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Mishandled Decision To Drop Cleveland Indians' Racist Logo Doesn't Go Far Enough

News on Monday that the racist Chief Wahoo logo will finally no longer appear on the Cleveland Indians' uniforms starting next year prompted calls for other sports teams to follow suit, and for the Midwest team to go further if there's to be a real shift towards justice.

"Over the past year," Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement, "we encouraged dialogue with the Indians organization about the club's use of the Chief Wahoo logo. During our constructive conversations, [Cleveland Indians owner] Paul Dolan made clear that there are fans who have a longstanding attachment to the logo and its place in the history of the team. Nonetheless, the club ultimately agreed with my position that the logo is no longer appropriate for on-field use in Major League Baseball, and I appreciate Mr. Dolan's acknowledgement that removing it from the on-field uniform by the start of the 2019 season is the right course."

The statement implies that previous decades of use of the caricature were "appropriate for on-field use."

cleveland-kinda-drop-chiefwahoo.jpgMike Simons/Getty Images

The Associated Press notes that "Every year, groups of Native Americans and their supporters have protested outside the stadium before the home opener in hopes of not only getting the team to abolish Chief Wahoo but to change the Indians' nickname, which they feel is an offensive depiction of their race."

The statement also makes clear the logo won't be eradicated completely. As notes that "You'll still be able to buy T-shirts and hats featuring the controversial Native American caricature, though according to the New York Times, Wahoo won't be sold on Major League Baseball's website."

As such, the move to ditch the "utterly inappropriate and racist" mascot was met with tepid praise. For example:

From the deputy digital director at Human Rights Watch:


From a Washington Post journalist:

While a welcome development, other justice advocates said that it should not be the end of the road for the team.

The Change the Mascot grassroots movement said that while Cleveland's move was good, it should force other teams, including the NFL's Washington Redskins, to take a look in the mirror.

"The Cleveland baseball team has rightly recognized that Native Americans do not deserve to be denigrated as cartoon mascots, and the team's move is a reflection of a grassroots movement that has pressed sports franchises to respect Native people," said Oneida Nation Representative Ray Halbritter, leader of the campaign.

"Cleveland's decision should finally compel the Washington football team to make the same honorable decision" he said. "For too long, people of color have been stereotyped with these kinds of hurtful symbols - and no symbol is more hurtful than the football team in the nation's capital using a dictionary-defined racial slur as its team name. Washington owner Dan Snyder needs to look at Cleveland's move and then look in the mirror and ask whether he wants to be forever known as the most famous purveyor of bigotry in modern sports, or if he wants to finally stand on the right side of history and change his team's name. We hope he chooses the latter."

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.


See also: Arrest Linked To Chief Illiniwek Dispute Leads To Renewed Calls For New U. Of I. Mascot.


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Posted on Oct 11, 2021