“Although I do not know of any evidence of racism associated with our cheering” Gator Bait “at UF sporting events, there are horrific historical racist images associated with this phrase,” Fuchs said in a statement. “As a result, University Athletics and the Gator Band will stop using joy. “Traditionally, fans have shouted “Gator Bait” and used their arms to imitate the mouth of an alligator when the group plays the familiar song.
According to the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University, African American children were sometimes used to bait alligators in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Newspaper articles and postcards from that period also emphasize practice.
While some celebrated the change, others spoke out.
Lawrence Wright, who is known for popularizing joy after singing “If you’re not a Gator, ya Gator bait, baby” after a 1995 win, told the Gainesville Sun that he wanted to talk about the decision with Fuchs. According to the newspaper, Wright planned to take out goods with the phrase.
“I’m not going there,” said Wright, who was a member of the first Florida national football team to win the title. “I created something for us. It’s college football stuff. It’s not a racist thing, it’s about us, the Gator Nation. And I’m black. ”
The removal of the cheer was just one of more than a dozen actions announced by Fuchs as part of a three-point plan to combat racism at the university. He also said the university would remove monuments and names celebrating Confederation and stop relying on inmates and inmates for agricultural work.
“It is time for UF to engage and engage in this difficult, uncomfortable transformation work,” said Fuchs. “We know we cannot reverse lives of injustice and racism, but we believe we can move forward – in education, in promoting truth, reconciliation and justice, and in the struggle against racism, equality and the eradication of inequalities. “