Some Good News

Good News happens: another media outlet, this time an major one, bans a team name from its coverage. Congrats to the Washington Post for taking a stand against the Washington, D.C. NFL team name. I am issuing them a challenge: ban all racist team names and logos/mascots from their coverage, in all media outlets. That can be good important news. 

To the team owners: if you are concerned over possible peer pressure criticism at the rarefied heights you each live at why not be leaders in those circles? Change the conversation, start with the small comments, move to the larger forums and then if need be use social pressure to create change rather than reinforce the status quo.

Exploiting indigenous identities for profit is not a credible or smart position to hold in the 21st century.  Do you really think Native Americans have forgotten the past? I know they have not. The world has not forgotten. People everywhere do not ignore indigenous tribal realities today. They shape America, they shape our world, they shape your lives. 

Indians: The Name, The People, Christopher Columbus

Why is the name Indians racist?

It was given to an entire continent of people by a man believing in the superiority of his race and his religion. It also happens that he was lost, seriously lost.

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The origin of the name Indians for the indigenous populations of the Americas tracks back to Christopher Columbus. When he arrived in the Caribbean he believed he had found islands off the coast of China in what was then known as the Indies. Columbus named the people he found Indians. He died believing he had found the route to China from Europe. When Columbus arrived his mission was to convert the native people to Christianity, to send some of them back to Europe to study and to be studied, to ultimately conquer them and to exploit their natural resources.

Before his first voyage of Columbus had obtained a contract with the king and queen of Spain to receive 10% of all profits from his voyage or voyages. On the return to Spain he captured a few natives and took them back with his crew. On his second voyage Columbus sent a larger group of natives back to Europe to be enslaved. Many died from diseases they contracted in Europe for which they had no immunity.

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During the time Columbus was on his third voyage in the Americas his inability to adequately govern the colony he had established was recognized in Spain. Queen Isabella refused to accept the natives as slaves, returning many to their homes on future voyages. Additionally a new governor, Francisco de Bobadilla, was sent to the Americas to replace Columbus and his brothers in 1500. The new governor, with 500 armed men under his command,  had more authority than Columbus. To remove a combative Columbus and his brothers he placed Columbus in chains aboard one of Columbus’ own vessels for the return to Spain of the 3rd voyage.

In 1502 Columbus began his fourth and final voyage. Before he would again see Spain he would be shipwrecked on a Caribbean island for over a year, endure a mutiny on the island, be unwelcome in the colony of Hispaniola which he had originally founded, encounter Mayan traders on a river but neglect to explore their lands or culture  and find upon his delayed return to Spain that his single major benefactor, Queen Isabella, was dying. Columbus himself died less than two years later. At his death he was still insisting he had found the route to China and the Indies. He firmly believed that with the wealth in gold and silver soon to be found there Spain would convert the entire world to Christianity which would then soon bring the end of the world.

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This is the real Columbus, the man who named an entire continent’s people the name of the wrong continent. He did shape history. He did bring change. It is time to bring change again. Perpetuating his racist wrong essentially because this history is not widely known is itself wrong. It is time to banish the name Indians from the MLB because it truly is a racist name.

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Redface Insults Every Fan, Player, Manager Team and Owner in the MLB

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.

Where Real Change Can Start–Today

Something to Consider AND A Needed Change

I live near Cambridge, the city outside Boston where Harvard is located and whichis mentioned in the link. More change than highlighted here is needed: the parking on the streets in Cambridge is so cramped and scarce(and Harvard does not seem to build either new parking facilities or dorms) that parking spaces, just like student body acceptance places are “legacy.”

The point of the article, that social stratification is real, is long overdue. It happens worldwide and in all ethnic, social and racial communities. I personally would like to see the concept of “race” replaced by our identity as human beings and just maybe race re-identified as simply skin color, as we have eye color, hair color, height, weight. But we have to start where we are for that to happen. Any demographers, US Census folks who happen to read this, other writers, scholars–and even those who profit from the concept of race–think ahead and lead the change: no mare racial classification, change the datas point to skin color. Sould be rather interesting

Social acceptance, being part of the in crowd, the “right kind” of person is so fraught that I have a new suggetion: all legacy acceptances require at least a one generational skip–if either parent was accepted at any school they could not have their child accepted at the same school–perhaps a grandchild could apply but the grandparents could not pay the tuition(however creatively the accoutants and lawyers would try to mask the source of the funds). Moving to fully state financed education would take more time, of course but this could be a good start since the truth is: we neeed smart, diverse people to thrive in our smart, leading edge modern economy. Old family ties are less relevant to success than they have ever been throughout history–real success that is. Our world is networked and connected like never before so we all do need new solutions and new ways of approaching what were long established “norms.” Rebranding society, success and what is seen as social prominence(and economic/political/et al) would be a good place to start.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/29/the-glass-floor-problem/?hp