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.

Only One Team….It Is Still Wrong

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Cleveland–the only MLB team with an irrefutably racist team name.

  • Racism:  a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. 
  • Racist: a person or action supporting racism, having or showing the belief that a particular race is superior to another
  • Race: each of the major divisions of humankind, having distinct physical characteristics

 

The team, the City anf MLB deserve the balck eye on the lake. 

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Hate Mail & Hank Aaron

Hank Aaron is working for the Atlanta Braves, still identifying racism through the hate mail he personally receives and the low number of African American players on the MLB rosters. Both situations are deplorable. Both situations are troubling.

I wonder, how much of both are tied to the fact that the MLB still endorses racism through the team identities exploiting Native Americans? Fans, seeing racism supported against one race, can easily believe MLB is racist, underneath public declarations otherwise.

Behavior and actions speak far louder than words.

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Only 1 Part Missing

Generally a good review of the history of the name and logo in Cleveland. One important part is missing–the 1999 lawsuit filed with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission against the Cleveland Municipal Stadium Corporation and the team, as well as prior lawsuits. What happened with the last lawsuit?

I know because I was a party to that filing. We did expect a negative ruling and received one. The overall legal enviroment and a few other cases led us to decide to find other ways to bring about the change. 

Now, with social media, increasing international play by the MLB and Cleveland getting attention and focus on this issue it is time for even the Dolan family and Mr. Larry Dolan to step up to the plate and take a really good swing at revamping the entire team identity. If he does not have the heart for the good of the game he needs to find someone who does.                             cover-1.jpg 

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MLB Is Losing Ground

Little League players drop out of baseball at agest 13-15. Sure there are other draws on young boys during those years but they also become aware of the more sublte forms of racism and discrimination. They want respect. How can they ever expect respect in a game officially, and still for profit, today naming teams after a race of people and still using a demeaning racist caricature like Chief Wahoo?

They know that Major League Baseball, at its heart, has never recognized the racism it perpetuates against the first people living on American land centuries ago and still living here today. They know by demeaning one people you demean all people. The Clevealnd City Council is considering calling for a change. The city councilors have to work on jobs, city services and education. Yet because the Cleveland team owners and the MLB refuse to address this issue wisely, comprehensively and effectively they take the time to call for change.

A few loud ill-informed fans do not a city make.  Make the whole city proud MLB, bring about the change called for, in the way you know we have been calling for it, the way I very directly and personally along with others have been calling for it for many years.

The young boys between 13 and 15 are smart enough to know they will not get real respect in baseball. MLB and MLB team owners–maybe you are surrounded by people afraid to give you this message, afraid to go against your well entrenched opinions and ideas, afraid to risk your displeasure, afraid to risk social censure in the inner circles of power.  Here I do say the truth to each of you: it is time to end the racism in teams, their names, logos and mascots. The teams you send from your cities across the country and out into the world carry the message of America’s pastime. What exactly do you think you and your teams are saying to diverse communities, indigenous people and the world at large? Do you stil really think across America the mothers and fathers of the younger generations are willing to teach this racism to their children in the 21st century? Do you think it makes America proud to look in the mirror and see this in our midst?

It is time to change. Come together, join with those of us who have been involved in this for years and who stand ready and willing to talk with you to design together new solutions.  Something truly new and powerfully great can start–it is starting isn’t it?

Sherrie A Noble