When I first heard of an issue arising in Belding schools about the use of any kind of sword being banned with regards to the Black Knights logo, I rolled my eyes.
My initial reaction was, “Here we go again, our hyper-sensitive culture has given way to ridiculousness once again.” But, as I learned more about the issue that was brought up to Belding’s Board of Education recently, I eased up on the criticism.
When you think of a knight, you think shiny armor, a formidable shield, an intimidating helmet and, of course, a sword, which, to many, is a historic symbol of every knight. So it wasn’t a stretch of the imagination when Belding switched its mascot from Redskins to Black Knights that typical effects of a knight would eventually show up on new Black Knights apparel, including a sword. However, when the school decided on the Black Knights logo, the board made sure to not associate its new logo with any type of weaponry.
When an actual sword showed up on school grounds — an innocent gesture of an award, mind you — the board had to clarify its policy on the usage of the Black Knights logo.
This was done to avoid any debate about the use of the school’s logo on apparel or merchandise made by students, athletes, parents or businesses. Such a debate arose when the school still had the Redskins mascot, as T-shirts with an alternate logo were being made, which went against the school’s policy at the time.
This time around, the board adopted several versions of the Black Knights logo for use and wrote up a policy that clearly stated these adopted logos should only be used on apparel or merchandise, Belding Area Schools Superintendent Brent Noskey told the Daily News.
“The board did not want to get into this again with Black Knight imagery, so it decided to use the shield as its main image on the logo,” he said via email. “The new policy emphasizes that we have several ‘adopted’ logos that can be used and we are not going to allow school groups to create their own images.”
Belding still has die-hard fans of the former mascot, but society has changed and so too the awareness of symbols of racism and violence. We’ve seen far too many unfathomable, tragic and violent events happen at schools, so much that American schools today must protect themselves, even if it’s to the point of regulating the use of a school mascot logo.
So even if there is an innocent take at altering Belding’s Black Knights logo or imagery, the school must take a firm stand in regulating these things as it surely is a slippery slope. As innocent as a foam-made sword would be, for example, I can understand the board not even allowing a harmless toy to be used as part of the logo or mascot because, really, where do you draw the line?
It is, for that reason, the board adopted multiple versions of the logo that emphasized a knight’s helmet and shield, which, in my opinion, is plenty to play with if one is going to alter the school’s logo in any fashion.
So, as silly as it may have seemed to see the board take such a serious stand on something that was truly innocent and playful, I actually am glad to see the board and school learn from its past and uphold a policy that, in the grand scope of things, keeps the school and its students and staff safe and upholds the respect of its new mascot.