Poster Puts the Racism of the Cleveland Indians Iconography Into Embarrassing Context



It seems impossible to imagine that there are human beings in our society who don’t know it’s wrong to wear redface, skewer an effigy of a Native American Indian, or continue to support professional sports mascots that tokenize, demean or dehumanize Native Americans.

And yet…there it is, everywhere you turn. We have chosen not to share the most horrifying images here on The Good Men Project, but we did want to point out an interesting poster, attributed to the National Congress of American Indians, that gives context to how degrading and racist using Native images and iconography for your mascot really is (photo, above).

If you wouldn’t wear a New York Jews or San Francisco Chinamen hat, you shouldn’t encourage sports teams to use Native images, names or iconography.

As Douglas Miles, artist, writer, designer and owner of Apache Skateboards, and collaborator in What Tribe explains, the poster “embarrasses the viewer into realizing the truth about the mascot issue.”

The truth is this: Today, the only ethnic or racial iconography/imagery being used for team mascots in the United States is done at the expense of Native people, and that reality shows the depths to which we have forgotten about the mass genocide that took place on the land we occupy, and how profoundly we dehumanize the cultures of Native people.

I’m not saying not to love the team from your city. But we each have a responsibility to speak out against the abuse and exploitation of Native Americans, and not to promote these images by wearing them, sharing them, or buying them.

If you wouldn’t let this exploitation and dehumanization happen to anybody else—Asian Americans, Jewish Americans, Black Americans—then why are you letting it happen here?


Also read What’s the Difference Between Cultural Appropriation and Cultural Exchange?

*Author’s note: For a detailed history of campaigns to remove Native American Indian names and iconography from sports teams, visit this fantastic collection of information at

About Joanna Schroeder

Joanna Schroeder is a feminist writer and editor with a special focus in issues facing raising boys and gender in the media. Her work has appeared on Redbook, Yahoo!, xoJane,,, and more. She and her husband are outdoor sports enthusiasts raising very active sons. She is currently co-editing a book of essays for boys and young men with author and advocate Jeff Perera. Follow her shenanigans on Twitter.


  1. Let me just say that while some may say that the picture of their mascot should be updated, to which I agree, I do not find using various people to represent a team to be demeaning. Quite the contrary, I find that the reason these groups are used is because they convey strength, courage, and ability! I am of Scottish/ Irish heritage and am delighted when I see a highlander or an Irishman as the mascot. That is very flattering, so what gives?!!

    • (1) It is a little different for you as a white person, because racial labels do not carry a history of oppression for you. (2) Names like “Indian” and “Redskin” differ from names like “Irish” and “Highlander” because the former are names imposed on one race by another while the latter are names people chose for themselves.

  2. Paul Pierle says:

    My wife went to a school whose mascot was the Hurons (Eastern Michigan University). They changed their mascot to Eagles or something boring out of concern, although representatives of the Huron nation had publicly said they thought of it as an honor. (I thought, since the were EMU, they should have made it the fighting emus, but then I was a banana slug, so…)

    I find so many of these issues of social justice come down to an undefined point of realisticality. In other words, something is considered wrong or offensive to a group of others. Well, most people are polite, and don’t want to offend others, expecially not just for the sake of offense. In this case, they are using a cultural heritage as a mascot. I have no problem believing that the mascot was chosen as a celebration of and homage to that cultural heritage. Historically, racists may usurp words, or mascots, or whatever for nefarious idiocy, giving them a possible racist interpretation. So, what’s realistic?

    Is it ridiculous to be offended? Is freedom of speech a more important ideal than assuring that no one is offended? At TGMP, many of the topics revolve around the negative impact of some unfortunate assessments of men in general: the phrase “man up,” the dopey father image, etc. Some people–and many people, if this topic were brought up 50 years ago–would respond to it as so much crazy nonsense, but we’re beginning to accept these as legitimate issues. What makes something a legitimate issue? Is it the number of people affected? The degree of the consequences of the issue? Does it matter if even one person is offended?

