Should we get rid of the Cleveland Indians or have more racist team names?
By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. May 4, 2016
In early April, journalist and ESPN host Bomani Jones went on Mike & Mike wearing what appeared to be a Cleveland Indians t-shirt. But it wasn’t. Instead of the Cleveland Indians mascot, the wide grinning racist caricature, Chief Wahoo, it was a whitewashed spoof. This character had pale skin and instead of a feathered headdress, he had a dollar sign on his head. To hammer it home, in the same font as the baseball team logo, there was the word “Caucasian” printed on it. No doubt, the shirt was making a not-so-subtle message that racism can go both ways.
If you don’t have a problem with the Cleveland Indians, but you do have a problem with the Cleveland Caucasians, then you most definitely have a problem.
So much has been said about racist team names in sports. The resistance is what is most surprising. But then again, the fact that Donald Trump has so much momentum in the presidential race after giving bigoted, racially insensitive speeches perhaps dampens the shock.
I’m tired of arguing against racist team names that are so obviously racist. Let’s argue the other side for a bit. My question: why aren’t there more racist team names?
The thing is, America has a long history of racism—every country does. What I’m kind of upset about is that the Native Americans are really the only ones that get any spotlight as team mascots. As a Chinese person that seems kind of unfair, because the Chinese have been screwed over in America too. If the Native Americans get a team name, shouldn’t we get something along the lines of the New York Yellow Skins? Or maybe the Latinos deserve one before we get one… I don’t know what’s fair anymore.
If we don’t have a problem with the Cleveland Indians or the Washington Redskins, then surely we won’t have a problem with a team called the Cleveland East Indians or the New Mexico Rednecks. I’m just brainstorming here, but those are a couple good names to cheer for.
I’m not going to create a petition or anything because, in the end, I know that that would be wasted energy. So why not poke fun at it? Why shouldn’t we have a good sense of humour about this kind of stuff? See, the thing about making fun of racism is that certain people are affected more by it than others. It’s not hard to rile an African American person; we, of different ethnicity, know that magic word to do it. However, it’s apparently pretty hard to rile or harm a white person via racism. That is because Caucasians—the apparently politically correct term to call them by—have the majority of the power on this continent. A lesson here for the minorities: you don’t get what you want by making fun of the majority with power.
Here’s the proof that they have the power. They are the Patriots, the Saints, the Cowboys, the Vikings, the Yankees, the Rangers, and the Mariners. Are those names multi-cultural? Meh. Not really. These are titles that heighten the rank of white people.
I’ll end on a positive note. There are some quality team names out there that honour the culture that it was inspired from. These are the Kansas City Chiefs, the San Diego Padres (padres is Spanish for father or fantastic) and the Atlanta Braves. These are names that give power without discrimination.