White Dem Thinks a College's Cartoon Tree Looks Like a Threatening Minority, Accuses the School of Racism

(Disney-Marvel via AP)

A college mascot in Florida has been accused of racism, though perennial plants aren’t known for their prejudice.

At the New College of Florida (NCF), a brand-spanking mascot has recently taken root. The school is now represented as the “Mighty Banyans.” Merriam-Webster informs those not in the know:


banyan: a large fig tree (Ficus benghalensis) native to India and Pakistan that starts as an epiphyte and has spreading branches which send out aerial roots that grow down to the ground and form secondary trunks around the host tree

Per National Geographic World, the fig Ficus is fierce:

The banyan kills the host tree by preventing its trunk from growing. After the host dies, the banyan continues to grow. Eventually, one tree appears to be an entire forest.

It seems sensible that the bad-to-the-bark banyan might serve as an athletic symbol. Yet, one observer is aghast at NCF’s adoption of the triumphant tree. A woman named Robin Williams has expressed her horror in an op-ed for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

For one thing, the teacher and president of the Democratic Public Education Caucus of Manasota decries the violent replacement of a (superior?) emblem. As a side note, Robin might not be a rabid fan of Ron DeSantis:

At its June 1st meeting, the majority on the Gov. Ron DeSantis-appointed New College of Florida Board of Trustees rammed through the approval of a new college mascot — “The Mighty Banyans” — to replace the longtime “Null Set.”

This was done over the objections of student Board Trustee Grace Keenana, who said changing the official mascot “Null Set” deserved more input from New College students, and that a final decision should be delayed until the fall.

For an understanding of the tyrannical fighting force known as “Null Set,” here’s OpenCampusMedia.org:


The “null set” means quite literally nothing. But over the past 25 years the abstract mathematical concept, denoted by two empty brackets, has been imbued with meaning for the students of New College of Florida, the Sarasota public university at the center of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ push to change higher education in Florida.

Serving as the school’s subversive mascot, the Null Set started as an oversight that became an in-joke among the bookish liberal arts students. More recently, it’s served as a symbol of opposition to a new administration. The two square brackets have appeared on T-shirts, protest signs and even inked into the skin of New College students and alums.

Despite the stupendous strength of two vacuous punctuation marks, some in charge evidently thought a conquering life form edged it out. And in the official drawing, NCF’s mighty mascot is colored brown. Although it’s never good to assume, it’s possible that’s related to the fact that banyan trees are brown:

Nonetheless, Robin is repulsed. Hostile-looking trees strike her as bitter black people — or members of some other nonwhite group:

To anyone with even a cursory knowledge of racial stereotypes, the new mascot should have set off alarms. It turns out the original student version of the mascot was very different in appearance and was unlikely to have raised any concerns. Yet Interim president Richard Corcoran and the New College Board of Trustees, which included culture warrior Christopher Rufo among its members, supported and chose an altered mascot that depicts a tree that has been anthropomorphized to closely resemble an angry, threatening brown individual.


Having been mentioned in her piece, City Journal writer and Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Christopher Rufo had an interesting response:

“Advice for white libs: If you see a tree and immediately think ‘looks like a scary minority to me,’ you might be the racist.”

Perhaps Robin — who is indeed Caucasian — can take heart in knowing that old mascots all over are being uprooted for the sake of social justice:

George Washington University Decolonizes Itself by Displacing Its Mascot

Major University Accuses Its Own Mascot of White Supremacy, but Now Everything’s ‘Okay’

The Racism of Trees? Portland School Presses Pause on a Proposed Mascot Due to Its Terrible Ties

College Announces Fierce New Mascot: A Sexless Social Justice Warrior Victimized by Climate Change

We Are So Pathetic: School in Virginia Considers Dropping the Wasp as Its Mascot Due to the White People Acronym

But maybe a brown tree is just a brown tree. And possibly, a “Mighty Banyan” looks mightier with a grimace than an “Ooh, yummy” face. And perchance, mascots are generally preferred to appear potent.


Is the terror-inducing tree all bark and no bite? Is Robin doing her best Don Quixote while supplanting windmills with planted wood? Either way, one woman in Florida is fighting the power of what she sees as a racist trope with a trunk. Bigotry is for the birds, so she’s radically right to do so — unless, of course, she’s gone out on a limb with a completely cuckoo idea.



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