    I think there is a compromise to be made on the subject. There’s an episode of “The Simpsons” where Homer’s dad tells him “I was always proud that you weren’t a short man.” I found this brilliantly funny, because it speaks to a culture that values characteristics that seem obviously superficial. Homer’s dad isn’t too bright, so he values superficial things like height; or Homer’s so void of positive characteristics that his dad can’t come up with anything else to compliment him on. So, if I’m a short man, I can choose to look at this as a clever lampooning of superficial cultural values; but if I don’t understand it, I might take it as a slight to short men. And if you’ve grown up a short man, you’ve most likely felt the sting of being disregarded for your height, (even if you’re taller than a majority of women). If a short man were to demand that the word “short” has become derogatory because it offends him, because it has the connotation of not being worthy of manhood, what’s to be said? In the end, it’s just a word of relative description with no judgmental application. The judgment comes from its negative use: its tone. The judgment also comes from its inference. In other words, a man may be described as short for no other reason than to describe his relative height, but he may infer unintentional negative connotations behind the description.

    This is a minimal example of offensive language; obviously there are words, mascots, etc. that carry much more of a negative impact. The line has to be drawn somewhere, doesn’t it? At some point, you have to admit that the person taking offense is being ridiculous. We may all agree that naming a team the New York N*ggers is offensive, R*dskins less so, Fighting Irish even less so, Braves even less so, Celtics even less so, Vikings, etc., but where does it end? At what point do we finally say, “here’s the world’s smallest violin; get back to me when you learn how to play it?” Because at some point, there is value and responsibility in developing a thickness to one’s skin. At some point, we have to demand that people have some sense of reasonability regarding their own status as a victim.

    For the record, I think Redskins is a bit insensitive, mostly because it suggests race (skin) and not culture, and paints too broad a stroke, leaving too much to negative interpretation.

  3. wellokaythen says:

    The Cleveland Indians’ Chief Wahoo icon is a pretty obvious example of something that’s just over-the-top. It’s hard for anyone to defend it. Even for an insensitive cynic like me, it’s impossible to see any redeeming qualities in it. There are some very valid reasons to try to get rid of it.

    One reason that it offends many white people is because it flies in the face of *newer* white stereotypes about native Americans. It looks obsolete because white people’s racist stereotypes have moved on to a very different set of racist stereotypes, and Wahoo just doesn’t fit the new racist boxes.

    Chief Wahoo is not the way that many whites want “their Indians” to look, because many white people can only imagine a stone-faced native. We like our Indians to look stoic, noble, slightly wrinkled, with a far-off tragic look in their eyes. We cannot allow natives to look happy or content or fully human, because if they don’t look tragic we can’t beat ourselves up nor pat ourselves on the back for “rescuing” them. When we picture them celebrating, if we ever do, we can only imagine a tragic ceremony. For some reason, to make ourselves feel bad and therefore good, we have to imagine them sad, never happy.

    It’s frankly inconceivable for many white folks to even imagine a smiling native American. In this sense, the cigar-store Indian stereotype is still with us. The anti-litter commercial from the 1970’s showing the tearful native was the start of long shift to a new, equally racist portrayal of Indians.

    Sometimes even when we think we’re leaving stereotypes behind we’re actually just shifting to a whole other set of them.

  4. I suppose it would be some small consolation prize to change the team’s logo. We won’t give them their land back, but we could at least not insult them so much. That’s literally the least we could do. Seems like a place to start.

    Of course, it’s really easy for me to tell a corporation like the Cleveland Indians to change its name, spend a little of its money, none of which is mine, and which doesn’t cost me a damn thing, only makes me look like a better person. Win-win for me, and tiny crumb for aboriginal cultures.

