Hold the applause. Team names changes for Cleveland, Washington are corporate compliance, not cancel culture
Cleveland Indians President of Business Operations Brian Barren speaks to media representatives during a press conference announcing the name change from Cleveland Indians to Cleveland Guardians at Progressive Field on July 23, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio.
Simon Moya-Smith writes that Cleveland should not be commended for changing its team name to Guardians.
Many school teams across the country still use abusive iconography and native words, including "savages".
Moya-Smith says the real work is confronting hardcore fans who find excuses for racist names.
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I was having my third, or maybe fourth, coffee in a eatery in north Denver when the news broke that the Cleveland Indians were finally going to drop their evil, racist mascot and nickname.
"Damn it," I yelled, sending a spark of echoing joy through the coffee shop.
Moments later, my friend and fellow native wrote me a text message: "Another down, one more ton of shit."
He's not wrong. There's still the Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Blackhawks, and Atlanta Braves. And they are only at a professional sports level.
High schools across the country continue to dig their heels refusing to give up names like "Savages" and "Redskins" and "Warriors".
"'Warriors' is not slander, and neither is 'Indians'," a native white man recently told me, who tried to joke to be as fresh as a week-old fish with a mundane attempt at an argument.
Using data from the online MascotsDB index, sports news site FiveThirtyEight has compiled the most common mascots related to Aboriginal culture.
"You totally miss the point," I replied, training the ogre with the raw facts: Mascots dehumanize and commodify an entire race of wonderful, beautiful people. They reduce us natives to caricatures and miserable, cheap costumes.
"And we're way more than that, man," I told him.
But he didn't hear about it and replied that he attended Lamar High School in Lamar, Colorado, where soccer games are a big topic for everyone in town.
The school's mascot: The Savages.
"Look, we don't call you a savage or all Native American savages," he began to explain. “We are savages. My son is a savage. My wife is a wild one.
"Then why is the mascot a native with a headdress and no picture of you or your son or your wife?" I asked.
"Why does it have to be a native? Change the mascot to a white person if that's the case."
This alumnus and his family could not tolerate changing mascots because it is their "tradition", something that they can pass on to their grandchildren for generations to come. How pathetic that the only thing this guy can convey is racism wrapped up as high school pride.
This kind of lazy rationalization happens when bigotry rests its ugly head and sports fanatics, local or otherwise, are among the most difficult people to understand.
Telling a die-hard athlete that your favorite team's name and mascot enable brutal racism is like telling a Bible-strong Catholic that their popes and deaneries made pedophilia possible.
Related Article Module: Indian Boarding Schools are not unique to Canada. Why one Lakota survivor calls American gravesites the "tip of the iceberg"
As a matter of fact. Serious devotion is hard to crack in any context, and it gets harder when sport is involved here in America.
It was no surprise that when news of the name change spread like wildfire, the most fanatical and arrogant sports fans denounced the decision, calling it politically correct or "P.C." - another victim of the "demolition culture".
Again, these tailgating donkeys are completely wrong. Let's set the record right:
In 2005 the American Psychological Association called for the immediate abolition of all Indian mascots, from the professional to the local level, as they have been shown to harm the mental health and stability of children.
There is nothing P.C. or cancel culture-y to protect the mental health and stability of children. And I can imagine the ogre would agree, even local kids whose cultures are his alma mater stereotypes.
Unfortunately, these bilious mascots are disappearing one by one.
There are still those few hold-outs like the Chiefs and Blackhawks and Braves, with the team making a statement in January that said, "We will always be the Atlanta Braves."
But it is only a matter of time now.
People are slowly but surely realizing that it is horribly racist and wrong to dehumanize and gamble another race of people, especially when wearing headgear and false war paint.
Note, however, that when Cleveland baseball club announced it was changing its name, it contained no excuse for decades of arrogance and ignorance and racism - though one is long overdue.
Her decision was not due to a sudden crisis of conscience.
It was pressure, the same pressure, that led the NFL's Washington Football team to finally change their name from a racial slur. Both teams had a good run to get away with, but no more.
We won these two battles, but there are many more to come as there are many more racist mascots spanning our stolen land. There are many more irrational arguments to rage against.
And there are certainly many more crazy sports fanatics to compete with, because just like Mr. Proud Alumnus, you do that as a responsible adult: you protect your children at all costs.
Right? In any case.
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