Cleveland Indians determining “best path forward” regarding their name, too

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The Washington NFL franchise isn’t alone in taking a look at its name. The Cleveland MLB franchise is now doing the same thing.

We are committed to making a positive impact in our community and embrace our responsibility to advance social justice and equality,” the team said in a statement. “Our organization fully recognizes our team name is among the most visible ways in which we connect with the community.

“We have had ongoing discussions organizationally on these issues. The recent social unrest in our community and our country was only underscored the need for us to keep improving as an organization on issues of social justice. With that in mind, we are committed to engaging our community and appropriate stakeholders to determine the best path forward with regard to our team name.

“While the focus of the baseball world shifts to the excitement of an unprecedented 2020 season, we recognize our unique place in the community and are committed to listening, leaning, and acting in the manner that can best unite and inspire our city and all those who support our team.”

Cleveland hasn’t faced nearly the kind of criticism that Washington has received, presumably because the Cleveland name isn’t a dictionary-defined slur. So the question as to Cleveland becomes more nuanced and delicate and necessarily driven by the input of Native Americans and the groups that represent them.

Previously, the team retired the cartoon “Chief Wahoo” logo that many believed crossed the line. Now, a broader look at the name of the team will occur. Unlike Washington’s announcement that a “thorough review” of its name has begun, Cleveland’s decision doesn’t create the sense that a name change is a fait accompli.

This same analysis would apply, potentially, to the Kansas City Chiefs. The name may not need to be changed, but the team may need to take a step back and at least confirm that the name still works, a gesture inspired by this moment of racial reckoning and awakening. Perhaps for both franchises, the end result will be that the names can continue but related activities should go — from wearing headdresses to games to other misappropriations of Native American culture to the chanting on the word “Chiefs” to replace the final word of the national anthem, a rebellion without a cause against the respect that so many insist be displayed during the playing of the song before every game.

Indians, Chiefs, and other names inspired by Native Americans aren’t racial slurs, so we’ll keep using them and not argue that they should be changed. This doesn’t mean that keeping the names will be the right path for these teams, and there’s nothing wrong with Cleveland’s decision to press pause in order to confirm that the name isn’t a problem, at a time when Washington finally has agreed that its name is. There would be nothing wrong with the Chiefs doing the same thing, and there would be nothing wrong with both teams keeping their names after consciously and deliberately concluding that it’s appropriate to do so.

41 responses to “Cleveland Indians determining “best path forward” regarding their name, too

  1. I was born in Akron 68 years ago and I can honestly say I’ve never viewed Native Americans negatively because of my loyalty to the Indians. I never thought Chief Wahoo was anything more than a cartoon; certainly not a real Indian.
    Having said that, I have no problem if my team wants to change their name. Being white, it’s not my place to say whether it’s offensive or not. I root for them because they’re my home town team, (even though I haven’t lived there for 40 years), not because of a name.
    Be the Grays, the Spiders, the Forest City’s for all I care. I like baseball and Cleveland is my team.

  2. My parents were born in Norway. So am I supposed to be upset at the Vikings? The whole world needs to lighten up

  3. It’s all too much like McCarthyism in the 50s when the Reds became the Cincinnati Redlegs.

    They always say how sports can bring people together. Maybe it’s time for sports to say enough is enough.

  4. vikings is not derogatory towards norse people, and equating this to McCartyism is a complete stretch, not even close to the same thing- reds to redlegs is not a racial slur , how do you even arrive at such “logic”?

  5. Time for a change.

    Most of the organizations have had multiple team names through the years, so people acting like changing it again is a big deal are the ones that need to lighten up.

  6. Walk up to a native American and call them “chief” and see if it’s considered a slur

  7. Happy to see the major league sports world finally “pulling out the weeds” after all these decades. “Redskins”, “Indians”, needs to go. Either work out deals with tribes like FSU did with the “Seminoles” or something more positive like “Warriors”. and for godsake get rid of racist cartoon logos from the 50s like Cleveland has.

  8. While the symbolism of the Chiefs might be in question, wasn’t the team named that because the nickname of the mayor of KC when they moved there (Bartle) was Chief?

  9. How about the Cleveland Buckeyes after Cleveland’s black league baseball team that played from 1942 to 1950.

  10. If the Vikings were called the Ofay Vikings you should be upset. Redskins is a racial slur. Why is this so difficult for some to comprehend?