    A lot of other people have bloody hands from a history of exploiting indigenous Americans, but not me, of course. It’s always the other guy. If I called for every white person in the U.S. to donate all your land to the nearest native tribe, because it’s stolen from them, how many would respond to that call? None. Selfish, racist bastards. You’re accomplices to murder after the fact. Your mortgages are documents written in the blood of genocide.

    Not me, of course. My house is built on that one sliver of land never previously inhabited by anyone….

  5. It baffles me to that people are so confused as to why this is so problematic. I cannot imagine how a Native American child can possibly interpret seeing their heritage reduced to a mascot and their concerns about it degraded to being “too PC” . Why do these sports fanatics want to hold on to so ugly and violent???? Why is it so difficult to comprehend the concept of RESPECT?! I am not Native American but that does not mean I cannot empathize with a community who has had to and continues to deal with the blatant disrespect at the hands of those in power who’s willful ignorance makes them so arrogant and self righteous that they are unable to something so simple as to change a flippin mascot!!!!! It is that simple! Seize the opportunity to correct a wrong and teach your children how to RESPECT others, to NOT ignore history that makes YOU uncomfortable, to realize that history does not disappear and those who have suffered inherit those sufferings and just because YOU are not directly affected by it DOES NOT mean you have the right ignore those who are deeply affected. It is not very difficult. smh.

  6. wellokaythen says:

    Here’s something not theoretical at all. It’s real life, and it happened to me just yesterday.

    I was in the public library using a computer. At a computer nearby, facing me, was a man wearing a Cleveland Indians baseball cap. (I live at least a thousand miles away from Cleveland, in a city with its own sports teams, so an Indians cap is not a common sight.) My first thought was, hey we were just arguing about this on the GMP, and damn if that cap isn’t just plain racist.

    Then, my second thought was to notice that the man had dark black hair and somewhat brown skin complexion. I had to stop myself and wonder if maybe it’s a case of a Native American man wearing an Indians cap. However, if you forced me to put him into a racial or ethnic category based on his appearance, I would not have been able to say whether he was Native American, Hispanic, or Asian American. (I live in a very cosmopolitan part of a very multi-ethnic city, including many Native American communities in the region, so all of these are very possible.) He was as likely from the Philippines as from a Native American tribe in the U.S.

    So, how was I supposed to react to his cap? Before being disgusted with his choice, am I supposed to ask about his origins first and THEN I can decide if his cap is racist or not? If I were to practice aggressive consciousness raising and call him on it, I suppose I should determine his identity first. If he’s not Native American, then I can say “shame on you!” If he is, then I can say “cool irony, man!” Or if he’s half native American, I can say “you should be half ashamed and half proud!”

    I didn’t do any of that. I just kept glancing at him with a puzzled expression on my face.

  7. So are ALL native American images out of line, or just the caricatures, like the Indians’ Chief Wahoo? Is there any image/nickname depicting Native Americans that would be acceptible?

    • an actual NDN says:

      Not in the context of being used for anything unrelated to NDN culture. There is no need for white people to objectify natives and use our images for something completely irrelevant to who we are.

      • Alex Cole says:

        Perhaps you should mention that to Douglas Miles of APACHE Skateboards……

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          I’m approving this comment because a few of you seem to think that Douglas is appropriating someone else’s culture – Douglas Miles is a Native American man. His company is called Apache Skateboards because he actually lives in San Carlos, Arizona on the San Carlos Apache Nation.

          • Alex Cole says:

            I assumed Douglas Miles is a Native American. I was replying to the statement “Not in the context of being used for anything unrelated to NDN culture. There is no need for white people to objectify natives and use our images for something completely irrelevant to who we are.” Meaning, I suppose, that its ok for Native Americans to do it…just not white people. Is it ok for African Americans? How about Asians? My point is..your argument to stop somebody from doing something you think is racially insensitive is not helped when you are racially insensitive in your argument.

            • Joanna Schroeder says:

              Alex, AGAIN I wish you would do some research.

