Earlier this year, the Village Voice reminded the world that Washington’s football team isn’t only public entity proudly waving offensive logos. Nope, a village in upstate New York has also been making waves with its controversial seal.
So what’s the deal with this seal?
Back in the 1780s, settlers began populating what would later be known as Whitesboro. (You can thank founder Hugh White for the name.) Legend has it that a so-called friendly wrestling match took place between White and one of the area’s Oneida tribe leaders. White won the match and more than a century after that fateful day, the village decided to memorialize the event on their official seal.
The seal they created in the early 1900s was — you guessed it — pretty racist and offensive, depicting White basically strangling his opponent. In the 1970s, the seal was ever-so-slightly amended and White’s hands moved from the neck area down to the shoulders, for an image that… wasn’t much better.
Since then, the seal has stayed put, making Whitesboro look like a real-life version of Pawnee from Parks and Recreation. The Voice even offered up ideas for new, less offensive seals, but the villagers wouldn’t budge.
“I am aware that people are upset about it,” Whitesboro mayor Patrick O’Connor told the Voice in 2015, adding that he doesn’t think it’s racist. “It’s actually a very accurate depiction of friendly wrestling matches that took place back in those days.”
For months, people have been pestering village officials to change the darn image to just about anything else. Finally, Whitesboro officials heard the masses’ P.C. cries and decided to let residents vote on whether to keep the seal or opt for something less offensive.
On January 11, 2016, the villagers voted and decided to just keep on keepin’ on — much to everyone’s dismay.
But now, just two weeks after the voting fiasco, Jessica Williams and The Daily Show tackled this issue with the same verve we’re sure White stepped into the ring with all those years ago. It worked.
According to The Daily Show, Whitesboro officials will now be working with the Oneida nation to come up with a new village seal that (hopefully) eschews the scary strangling scenario. We’ll keep you updated.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 22, 2016