Pause on Proposed Mascot Because of Its Shabby Ties,” “Major University Accuses Its Own Mascot of White Supremacy. However, It's All Okay Now,” “College Announces the Fierce New Mascot: A Sexless Social Justice Warrior Who Is a Victim of Climate Change,” “In a Surprisingly Unexpected Twist, a High School Gets Its ‘Slave/Branding' Auction' Canceled,” “We're So Sick We're So Pathetic: A School in Virginia Is Considering Dropping the Wasp as Its Mascot Because of the White People Acronym.”
In the past, American history had value. Today, it's mostly the result of white supremacy. Prior to that, the truth was crucial. Misunderstood information could cause statues to fall.
In 2000, Jim Hopfensperger, who designed Kaukauna's $100k work, altered his original sketch so that a scratch on the paper would not appear as Klan-ish. At that moment, Jim, who died in 2019, was quoted as saying, “As far as I'm concerned, it's a galloping ghost. I mean, how far do we throw this political correctness thing?”
We're quite a distance from 2000 and a considerable distance from 2019 even. It was once the case that frightened children were told, “It's only the wind.” Perhaps “It's merely the monument of your mascot.” However, these days, America is spooked. Many are haunted by this ghost of white supremacy.