The Racial Justice Reckoning Over Sports Team Names Is Spreading


Week, week, There's There's been been another another reckoning reckoning in in sports, sports, whether whether to to change change team team names names or or logos logos that that contain contain Native Native American American emblems. emblems. In In stereotypes. stereotypes. There There is is time time to to Move Move for for Major Major League League Baseball's Baseball's Cleveland Cleveland Indians Indians announced announced they're they're considering considering changing changing the the team's team's name name manager manager Terry Terry Francona Francona feels feels now now is is an appropriate an appropriate time time for for change change Older. Older. We're We're never never trying trying to to be be disrespectful. disrespectful. I I still still feel feel that that way, way, but but I I don't don't think think that's that's a a good good enough enough answer. answer. Today. Today. The The announcement announcement comes comes a a little little over over a a year year after after Cleveland Cleveland removed removed its its chief chief Wahoo Wahoo logo, logo, a a cartoonish cartoonish caricature caricature of of a native a native American American man man long long considered considered racist. racist. It It also also came came shortly shortly after after the the announcement announcement at at Washington's Washington's NFL NFL franchises franchises weighing weighing whether whether to to change change its its team team name, name, which which is is widely widely regarded regarded as as a racial a racial slur. slur. Julian Julian Brave Brave Noise Noise Cat Cat contributes contributes to to ESPN ESPN is is the the undefeated undefeated He He writes writes that that the the team team name name references references Native Native American American skin skin color. color. In the In the bloody bloody scouts scouts of of indigenous indigenous People People taken taken his his bounty bounty by by white white colonists. colonists. If If a group a group of of people people are are speaking speaking out out about about the the racism racism of of a team a team logo, logo, it's it's It's It's quite quite the the thing thing to to go go and and claim claim that that actually actually know know you you are are honoring honoring them, them, and and it's it's hard hard for for me me to imagine to imagine the the same same thing thing happening happening for for another another racial racial group group in in the United the United States. States. Team Team owner owner Dan Dan Snyder Snyder has has bound bound for for years. years. He He never never changed changed the name. the name. Saying Saying the the term term actually actually embodies embodies honor, honor, respect respect and and pride. pride. Protesters Protesters and and advocacy advocacy groups groups have have called called for for change change for for decades. decades. But But on on ly ly in the in face the face of of mounting mounting economic economic pressure pressure did did Snyder Snyder finally finally announced announced they're they're reconsidering reconsidering investors investors with with major major sponsors sponsors from from Pepsi. Pepsi. FedEx FedEx in in Nike Nike sent sent letters letters asking asking the the companies companies to to terminate terminate their their relationship relationship with with Washington Washington unless unless it it agreed agreed to to a name a name change, change, which which you know you know kind kind of of exciting exciting on on the the one one hand, hand, but but the the reality reality it it reveals reveals about about the the power power of of capital. capital. In In our our culture culture and and society society is is a a little little bit bit of of a downer a downer for for me. me. But But those those two two franchises franchises don't don't stand stand alone. alone. A A world world without without native native mascots mascots is is the the ideal ideal world. world. Nick Nick Marin Marin is is a member a member of of this this a pony a pony tribe tribe in in a staff a staff writer writer for for the the New New Republic Republic any any kind kind of of imagery imagery like like that that and and specifically specifically as as it it relates relates to to native native people, people, because because we we have have been been made made invisible, invisible, forcibly forcibly the the idea idea that that we we would would You You get get rid rid of of the the walking walking Jim Jim NFL NFL team team and and keep keep the the Kansas Kansas City City Chiefs Chiefs It It speaks speaks a a certain certain hollowness hollowness that that I I think think this this kind kind of of corporate corporate social social justice justice campaigns campaigns often often involve involve the Kansas the Kansas City City Chiefs. Chiefs. Atlanta Atlanta Braves Braves in in Chicago Chicago Blackhawks Blackhawks are are among among professional professional franchises franchises that that continue continue to to employ employ Native Native American American imagery imagery on on their their jerseys jerseys in in their their team team names