              Apache Skateboards isn’t exploiting the word “Apache” – it’s actually a large art and design project that is ALL about celebrating Native culture. They team up with people from other Native cultures for art exhibitions, films, and other big projects. It is, entirely, about culture. Check out the WHAT TRIBE work.


              Feel free to check it out yourself. It’s amazing. So proud to have Douglas as a part of The Good Men Project. He’s a talented artist and writer. At some point, I’m going to start getting PISSED that people aren’t willing to do their research before they bring his name into this.

            • an actual NDN says:

              it’s really disgusting that white people get offended when you tell them they can’t use your culture to their advantage. Miles doesn’t appropriate and abuse the images of his people for profit, he built a respectful company honoring his heritage. The “Redskins” don’t honor any natives, the team name doesn’t even specify a tribe, it’s just a racist depiction of the generalized “injun” white America built for themselves after trying to wipe out the real NDNs. You don’t get to be offended, as a white man, when someone asks you to stop actively oppressing them & their people. If you think skateboards can’t be “apache”, you’re probably imagining us only wanting to brand peace-pipes and tee-pees or whatever bullshit you think is only “relevant” to natives.

              thank you for this article, Joanna.

              • wellokaythen says:

                “You don’t get to be offended, as a white man, when someone asks you to stop actively oppressing them & their people.”

                I respectfully disagree. Fortunately or unfortunately, everyone is allowed to feel offended at anything. That feeling may not be justified, but I’m not sure how one would enforce a system in which a feeling is not allowed. This is the brilliance and the frustrating part of the right of free expression. I have the right to tell someone he is not allowed to be offended, even if I’m wrong about that. He has the right to respond by telling me he disagrees. This doesn’t mean I have a right to oppress other people, because I don’t. But, I’m not sure how anyone can stop me from feeling offended if that’s what I’m feeling.

                • Joanna Schroeder says:


                  The sentiment holds.

                  • wellokaythen says:

                    Respectfully, semantics are important, because semantics are entirely at the center of this issue. What does a symbol mean, in all its particular details? THAT is semantics. (Technically, maybe it’s “semiotics,” but there’s no need to be literal in all things. : – ) )

                    The specific details of the caricatured faces come with specific meanings for particular people. Semantics. What one person hears when he hears the word “Indian” is different from what another person hears when he hears the word “Indian.” THAT is semantics. Almost everyone in this discussion has been wrestling with semantics. It would be unfair, inaccurate, and counterproductive if I tried to dismiss Native Americans’ feelings by saying “Redskin” is just semantics.

                    • Joanna Schroeder says:

                      I think you’re right that I meant semiotics. Certainly people’s interpretation of words matter.

                      I mean, more accurately, that you’re being nitpicky about technical words that aren’t crucial to the heart of the conversation! 😉

              • Joanna Schroeder says:

                You’re welcome. I will keep trying to do more, best I can.

            • wellokaythen says:

              If my mother is Native American and my father is not, do I only get to use half as many images? Or I get to use the same images but only 50% as often? Someone take me through the math on this one.

              • Joanna Schroeder says:

                The problem is that there ISN’T any math to it. Life is shitty that way. There’s no math to people’s feelings. That’s why I think it’s usually best to start with this equation and go from there:

                If I do X, will it harm somebody? [Yes, No, Maybe]
                If I do NOT do X, will it harm somebody? [Yes, No, Maybe]

                Then you play through those scenarios.

                In this case, many many Native folks are telling us that it’s harming them in a number of ways – harming children’s self-esteem and identity as well as harming the way the outside world sees them. And this is a population with a LOT of hurt already – serious poverty and other social issues that can be directly traced back to the incredible amounts of systematic harm inflicted upon them even as recently as 60 or so years ago.

                What if we STOP using Wahoo the Indian’s image and maybe even change the name from Indians to something else that isn’t ethnic or racially-related? Who is going to be hurt?

                I’m being serious in saying that I do not know who is going to be hurt by that. Some people will be mad because they don’t want their mascot taken away, but the vast vast vast majority of people will be white people. But will they be harmed? Does it harm their culture or their self-identity to be the Cleveland Cleavers or something or another instead of the Indians?

