Indians cave to MLB pressure on Chief Wahoo

by Cleveland Frowns on January 29, 2018

Today, the New York Times reported that the Cleveland Indians will stop using the Chief Wahoo logo on their uniforms in 2019. According to a statement from MLB commissioner Rob Manfred that cited “Major League Baseball’s commitment to building a culture of diversity and inclusion,” the Indians organization “ultimately agreed with [Manfred’s] position that the logo is no longer appropriate for on-field use in Major League Baseball, and [Manfred] appreciate[s] [Indians CEO Paul] Dolan’s acknowledgment that removing it from the on-field uniform by the start of the 2019 season is the right course.”

Wahoo’s retirement has been widely viewed as inevitable at least since 2016, when Major League Baseball was stirred to eliminate the logo due to the national embarrassment it caused during the World Series. Dolan announced last fall that the franchise “would come to an understanding” with MLB on Wahoo “before the start of the 2018 season and maybe sooner than that,” and also said the Indians and MLB were “not aligned” on the logo’s future.

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While the organization could have embraced this moment to completely rebrand and disassociate with the strain of white supremacy that insists on the right to make baseball mascots out of genocide victims, it has instead insisted on sustaining the impression that MLB has forced the issue. Instead of acknowledgment of the obvious wrong the logo represents, we’ll now have the disgrace of an entire season where the Indians will continue to wear a symbol that it and MLB have publicly agreed to be “no longer appropriate for on-field use in Major League Baseball,” and contrary to “the goal of diversity and inclusion.” Also, Dolan has confirmed that the organization is “adamant about keeping the Indians name.”

The Times further reports that, “consumers will still be able to purchase items with the logo on them at the team’s souvenir shops in the stadium and at retail outlets in the northern Ohio market.” This only increases the likelihood that we’re in for a wave of revanchism at Progressive Field, where the same appropriative displays of Wahoo, redface, headdresses and the like—the very things that caused MLB to act on the issue in the first place—will only be more prevalent. Early returns on social media certainly suggest as much, with voters in a Cleveland.com poll coming out at 90% in favor of keeping the Chief.

It’s hard to think that the Indians organization has done anything more here than endorse a message that it’s OK to embrace racism as long as we’re not too obvious about it. It’s even harder to think that such a half-measure could exorcise Chief Wahoo’s curse. While the removal of the logo from the uniforms is a good in itself, to have it come without a full rebrand is a lost opportunity. Those who insist that our institutions display a baseline level of decency toward all people should continue to reject an MLB organization whose branding is rooted in and inseparable from white supremacy, whether Wahoo is on the uniforms or not.

  • A J Sharp

    Will never understand the “thinking” here … if you’re giving up the logo, why not a full-throated mea culpa and apology? Even if it’s not genuine, it’s the right move from a PR perspective.

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      Apparently the franchise’s commitment to white supremacy (or fear of offending those so committed) is too much to allow for this.

      • whitey

        do you have evidence the ‘franchise’ is committed to ‘white supremacy’ & at what point will your feelings be soothed enough to be satisfied?

        • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

          1. I do. Here’s some of it. https://www.clevescene.com/cleveland/the-curse-of-chief-wahoo/Content?oid=2954423

          2. There’s no telling.

          Thanks for reading.

          • whitey

            like red mesa redskins? navajo tribe that choose the name of redskins? i know, they don’t understand how offensive it is…only the righteous, woke, white cuck liberal apologist can understand how offensive it is….maybe you should libsplain that to the navajo tribe

  • beeceeinla

    maybe we could remain the indians and adopt the logo of apu from the simpsons saying “and our beef jerky is now nearly rectum free!!!”

    seriously, i speak from what i consider to be a unique perspective. my parents immigrated to NE ohio from southern china and if the indians were called the chinamen/chinks and the logo had leering squinty eyes, buck teeth & glasses and a cartoon balloon saying “ching chong ching chong” it would bother me a lot. i experienced plenty of racism growing up in ohio. looking back at it, my level of outrage concerning specific events is now influenced by my perception of how much was perpetuated by ignorance vs. malice.

    i moved to southern california in late 80’s. it’s very different out here. i’m still a minority, but in many situations, there is no majority. while you can find the same kind of ignorant rednecks who used to harass me in ohio out here, they’re easy to avoid. in some cases i can actually benefit from prejudice, particularly in neighborhoods that are predominantly asian – and then become the klingon in a spanish speaking neighborhood.

    the point is, i doubt most midwesterners in general and ohioans in particular are aware of their capacity for provincial thinking. you can see it at an extreme in regards to the OSU/UM rivalry (i did undergrad at UM including four years in the marching band – so i’ve seen that side of it at its worst) and while UM takes the rivalry seriously, some OSU fans adopt a hatfield/mccoy personality about it with the most rabid behavior typically coming from folks who never even went to OSU. left unchecked, ignorance leads to malice in a fairly homogeneous group. and even if they get the chance to perceive how hurtful their attitudes are, some lack the capacity for empathy. so it’s not going to surprise me if some NE ohio residents never get it. it is what it is.

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