It’s Time to Change the Logo and Name

by Sukhmani Kaur

In his Opinion Page, “Cleveland’s Unthinking Racism” Op-Ed Columnist, David Leonhardt emphatically demands that the Chief Wahoo logo utilized by the Cleveland Indians should be banned. He declares the logo as “an ugly racist caricature.” The Chief Wahoo logo was chosen deliberately to highlight the macho, militaristic attributes of Native Americans, “Indians, on the warpath all the time and eager for scalps to dangle at their belts.” The cartoon has a face made of bright red skin, teeth too large for the face, and a deformed nose. The logo, Leonhardt states, must be retired even though it might serve as a whimsical reminder to baseball fans of their youth and it might help to evoke joyful memories of their childhood.

 

Choosing to remain complacent about the use of a logo that is culturally offensive to Native Americans is inappropriate and needs to stop. Although professional sports teams usually select names and logos that have aggressive connotations, the choice should not belittle any culture. Numerous activists have protested against the use of the obnoxious, xenophobic caricature, which is disparaging to Native Americans and to their history. The only reason that these activists and Native American protestors have been largely ignored is because they don’t possess the political clout or the funds to change the attitudes of the Major Baseball League. The league is focused on the economic impact of removing the Chief Wahoo logo from the uniform and the merchandise of the Cleveland Indians. The funds will be needed to pay lawyers, marketing agencies, and apparel companies to modify or drop the logo from billboards, merchandise, and uniforms. It is projected that eliminating the logo would cost a short term decline in the team’s income. Although the league is planning to initiate talks on how to remove the logo, the process could potentially takes months or even years. In the meantime, every time Native Americans view the logo displayed on television, the internet, on in print, they feel offended.

 

The decision to prohibit use of the logo from the Cleveland Indians team should be driven by principles and not by economics. Although there was opposition to the change, the United States House banned the exhibition of the confederate flag in Veterans Administration run cemeteries. The display of the confederate flag was a reminder of racism and white supremacy, therefore forbidding its use was the right course of action to take. Many other professional and high-school baseball and football teams have already paved the way for the Cleveland Indians by eliminating offensive logos and names from their team names, logos, and mascots. It is time for the Cleveland Indians follow in their footsteps.

Cited article:

Leonhardt, David. “Cleveland’s Unthinking Racism.” The New York TImes, The New York Times Opinion Section, 29 Oct. 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/28/opinion/clevelands-unthinking-racism.html?_r=0. Accessed 29 Oct. 2016.

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