By Gary Norris Gray-BASN Staff Reporter
“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
OAKLAND, Ca. — On Friday, July 14, 2017, the Cleveland Indians wore their dark blue road jerseys with the grinning chief on their caps and on their left sleeve in Oakland. What happened to that agreement?
The Indians will play the San Francisco Giants across the bay at AT&T Park Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday July 17,18, and 19.
In the winter of 2016, Cleveland and the Commissioner’s office had a meeting on the issue of Chief Wahoo. They agreed that the Chief would only be worn at home at Jacobs Field and would be phased out by 2019. Why change in 2019? Because the MLB All Star Game will be played in Cleveland in 2019.
This mascot has been in the city of Cleveland since 1928. The Cleveland Blues and Cleveland Naps are the predecessors and used the block C. The Cleveland Indians also used the block “C” until 1928. In 2015 the major television networks went to the block “C” when they advertised this mid-west team.
Charlene Teters makes it clear. Cleveland is the home of the most offensive racial icon in the country,” Charlene Teters, an artist and founding board member of the National Coalition on Racism in Sports and the Media, said during a demonstration outside Progressive Field on Opening Day 2010. “Don’t insult my intelligence telling me this honors me . . . It is ‘Little Red Sambo.’”
It is one thing of not knowing the significance of a sacred image or religious rituals and other thing to ignore it or dismiss it. The Cities of Cleveland and Washington D.C. can no longer claim this ignorance.
The Washington Football Club and Cleveland Indian fans have been told not to wear head dress or native face paint but they continue to do so.
1) Face paint is a spiritual and religious art and is sacred to the tribe It is also an act of social distinction and cultural heritage, but is a significant aspect in cultural and spiritual ceremonies and rituals. Last paint can be used to intimidate opponents in battle.
2) The head dress denotes the honor of the chief and the leader of the tribe. It also can signal the young male’s passage to adulthood and lastly the accomplishments and victories in battle.
The C in Karma is for the City of Cleveland
Professional teams refuse to change their names or their logos. The National Football League’s Washington Redskins and Major League Baseball’s The Cleveland Indians are most offensive and most defiant.
The Kansas City Chiefs (football), Atlanta Braves (baseball), Golden State Warriors (basketball), and Chicago Blackhawks (hockey) all have names and logos from the Native American Nations.
The Braves and Warriors have moved away from their Native American images without fanfare or fuss. Now the question remains why Cleveland and Washington continue to fight so hard to keep these offensive images.
Now is also time to ask: America, how would Americans feel if some of the professional teams had names or logos like, THE DENVER DARKIES, THE HOUSTON HONKIES, CHICAGO CHINKS, SEATTLE SLANTS, THE NEWARK NIGGERS, RICHMOND RAG HEADS, WILMINGTON WETBACKS? or even THE WASHINGTON STATE WHITE BOYS.
Does not sound favorable, does it?
In the 1970′s a movement by colleges and universities led by Stanford University in the west and Dartmouth University in the east changed their mascot and name. The Cardinal and the Big Green started a movement to be sensitive to Native Americans. It has been growing with each passing decade.
In 1950 there were 5,000 schools and colleges with negative Native American images. Today in the United States there are only 350 schools and universities that still cling to these Native American images. It is time to end this in the United States.
Here are some of the psychological and physical effects of using negative Native American mascots, nicknames, and logos.
1.) The misconceived and self-serving concept of having Native American mascots in these American houses of learning is dehumanizing and perpetuates inaccurate stereotypes. Native American children are learning that their ancestors were wild and untamed humans. Most American media often betrays this war-like violent behavior. Just watch any old black and white cowboy movie. We all know who the heroes will be.
2.) The United States Department of Justice stated that Native Americans are twice as likely to be a victim of violent crime than African or Asian Americans. Overall, poor people in America are impacted more by violent crimes.