  11. The Cowboys need to reach out to the LGBTQ community to make sure they’re OK with them using the name.

  12. Resist all you want, but change is happening. You can cling to the dark ages while the rest of us progress. You know, like humans have always done. The more things like this bother you, the more you have probably benefitted from the institutional marginalizing of people that aren’t white or male. My guess is most of the people who spout off on this site about mobs and silent majorities and snowflakes have never had their identity attacked. So keep resisting and kids yourself that going backwards is making things great again.

  13. The Tomahawk Chop (along with the accompanying music and chant) has to go more than the names of the Cleveland and Atlanta baseball teams or the Kansas City football team.

  14. The despise the Colts… so I’m going to start calling a particular ethnic group “Colts” and within 20 years the Colts franchise will have to change their name because it’s become derogatory.

    Society has become so soft that we can no longer tell a joke without offending somebody. It just so exhausting…

  15. I’m sorry but I’m not sure what is offensive with a name like the Indians?? Or the Chiefs, Blackhawks or Warriors?

  16. Up here in Canada, the term “Indian” is actually perceived as derogatory by the indigenous folk. I mean, as an individual with metis ancestry, it doesn’t bother me a single bit, but I suppose others let it ruin their day to hear it.

  17. Many years ago when I was in grade school, there was a native american kid in my class. One day during recess I asked him what kind of Indian he was. His reply has stuck with me for the past 50+ years.
    “The best kind”

  18. Although the Chiefs use Native American iconography, the team is actually named after the mayor of Kansas City at the time Lamar Hunt moved the team there from Dallas. He was called “Chief.” Maybe they could change their logo to a silhouette of the mayor in 1963.

  19. I like the Cleveland Rockers, since literature says it’s the birthplace of rock n roll music.

  20. The Patriots are gonna have to change their name pretty soon because to love this country is inherently racist….. according to CNN.

    Washington should have changed years ago obviously. Any rational person could see that. It never should have had to be forced on them. Change at the barrel of a gun isn’t real change.

  21. yourpoliticalpartyistheproblem says:
    July 4, 2020 at 12:32 pm

    The more things like this bother you, the more you have probably benefitted from the institutional marginalizing of people that aren’t white or male. My guess is most of the people who spout off on this site about mobs and silent majorities and snowflakes have never had their identity attacked.
    _______________________

    You mean white people? Look around, our identities are attacked every day. But since we’re white, nobody cares if you complain about it… so I guess you dont see it. Good luck walking through this life completely blind… oops, I meant visually challenged person of [insert whatever].

  22. Yes, just like the Confederates, wipe Native Americans from our history and collective memory too!

    /sarcasm.

  23. leeeeroyjenkins says:
    July 4, 2020 at 10:40 am
    Walk up to a native American and call them “chief” and see if it’s considered a slur
    ——

    I’d assume you’d get the same reply as you would walking up to a group of freshly graduated privates outside of boot camp and calling them General?

  24. Yea, good luck trying to get Chiefs fans to stop the tomahawk chop, and the loud “CHIIIIIEFS!” chant at the end of the anthem at every home game.

  25. Enough with the Cleveland Rockers stuff. The defunct WNBA team was called that. Bring back the Spiders.

  26. the tomahawk chop is for the atlanta braves, not the chiefs. at least get your team right dummy.

  27. They need to change this name too.

    And they cannot be claiming to “honor” Native Americans with the Cleveland Indians name because the name itself is dishonorable. Native Americans are not Indians! Indians are from India.

    So the name is not only inaccurate, but also offensive and not honoring Native Americans at all.

  28. So if an indian isn’t an indian now days what exactly are they? Now I could see where Redskins could be a derogatory term but Indians? NO WAY!

    BTW I worked with a 100% indian about 15yrs ago and guess who his favorite two teams were? The Redskins in football and the Indians in baseball, he saw those teams names as a complement to his Indian heritage and was very proud that the teams named themselves after Indians!

  29. stephanebonics says:
    July 5, 2020 at 4:32 pm
    They need to change this name too.

    And they cannot be claiming to “honor” Native Americans with the Cleveland Indians name because the name itself is dishonorable. Native Americans are not Indians! Indians are from India.

    So the name is not only inaccurate, but also offensive and not honoring Native Americans at all.
    _______________

    The name is not inaccurate, if you ask native americans what heritage they are not a one will say “I’m a native american” they will all very proudly say “I’m 100% ______ Indian” to include which tribe! And I probably met a 100 or more in Wisconsin and Minnesota when working up there.

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