KTTH OPINION

Rantz: School district rejected ‘white supremacist’ Thor mural for not being inclusive enough

Jun 11, 2024, 5:55 PM | Updated: Jun 12, 2024, 9:40 am

Image: Students say district officials are nixing a 'Thor' mascot mural at Mountain View High Schoo...

Students say district officials are nixing a 'Thor' mascot mural at Mountain View High School for not being gender and racially inclusive. This image has been AI generated. (Image courtesy of Mountain View High School students)

(Image courtesy of Mountain View High School students)

The senior class at Mountain View High School in Vancouver, Wash. was excited about their senior gift: a mural of their unofficial mascot Thor. But just when they thought the project was green lit, students exclusively told “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH that the school district’s equity office was concerned because the mural represents white supremacy and wasn’t gender or racially inclusive enough.

Tara and Ava are two senior council members for the school’s student government. They said student leaders put a lot of thought into the senior class gift to the school and settled on a mural because the school was recently renovated and the walls were still mostly barren.

“We were really excited to have the mural up, we thought by Spring Break,” Tara told “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH. “But then we had to go through the district a few times to make sure that the image that we were permanently putting up on the walls was something that they could agree with to represent our school.”

Thor mascot is apparently too white, too male, and too colonialist

Thor is not technically an official part of the school’s logo or team name; they’re called the “Thunder.” But there’s a Thor statue in the main entrance and imagery around the mascot include Thor’s hammer. The AI-generated mural shows the Norse god Thor standing on a mountain with light bolts flowing from his hammer, held over his head.

An Evergreen Public Schools district administrator sent an email to the students involved in designing the mural.

Students were asked if the senior class surveyed students about their thoughts on the mural and then reminded them that, “We are a system that strives for inclusive representation and our Title IX and Gender Inclusive Schools commitments obligate us to create a neutral and diverse representation of the ‘Thunder’.”

The email rejected the mural, though that wasn’t said explicitly. It said the district would like “to see some other options of the mural from the artist” so that they could review the new concept and ask the student body to vote on it. The staff member also offered an “idea” to “remove the person (Thor), enlarge the hammer and rotate it so that it’s hammering the center of the mountain.”

Tara said she knew something was wrong when they met with district staff, including the equity advancement specialist. The other elected senior class council members attended, as well.

“(Equity department officials) had an issue with the image not being racially and gender inclusive, as well as upholding an image of pure colonization, white power, white supremacy and even going as far as to say that it was alluding to racist anti-black imagery in the south,” Tara said she was told at the meeting.

Move intended to protect students in the future from being offended by mural

Ava said they were told that “without context, our image could be taken the wrong way,” including being seen as an example of white supremacy. Tara noted they were warned to be “mindful that the image, despite it not being problematic is something that could grow to be controversial” in the future.

Ava said she remembered being flabbergasted by the claim that the Thor mascot mural was deemed offensive.

“Realistically, as a student, if I’m walking down the hallway, and I see this image up on the wall, that’s not going to be the first thing that comes to my mind. The first thing is going to be like, ‘This is my school mascot on the wall. And it looks pretty cool,'” Ava explained.

Tara said the meeting was a “very uncomfortable position for a bunch of high school students to be put in.”

They were treated, she felt, like they were being talked down to, which was different than how their supportive school administration had been towards them. She said their pleas to keep the mascot mural as is were ignored. Instead, Tara said the staffers claimed that the district was speaking for the “silent minority students that are too afraid to speak up and talk for themselves.”

“We were just essentially told that we will maybe understand their perspective when we’re in our 40s and have more life experiences (like) they do,” Tara explained, noting she’s not sure any students are too afraid to say anything.

Tara couldn’t help but observe the administrators feigning offense at the Thor mascot were white.

“We find it extremely disturbing that those who benefit from white privilege would utilize the ideals of equity to silence a predominantly female, ethnically and racially diverse, democratically elected body for daring to speak truth to power,” Tara wrote in an email when she first reached out to “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH.

Where things stand

District officials did not respond to multiple requests for comments. But it’s Tara and Ava’s understanding that the original mural is now axed, and they will have to make changes. One of the proposed changes, they argued, was ludicrous.

Tara said staff pulled “a bunch of AI-generated images” of people of color and females to add to the mural but they “had nothing to do with school.”

“It was very obvious that if we put something like that up, it would be very obvious the entire student body and anyone that knows anything about Mountain View that it was just to fulfill a diversity quota,” she said.

They believe the district will try to ignore this entirely moving forward and put up their own version of a mural when the time is right.

Listen to “The Jason Rantz Show” on weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow Jason on X, formerly known as TwitterInstagram, and  Facebook.

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