November 24, 2017

Bryant: "How Have We Not Progressed Past These Mascots?"

How Have We Not Progressed Past These Mascots?
Howard Bryant, ESPN The Magazine, November 23, 2017
[It is] appropriate to wonder why Native Americans are spared the dignity of progress, why the sports industry continues to insult them today as society commonly did 100 years ago. To many fans, perhaps nothing feels more American than logos like those of the Indians, Blackhawks and Redskins, but that feeling requires ignoring the history. Native Americans were excluded from being American -- from the 14th Amendment of 1868, which granted equal protection and naturalization of all citizens born on United States soil, to the 15th, which granted African-American men the right to vote, in 1870. Native Americans were not granted American citizenship until 1924 and did not receive full nationwide voting rights until 1957. By that time, each of the team names, as racist then as they are today, was well fixed within the sports culture. America has chosen logos over people. ...

"You cannot have capitalism without racism," Malcolm X once said. His statement was directed toward the class warfare that lies at the root of capitalism, and it applies even to the blankets, foam fingers, jerseys, caps and T-shirts the sports teams sell, even on a day ostensibly dedicated to a giving of thanks and peace between settlers and natives. The hypocrisy is disgusting. ...

It might be difficult for sports leagues to appear to capitulate to the protest behind a word's usage, even if that capitulation is out of simple decency. It might be difficult for teams and the public to admit their casual racism. It is not, however, complicated to understand that these logos must go. It is not complicated to know a relic from the first decades of the 20th century, routinely regarded by historians as the most racist period since the antebellum era, is inappropriate today. ...

Enough. We all know better.
In the first paragraph of his article, Bryant notes that during the 2016 World Series MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said he and Cleveland owner Paul Dolan would have "a conversation" about the Chief Wahoo logo in the offseason. ... Did the two men eventually speak? I can't remember. It doesn't really matter, though, because absolutely nothing was done.

The Wahoo Issue came up again during the 2017 World Series. And Manfred said (again) that the "problematic" logo was totally on his winter to-do list: "[I]t's an issue I intend to deal with in the offseason." ... Manfred had better hurry. Cleveland is hosting the 2019 All-Star Game.

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