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Stranger Than Fiction: New York Village Votes To Keep Racist City Emblem

By Kristy Puchko | Miscellaneous | January 13, 2016 |

By Kristy Puchko | Miscellaneous | January 13, 2016 |

This is going to sound like a joke or some of the satire we tend to do. It’s going to sound like that episode of South Park where Chef petitioned to change the local flag that showed white people lynching a black person, or like the running gag on Parks and Recreation about how Pawnee is so backwards that their city hall is blanketed in murals of various assaults against minorities. But this is real life.

This is an actual thing that’s happening that’s so ridiculous it just seems like a joke.

The AP reports that a village in central New York voted Monday night on whether or not to change their town emblem. 157 to 55, they voted to keep it as it is.

Here is that emblem:

Of course the town had to be called Whitesboro. And in case you were wondering, the 2000 census determined 97.69% of Whitesboro’s population was white.

Now, you might think this looks like a white man strangling a Native American. Well, that’s just because you’re not familiar with the history of the town’s founding. See, it actually “depicts a friendly wrestling match between village founder Hugh White and an Oneida Indian. ”

This violence is totally consensual and friendly! SEE HOW FRIENDLY!


Last summer a petition from an outsider reignited debate, so the town renewed discussions of changing the controversial logo. After all, it’s not the first revision made to it. Back in the 1970s people complained because White’s hands were blatantly on the neck of the unnamed Oneida man. So it was decided White’s hands should be moved to his opponent’s shoulders, which I guess is where they’re supposed to be in the image above. To me, it still looks like he’s being strangled. But what do I know? I’m not a Whitesboro resident.

See, it’s only people outside of this curious village that have a problem with this emblem. Locals who know the history don’t see an invading privileged white male asserting dominance onto the native people of color. According to local historian Dana Nimey-Olney, they see “a moment in time when good relations were fostered. It is a wrestling match, part of the history, and nothing more.”

You can read about that curious history at the village’s website.

So, should pressure from the larger world push this small town to change the emblem that they see as a major part of their history? It may be pretty on-its-face offensive, but in the grand scheme of things what’s a town’s emblem matter anyway, right? It only appears on every one of Whitesboro’s welcoming signs, police cars, and official documents. Oh. Nope. I see where that’s a problem.

Kristy Puchko lives in perpetual fear that ice cream will become self-aware New York City.