3.) Most sports figures or teams have their own rituals, battle cries, maybe even imitating real battles and real wars. At the beginning of every Florida State University football game a male dresses in Native American warrior gear and rides out on his trusty horse. The Seminole rider gallops across the field with a flaming spear in his hand throwing it into the ground at the 50-yard line, thus signaling the beginning of the game. This ritual is executed time and time again. This performance perpetuates the stereotype of violent savage behavior by Native Americans. Wanting war against the opposing team.
4.) These five profession teams have cartoon-like characterization of mascots, i.e. Chief Wahoo of baseball’s Cleveland Indians. This mechanism is well known and often used during times of war to dehumanize an enemy. The result allows the portray-er to trivialize the concerns of the one being portrayed and simultaneously helps protect self-esteem by relieving guilt feelings. This was done also to African Americans after the Civil War, in books, songs, and poems throughout post Civil War America. The examples portray African Americans as shiftless, shady, and lazy people, Native Americans as wild beasts that cannot be tamed, Asian Americans as very smart. These are all stereotypes used for mascots, nicknames, and logos.
5.) Even the concept of having mascots or nicknames may be, in reality, an ego defense. Thus, the honoring of Native Americans, African Americans, or Asian Americans could protect one from facing the real facts of past genocidal horrors inflicted on the very individuals they are honoring.
6.) Having Native or African American mascots freezes time in a period one is more conformable with, never wanting to know, or never wanting to see the truth of past historical events. America has continuously run away from historical facts while trying to sugar coat horrendous events. Events like the Civil War are glorified not telling the historical trauma it caused the nation.
7.) The lack of political power, monetary power, and social power to demand the removal of these mascots maintain the status quo of institutionalized racism at college campuses and at the professional levels.
Our Native American Brothers and Sisters are fighting the same battles as our African American and our Latin Brothers and Sisters.
Native American political activist Ms. Amanda Blackhorse makes it very clear in her article.
“THIS IS WHAT DEHUMANIZATION LOOKS LIKE” that list her 18 points.
- The land grabbing of Indigenous lands
- The raping, violence, and hatred directed at Indigenous women and children
- The poisoning of our water
- The desecration of our ancestor’s bones and graves
- Each “redskin” (hair, scalp, nose, ears, genitals, and skin) taken off of an Indigenous person
- Each child taken from the arms of their parents and grandparents for the sake of “killing the Indian and saving the man”
- Each treaty that was not honored
- Every acre of land stolen from Indigenous people
- Every law passed since the Doctrine of Discovery for the sake of Manifest Destiny
- Every religion stuffed down the throats of Indigenous men and women for the sake of colonization
- Each smallpox blanket
- Every head of hair chopped off in boarding schools and residential schools
- The forced mining, fracking and desecration of Indigenous lands yesterday and today
- The sterilization of Indigenous women by Indian Health Service
- Each tribe which no longer exists due to the attempted extermination of Indigenous people
- Each tribal person who was exiled and relocated to urban communities
- Each person who has been subjected to alcoholism in the name of poor business or poor treaty deals
- Each Native person who has been experimented on and exploited for their blood, bodies, and DNA.
The Washington Football Club and Cleveland baseball team days could be numbered with the mounting wave of protest. Maybe a boycott should be in order. Tell the sponsors of these teams that we will not be buying their products.
Please read about the past sports mascots and help (AISTM) American Indian Sports Team Mascots and The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). Some of the information in this article comes from the NCAI, AISTM, Gibbs Magazine, and Black Athlete Sports Network web sites.
Post Office Box 410534
San Francisco, 94141
National Congress of Black American Indians (NCBAI),
Please contact us through the NCBAI Facebook fan page or by mail at:
National Congress of Black American Indians
P.O. Box 56274
Washington, D.C. 20040
American Indian Movement
Grand Governing Council
P.O. Box 13521
Minneapolis, MN 55414
Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE: – The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network on Blogtalkradio.com Disabled Community Activist. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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