The importance of representation
At the start of Spirit Week, "Mainer Day" leaves some students questioning what a "Mainer" really is.
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As March comes around, the time for showing spirit and what Biddeford has come to know as Tiger Pride becomes a staple in the school year. The choices of theme days this year have come up with a bit of controversy.
While days such as Character Day and Pi Day may not have left anyone feeling discluded, the first day of the week may have started off on the wrong foot. On Monday, Mainer Day, left some students feeling like they weren’t included. Civil Rights Team and Biddeford Allies adviser Shari Brinkman-Young feels this day didn’t necessarily include everyone.
“I had no opinion at all about [theme days],” said Brinkman-Young. “I didn’t even realize it was on the Spirit Week [calendar]. A few students from Civil Rights [Team] brought it to the Civil Rights advisors. They said, ‘Well this is kind of weird. We just did a production about how Mainers are everybody.’”
Fellow Civil Rights Team adviser Jon Edstrom understands the excitement around Mainer Day. However, he questions the idea of what it actually means to be a Mainer.
“I understand the fun of it,” said Edstrom. “But then you think about what we just did with the Civil Rights team, we tend to think of who a Mainer is, white, straight, Christian. There is so many people in our country, let alone in our state, that aren’t what people picture [as a Mainer].”
Edstrom feels the world has gotten a lot more complex and that Mainer Day proves that.
“Well if I say it’s just in fun, I can go back to the days when white communities would have these shows where people would wear black face,” said Edstrom. “It was always stereotypical of what white people thought black people were. But they said it was all for fun.”
For Student Council Vice-President Jacob Bilsky Mainer Day is just all in good fun. He doesn’t necessarily understand the little controversy behind the theme.
“I think it seems kind of silly with all the things that you can complain about,” said Bilsky. “There are serious issues that people should be offended by. When it comes to race, sexuality, and all that stuff. With Mainer Day, it’s mostly a joke, and if anybody should be offended by it it should be the Mainers because we’re making fun of Maine stereotypes.”
In fact, Bilsky said the council made sure the description of the theme day strictly outlined what the day meant.
“We’re very careful on how we worded it on the posters,” said Bilsky. “Our goal was to make it seem like it’s not Maine superiority day. It’s just be a stereotypical Mainer.”
Dressed as a Maine lobster, senior Matt Brady also feels that the whole point of the theme day is to dress up in a funny way.
“It’s Spirit Week,” said Brady. Of course there is going to be a huge stereotype of it. That is the point of it – to dress up ridiculously. On Pi Day, I guarantee Mr. Jacques is going to wear something crazy.
While the day may have just been to make fun of stereotypes, Brinkman-Young felt it was important to allow all students to feel included in what it means to be a Mainer.
“Miss Foster and I, and Miss Pelletier brainstormed with Biddeford Allies and the Civil Rights Team,” said Brinkman-Young. “We agreed that the least controversial, the most inclusive thing, to make people [like] some of our student who may not have flannel or LL Bean boots is to just have stickers available for them to write why they are Mainers.”
Bilsky felt that if anyone wanted change within the theme day, they are allowed at any Student Council meeting to share their concerns with the council.
“Ultimately, they should have come before the council [if they wanted change],” said Bilsky. “We have several meetings, every Thursday just about. They should have politely contacted one of the council members and asked to be present at a meeting to side on this.”
However, Brinkman-Young did not want to stop people from dressing up in flannels. She wanted to allow the people that didn’t have flannels to dress up in feel included.
“You don’t want to make anybody dressing in flannel feel badly,” said Brinkman-Young. “You just want to make people who can’t dress in flannel feel good too.”