                I’d say no.

                So that’s the math. It’s not precise, and that’s frustrating, but it’s the best we’ve got.

                • wellokaythen says:

                  That’s a fair way to look at it. I suppose the nitty gritty for the team owners would be how much it was going to cost to change the name and logo, but then again they would probably just pass that cost on to the ticket holders. The Devil Rays became the Rays without much effort at all, so it doesn’t seem like there would be much of a disruption. Hell, the NFL teams keep changing uniforms all the time to keep the merchandise flowing.

                  I have a much more radical idea. This is just me talking, it’s not meant to be a reaction to what anyone else is saying, just a slight tangent if you will permit me:

                  I think mascots are totally childish. They’re some sort of bizarre Western industrial parody of aboriginal culture. We don’t really need them. Why can’t a game just be “Philadelphia vs. Washington,” instead of “the Eagles vs. the Redskins?” If there are two teams from the same city, like New York, then call them by their boroughs, Bronx versus Queens or something like that. Somehow the soccer World Cup manages to get billions of people watching without any mascots. Somehow the Olympics manage to stir deep nationalistic feelings, and the only mascot is some bizarre creature representing the entire Olympics.

                  • Joanna Schroeder says:

                    I think that’s a great solution. Though not being racist may get the job done, as well. I see no need to make everyone change because a few racists don’t want to lose some of their multi-million dollar income to change.

                    But I can get behind framing it as Chicago vs Detroit.

                    Write that in an op-ed and I’ll publish it 😉

                    • wellokaythen says:

                      I can already see some problems that have always been there but would come even more to the surface. Many of our place names are anglicized or misinterpreted or offensive versions of native words (Sioux City, anyone?) “Detroit” is probably an English version of a French version of a local native word. All those places named after famous “Indian killers,” like Jackson, Mississippi, all those places named after slaveholders, etc. At some point we’d have to say, “close enough” or “neutral enough.”

                      The focus on mascots has been keeping our attention away from how deep a lot of this stuff goes….

      • Richard Rabinowitz says:

        What if it was a lacrosse team? As I understand it, Native Americans came up with that sport.

  8. Tom Brechlin says:

    i don’t see much uproar about A Chicago restaurant whose Communion wafer-topped hamburger offended some critics has offered no apologies. The 10-ounce beef burger comes with braised goat shoulder, white cheddar cheese and Ghost chile aioli. It also comes topped with a wine reduction sauce and an unconsecrated host — the blood and body of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. Blatant and intentional …

  9. Funny thing how most of the people getting their self righteous panties in a wad over such mascots aren’t even Native Americans. Most of the whining about it comes from Berkeley type libs looking for another crusade du jour to pat themselves on the back forsupporting. For the record, I have a Sioux grandfather and a Cherokee grandmother, so I have enough Native blood in my veins to have an opinion on the matter. Not only am I NOT offended, I was angry when my college, Arkansas State, changes their mascot from the Indians to the Red Wolves.

    • an actual NDN says:

      I value the opinion of white people who understand racism over the opinions of white people who try to justify racism by claiming they’re some minute fraction native, and have never been active in Native life or Native politics. If you get your “panties in a wad” over the the changing of your college mascot, you should probably reevaluate your priorities.

    • Enver Casimir says:

      “Funny thing how most of the people getting their self righteous panties in a wad over such mascots aren’t even Native Americans. Most of the whining about it comes from Berkeley type libs looking for another crusade du jour to pat themselves on the back forsupporting.”

      That’s a bold claim. Do you have any evidence to support it? Did you ask every single person who is”whining about it” and tabulate the results? Did you ever stop to think that some of those Berkeley types might have just as much Native blood as you? Lastly, just because you are not offended does not mean others with “Native blood in [their] veins” are also not offended. Your sample size is one. This is not a convincing presentation of evidence.

