Last week at the Wild Card playoff game in Cleveland, Ohio these fans highlighted the worst in the sport, the city and America: racial stereotypes used to minimize, dehmanize and inslut an entire group of people. I am NOT an American “Indian” but I am native to the United States of America. I am an American woman. I have been born and raised here, raised my family here and proudly call myself a citizen. I also love baseball–but not these people. In the world we share today, linked, connected and entwined in all ways they are clueless.
Fans? Try embarassments. To the players, the real team supporters, the team owners and all of MLB management: it is time for a change. You can and must do better. Are you going to keep your collective heads in the sand, clining to a romanticized past that never was or wake up and move into the world we share today, as in right now? History is what happened yesterday–the future is what you build today so are you building something thriving and vibrant, strong and exciting or complacently watching something quickly crumbling to dust?
If they wore black face, impersonated Pope Frances in a degrading manner or presented as any other religious figure in a well recognized uniform, or dressed in military uniforms–or half uniforms– and acted outrageously they most likely would have been removed. For their own safety and that of the others in the stands. In England and elsewhere riots happen in the stands and on the fields over team rivalries. Assuming today that this cannot occur here mostly attests to the professional care and efficiency of most security personnel, their policies and their training. Yet even permitting the seeds of violence to be sown is flagrantly irresponsible. The current Cleveland MLB team name and Chief Wahoo do just that. Why is it permitted to continue?
Do not ignore this racism since one way or another it draws attention. as it should. Value judgments based upon birth identity is wrong. Positive attention is good, negative attention fuels hatred, anger and hostility. We all know the type of consequences which those feelings can create so, for once team owners and management, be proactive, be leaders.
Fans, wear team colors but do not purchase any official MLB merchandise, for any team, anywhere and write to the team management to let them know why you are not helping them profit. Find solid charities working in the Native American communities and work with them, make donations and draw attention to the real issues faced daily on the tribal lands. Owners–find your leadership intestinal fortitude and personal strength and make the needed changes. You might discover your strongest critics now will be your most vocal supporters once they see a good change happen(and your profits increase). Media–keep the exposure on, tell the true stories, profile management, players and owners, throughout the MLB. Show and tell the realities in the locker rooms, the board rooms, the country clubs and the fan sites.
America’s pastime deserve change. Baseball deserves and needs real integrity. Cleveland deserves the best. This is not even close. We can and must do better.