The Popcorn Stand: What’s in a name; Traveler is a controversial one |

The Popcorn Stand: What’s in a name; Traveler is a controversial one

Day 2 of my rant when it comes to what to do about Confederate symbols hits close to home. Full disclosure as I wrote in Thursday’s Popcorn Stand, I’m no fan of the confederacy and I’m bothered when I believe it’s celebrated.

I respect the views of those who disagree with me — as well as I hope they respect mine. But again to me the key standard becomes is the confederacy being celebrated? An Asian-American announcer who just happens to be named Robert Lee who’s supposed to announce a college football game scheduled for Sept. 2 in Charlottesville, Va., in no way celebrates the confederacy.

But in it’s infinite wisdom, ESPN pulled the announcer from the scheduled broadcast in Charlottesville and made itself look silly in the process.

Another controversy has surrounded USC’s mascot the last several days, Traveler, a white horse ridden by a costumed Trojan warrior. It just so happens one of Robert E. Lee’s favorite horse was named Traveller.

As a USC alum, my first reaction was one of passive-aggressive outrage. Never mind Robert E. Lee’s horse’s name had an extra “l” in it. And I started thinking I’m sure now the Travelers Company was going to have to change its name and so was the Travers Stakes horse race because it’s name was too similar to Traveler or Traveller or whatever.

But then I read about at a rally, according to the student newspaper the Daily Trojan (of which I spent virtually my entire time at USC as a staff member), Saphia Jackson, co-director of the USC Black Student Assembly, asked students not to be quiet, and reminded “white supremacy hits close to home” and referenced the name of the Trojans mascot.

The origins of the name of the original Traveler horse in the late 1950s is muddled. It’s been reported Traveler was named after Robert E. Lee’s horse, but it’s also been reported the name was just a coincidence.

At any rate while I respect Jackson’s view, I disagree with her. In no way do I think a white horse named Traveler ridden by a Trojan warrior celebrates white supremacy, the confederacy or anything of that nature.

So I’ll still celebrate Traveler when USC scores a touchdown.

— Charles Whisnand