  10. Dan Spada says:

    I understand your desire to be politically correct and agree that we can be insensitive. However, this present issue does nothing but show your historic ignorance. Before you take a stand, DO YOUR RSEARCH ! Far from being an insensitive cognomen, the term Indian used here represents honor and respect. The Cleveland Indians derive their name from a member of their team in the 1890’s.. His name was Louis Sockalexis, a Penobscot indian from Ogunquit Maine. He was the first native american to attend Holy Cross College, a Jesuit college, and my alma mater,in Worcester
    ,Mass, in the 1890’s. He was a spectacular athlete, especially in baseball. He was signed by Cleveland and was so loved by the team and the city that the team was eventually renamed the Indians in his honor. The city of Cleveland’s attempt to honor a good man has, by virtue of ignorance of history and the drive for political correctness, been besmirched unjustly. As a journalist you should be ashamed of your lack of research.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Yes, Dan, I DID read about a little about history of the Indians. But to me, the origin is somewhat irrelevant when we’re given a mocking, red-faced, dopey mascot to represent this culture and race.

      The intent in the beginning may have been pride. But the outcome is racism.

      You should be ashamed of your ignorance and lack of sensitivity.

      • Calling someone ignorant and insensitive is an ad hominem attack that has nothing to do with their argument. My comments have been deleted for FAR less. I humbly suggest you delete your own comment.

      • If the caricature had no feather it might as well be any male. The artist that created this was asked to create a “character of pure joy” and that’s what I see…not the “dopey” person you see. It also was originally in yellow but changed to red and black for team colors and then red and blue for updated team colors.

        He’s smiling…where’s the mocking? Unlike the other two designs here which were clearly made to cause a stir. The first one might as well be the Mad Doctors and the second has ever racist detail with buck teeth, lines for eyes and the cap. The Indian logo is just smiling…and has a feather…would you feel better if the skin tone were different? Or is this style the issue? Do you get offended by caricatures done of you on the boardwalk or at kid’s parties?

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Wait, another question, Dan. When so many people whose culture this mascot is supposed to represent tell you it’s offensive, WHY do you think YOU know better?

      No, seriously. Why do you think you are the one who can decide what’s right and wrong for these people who aren’t you, and who owe you nothing? Native Americans don’t owe you being their mascot, so if they don’t like it, take it down. I mean, for God’s sake. It’s so simple.

      Imagine if the first team Jackie Robinson had named itself the Negroes. (Or worse, but Negro was an accepted term at that time). Yes, what a source of pride he was! He still is. But what if the mascot of the Negroes was of a dopey, smiling Sambo-character with skin as black as coal and red lips? Because that is what is happening with THIS race. Red skin, do you know any Native Americans? The range of skin tones are rich and diverse but none look like a tomato.

      Your history may make you feel better about endorsing this team. This player may have been valued, Dan, but that doesn’t mean he is being respectfully represented here.

      Again, you should be ashamed of yourself.

      • wellokaythen says:

        Let me jump in here with a pragmatic question:

        Does telling someone to feel ashamed really work?

        That hasn’t worked on me since I was a teenager. It seems cruel to try that on children and counterproductive to try that on adults. The only utility I can see in calling for someone to feel shame is rallying other people around the speaker. But, telling someone he/she ought to feel a certain way rarely works. If it really did work, the world might be a helluva lot better place, actually.

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          I was just reflecting the original commenter.

          Sometimes when I think someone’s being ridiculously hyperbolic I do that.

    • Jarad Dewing says:

      The Panawahpskek were overrun by Jesuits in the late 1600’s; it’s no wonder Louis was accepted into a Jesuit school. I bet all those white boys just laughed and laughed when they saw he could throw a ball. “Lookit the redskin throw! Who’da thunk it?!”
      Dan, take a minute to commiserate. Have some goddamn compassion, for a whole MINUTE.
      How honored would you feel if a team were named after your most stereotypical traits? If your highschool team were named after that aspect of YOU, that one you’re most afraid will get you ostracized?
      Big nose? Splotchy skin? Wimpy arms? Funny pants? Thin hair? Bad at math?
      Want to memorialized forever by a caricature of your most despised trait? Oh, so sad, you don’t have control over that trait, except you’ve been marginalized for centuries because of it and they have all the power….
      Yeah. Be ashamed.