names and and in in cheers cheers by by fans fans has has become become a a very very normalized normalized thing, thing, which which I think I think is is common common place place with with a lot a lot of of systems systems and and forms forms of of institution. institution. Oppression. Oppression. These These things things we we don't don't think think of of them them in in the moment the moment as as being being particularly particularly egregious egregious because because they've they've become become so so normalized normalized in society. in society. Those Those franchises franchises aren't aren't following following the the lead lead of of Washington Washington in in Cleveland. Cleveland. None None of them of them announce announce name name changes, changes, though though Atlanta Atlanta is is reportedly reportedly considering considering no no longer longer allowing allowing the the Tomahawk Tomahawk chop chop chance chance at at games, games, and and the Blackhawks the Blackhawks went went on on to to say say that that their their team team name name and and logo logo symbolizes symbolizes an an important important native native American American figure. figure. And And they they aren't aren't moving moving toward toward formal formal change. change. It It reduces reduces you you to to a a caricature caricature there, there, 570 570 plus plus tribal tribal nations. nations. That's That's 570 570 plus plus tribal tribal cultures. cultures. Any Any kind kind of of idea idea that, that, like like there there is is one one kind kind of of Indian Indian is is very very reductionist reductionist kind kind of of view view of of US. US. President President Trump Trump even even weighed weighed in in this this week week via via Twitter, Twitter, saying saying the the names names of of Washington's Washington's in in Cleveland's Cleveland's teams teams Signify Signify strength strength and and not not weakness, weakness, and and they're they're merely merely considering considering the the change change to to be be politically politically correct. correct. The The president's president's statement statement in in the the very very decisions decisions of of these these franchises franchises do do raise raise questions questions isn't isn't important important to to distinguish distinguish between between the the offensiveness offensiveness of of each each individual individual team team name, name, and and is is any any of this of this iconography, iconography, actually actually honor honor or or respect respect the Native the Native Americans? Americans? Or Or in in same same team team names names and and logos logos on on our our native native people. people. Is Is that that merely merely perpetuating perpetuating cultural cultural appropriation appropriation and and the the use use of of stereotypical stereotypical Native Native American American imagery, imagery, Martin Martin says. says. It's It's not not that that slippery slippery of a of slope. a slope. If If you're you're saying saying our our mascot, mascot, our our team team name name is is not not as as racist racist as as Washington Washington NFL NFL team team still still an an admission admission that that it it is is races, races, Washington's Washington's head head coach, coach, Ron Ron Rivera, Rivera, who who is is one one of of four four minority minority head head coaches coaches in in the the NFL, NFL, told told The The Washington Washington Post. Post. It It would would be be awesome awesome if if the the team team changed changed its its name. name. In the In the National National Congress Congress of of American American Indians Indians have have long long opposed opposed the the use use of of Native Native American American stereotypical stereotypical imagery imagery in in professional professional sports. sports. As As professional professional sports sports franchises franchises are are choosing choosing to to reexamine reexamine these these issues issues in in the midst the midst of of America's America's reckoning reckoning over over race race relations, relations, they're they're faced faced with with a new a new choice. choice. Well, Well, economic economic pressures pressures determine determine if if they they choose choose to to rename rename their their teams teams or or will will they they listen listen to to decades decades long long calls calls from from Native Native American American advocacy advocacy groups groups to to eliminate eliminate the the use use of of these these emblems emblems of the of only the only reasons reasons happening happening so so swiftly swiftly is is because because their their this this is is something something that that native native people people years years of of ground ground Work Work into into and and so so what what this this moment moment kind kind of of larger larger cultural cultural reckoning reckoning has has become. become. It's It's just just kind kind of of an an impetus impetus to to say say Okay, Okay, Now Now is is the the time time to to finally finally get get rid rid of of these these things. things. Reporting for perspective. I'm Eric Mollo ABC News

Coming up next