Dear Cleveland: Your Logo is Offensive

Mike Klein, Contributing Writer

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     The Cleveland Indians recently unveiled a plan to slowly remove the infamous Chief Wahoo logo. For those of you who are not familiar with the cartoon, it is an offensive stereotypical depiction of a Native American who is in red-face wearing a headdress. The caricature has large eyes and a smile that goes from ear to ear. Needless to say, the picture is outdated and should be changed.

     The logo is offensive for a variety of reasons, but the most damming part of this whole controversy is the idea that there is a controversy over the logo in the first place. Major League Baseball and the team both agree that the logo is offensive and needs to be removed. The Indians have put out a statement saying, “we have specific steps in an identified process and are making progress [towards removing the logo].” To which I have to ask, why does there need to be steps taken?

     Both entities that have the power to remove the logo acknowledge it is offensive and outdated, but the team is still trying to hold on to its logo for no reason other than tradition. The irony in this situation is that the team understands the, “sensitivities of the logo and those who find it insensitive and also those fans who have a long-standing attachment to its place in the history of the team.” They do not want to ruin the historical linage of a baseball team, so they chose to continue to disparage the traditions of people who have been taken advantage of from the time Europeans landed on their shores.

     It is not like people are going to stop coming to baseball games nor will they stop supporting the team if the logo is removed. If the team acted swiftly and said, with conviction, that they are going to remove the logo, life would continue. People would continue to support the team and go to the games. Logos are in place for aesthetic purposes, and they are largely geared toward kids. This logo is telling everyone, and especially kids, that it is okay to satirize another race because, well, this is just the way things have always been done.

     Removing the logo will not impact the product on the field. The team will still be poised to reach another World Series, and their vaunted bullpen will still be full of the league’s elite relivers.  All this change would do is recognize peoples’ frustration with the proliferation of a symbol that is offensive to a minority group in America.

     We, as a society, stopped selling the confederate flag because it celebrated an ugly part of history. I do not see why the same swift action should not be taken with this logo. The name and symbol are offensive to so many, and the idea of keeping it because it promotes tradition is even uglier. What Cleveland is saying to the world is that they value the tradition of an offensive cartoon charter more than they value the tradition of the Native American people.

Mike is a Secondary Education and English major. He is an Orientation Workshop Leader and Writing Center consultant he is a contributing writer for The Voice.