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Cleveland Indians Will Drop Their Name: Fight Against Racism or a Marketing Ploy?

Indios, Cleveland, El American

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105 years ago the Cleveland Indians got their name, but it looks like this tradition will come to an end. At least that is what The New York Times published in its exclusive report on the elimination of the term “Indians” in the name of the Cleveland team that plays in Major League Baseball.

For several years, Native American groups complained about the name Indians and their historic mascot, Chief Wahoo, which had already been removed as the institutional logo from the franchise’s uniform and stadium. The mascot was replaced with a “C”.

Indians, Cleveland, Indios
The “C” is also a historical symbol of the Cleveland Indians, which was placed into the logo. (Flickr)

But this year the racial issue intensified. The rise of the Black Lives Matter political and social movement, coupled with the media campaign to make the United States regret its “racist” past, is putting pressure on the sports world to bring “positive messages” to the cause.

Some may say that it is a bit of an exaggeration to say that within the United States there is a whole movement to make the country accept its “racist” past, but it is not. For example, CNN said this when covering the news of the name change:

“The decision to change the team name (…) comes at a time when America is coming to terms with its racist past. A summer of protesting the deaths of Black people at the hands of police has led professional sports teams, companies and even schools to reconsider branding, imagery and memorabilia based on ethnic stereotypes and caricatures.”

The debate on the use of “Indian” or “Indigenous,” for example, has been going on for a long time. From the field of political correctness, there has been a desire to completely eliminate the word “Indian” because of alleged racial connotations or because of a lack of accuracy in referring to people of the original nations. But some natives themselves have rejected that this term has racial connotations in various parts of the world.

But is this term offensive per se or does it relate more to the perception given to it? For example, to use the word black, at this point, seems unacceptable to many, but to many other people, including black people, it is not.

Fight against racism or media hypocrisy?

Now, beyond the news itself, a big question arises: is this a fight against “racism” or simply positive marketing to appease media pressure?

The Cleveland Indians are not the first sports franchise to change its name due to “racism,” as happened with a National Football League (NFL) team, the Washington Redskins.

In fact, the Times notes, “The move follows the NFL’s July decision to stop using a name long considered a racial slur, and is part of a broader national conversation about race that expanded this year amid protests of systemic racism and police violence.”

In the end what’s important about all this? Why things happen? Were the Redskins setting an example by fighting racism or were they simply bowing to media and sponsor pressure? The information suggests the latter.

The Redskins gave in to public pressure from Progressives, but above all from their sponsors. El País of Spain says: “Advertisers such as Nike, FedEx and Pepsi joined the social pressure so that the Redskins would get rid of the name and logo, a demand that the team has announced that it will comply with.”

In another article in El American, we read: “Despite a large body of research that has confirmed the employment of thousands of people as slave labor, the Australian Institute of Strategic Policy (AISP) has recently released a very revealing report. With specificity, the IAPE has cited more than 83 international companies of well-known brands such as Nike, Apple, BMW, Gap, Huawei, Samsung, Sony, Volkswagen, Adidas, Patagonia and Fila that, in collusion with the Communist Party of China (CCP), enjoy slave labor”. And yes, one of the ethnic minority groups that suffer most from the CCP’s abuses is none other than the Uyghurs. 

The Cleveland Indians also gave in

Something similar happened with the Cleveland Indians, the media pressure, as hypocritical as it is, made them give in. But the franchise has a big problem, because when they eliminated their mascot many fans of the team were opposed to the measure. If that happened with Chief Wahoo, with the name of the franchise it could be even worse.

Chief Wahoo, Indios de Cleveland, El American
Chief Wahoo, the historic mascot of the Cleveland Indians. (Flickr)

There are other professional sports teams that are under pressure to change their names, such as the Atlanta Braves, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Chicago Blackhawks. All have said in recent months that they have no plans to change their nicknames.

What we are experiencing in 2020 is, in essence, the ultimate advancement of political correctness. The narrative of systematic racism in the U.S. -and in so many other countries- is being adopted by big business, the entertainment world, the mainstream media, and the politicians of the day; it is something that is going to be exploited, and if you do not follow the path that has been laid out, there is a risk that you might be cancelled. That is why the “Indians” are giving in.

The reality is that far from being a fight against racism, it seems to be a protection of image for pure convenience. In fact, even by erasing the name “Indians,” the legacy of Louis Sockalexis, a Native American baseball star in Cleveland who died in 1913, and who had much to do with the name, is being left behind.

The question that best explains this is: Who is fighting racism and the oppression of ethnic minorities?

Option A: Neymar posting a “no to racism” Facebook post with an image of Black Lives Matter.

Option B: Nike, pressuring the Redskins to change their name while their company benefits from a kind of neo-slavery in Asia.

Option C: Griezmann, announcing its commercial disassociation from Huawei following the revelation that the Asian giant helped the Chinese regime persecute the Uyghurs.

Let the reader, in his/her judgment, choose who reliably fights for a just cause, and who only does it for marketing reasons.

Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón is a journalist at El American specializing in the areas of American politics and media analysis // Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón es periodista de El American especializado en las áreas de política americana y análisis de medios de comunicación.

Contacto: [email protected]

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