The past few weeks of protests and demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd’s death has led many institutions to take a look inward and embrace some changes to be inclusive for all.
Those introspective thoughts happened at the University of Florida as well. School president Kent Fuchs released a statement on Thursday, laying out some changes at UF.
Many changes were announced. However, the biggest uproar centered around the popular “Gator Bait” chant. Fuchs said that the chant will not be used anymore, as it may contain racist undertones. This is what Fuchs said about the subject in the statement he released.
“While I know of no evidence of racism associated with our “Gator Bait” cheer at UF sporting events, there is horrific historic racist imagery associated with the phrase. Accordingly University Athletics and the Gator Band will discontinue the use of the cheer.”
Wright Speaks Up
The cheer was made famous in 1995 by Lawrence Wright, a standout safety for the Gators. Following a win over Florida State, Wright said, “If you ain’t a Gator, ya Gator bait.”
In a statement to the Gainesville Sun, Wright has expressed his displeasure with the decision made by Fuchs.
“I’m not going for it,” he said. “I created something for us. It’s a college football thing. It’s not a racist thing, It’s about us, the Gator Nation. And I’m black. What about our history as the Gator Nation? We took a program from the top five to No. 1 in the country. I think I’ve done enough, put in the sweat and tears, to get to offer my opinion about something like this.”
While some may be against the changes, others believe they were long overdue.
According to The Undefeated, the use of young, black children to lure an Alligator towards a hunter was not uncommon in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
Here is why I don’t mind Gator Bait being cancelled. If you think otherwise, I get it. Just try to see the bigger picture of everything. pic.twitter.com/mVwlvPS5RS
— Jerry Jr. (@JBreezyII) June 18, 2020
While “Gator Bait” is getting most of the attention, the other points made in Fuchs’ statement are not being discussed as much. Among them is a commitment from Fuchs to change the name on any monument or building that honors the Confederacy.