    • steve croyle says:

      The Sockalexis story is a bit of false etymology. When the name was adopted in 1915 it was selected from Area sports writers and none cited the former Native American player. It would appear that the name was selected largely because the Atlanta Braves had won the World Series in the previous season.

      The name “Indians” probably wouldn’t be offensive at all, if not for that stupid Chief Wahoo logo. That makes the name dehumanizing, and it should be changed.

      As a life-long Clevelan fan, I would like to submit “stepping stones” as the new team name. The logo can be a picture of a player signing with a big market team.

  11. wellokaythen says:

    Talking about cultural, racial, or ethnic pride makes me a little uneasy. Ethnic pride is at best a mixed blessing.

    On the whole, the world today probably needs LESS ethnic pride, not MORE of it: white supremacists, Hutu vs. Tutsi, Arabs vs. Kurds, Han supremacists in China, etc. The Catholic/Protestant split in Northern Ireland is as much an ethnic split as a religious one. Certainly Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Balkan states could stand to lose a little ethnic pride. It’s hard to say that pride in one’s identity has helped humanity more than hurt humanity, especially if the twentieth century is any indication.

    Obviously what’s being recommended here is an increase in the pride of some groups and not others, or at least the idea that not all forms of pride are equivalent. Maybe that’s totally reasonable, but we should be honest that we’re not talking about ethnic pride as always inherently a good thing.

    • Both the US and Canada spent most of the 20th century trying to destroy the culture and identity of First Nations people, especially by taking the children away and putting them in boarding schools. Identity pride of cultures/racial groups which have been dominant may be problematic, but of people who are trying to rebuild/restore an identity so badly ravaged is not a bad thing.

  12. Vote with your Master Card, Google “Fighting Whites” and order a cap…

  13. Fighting Irish. Would erase that line about native Americans being the last acceptable racist mascot, but I like the article. The most frequent argument you’ll hear from pro/wahoo fans is that it’s a cartoon and therefore irrelevant. Perhaps the next article could be on how pop culture icons shape reality

    • The Fighting Irish = Notre Dame = an Irish-American Catholic school using the Irish name. Thus your point is invalid.

      If a group of First Nations people wanted to start a team called the Indians/Braves/whatever, I’d be entirely content to let them figure that out together. But these are not First Nations teams sponsored/owned by First Nations organizations.

      As a third-generation Irish American, I would say that I’m not 100% on the Irish stereotypes, but they’ve also not hurt me, my dad, or my Granna. And if a sufficient number of us decide the “Fighting Irish” are a bad thing, then we can take it up with the school and settle it in Intra-Irish-American fashion.

  14. As a person of Native descent I am offended by the use of Native caricatures and symbolism in sports. It dehumanizes and promotes a stereotype that diminishes Native culture the same way “blackface” does to African-American culture.

  15. Nice article. People like to forget we’re a still living race. They’ll say “Indians are all dead, so it’s okay to objectify them,” but the truth is, there are 3,000,000 of us in the continental US alone. That’s not counting people in Canada, people in Alaska and Hawaii, people in the Caribbean, people south of the border (like the Kikapu, originally from Wisconsin), people living abroad… I have nieces and nephews who have to stare at this junk. It really hurts a kid when the whole entire world refuses to see them as anything but a gross caricature–a joke.

  16. John K. Anderson says:

    The whole “but what about the Vikings and Celtics” thing is a pretty lame argument. As far as I can tell there aren’t lots of Irish American or Swedish America taking offense and calling for the names to be changed. If there were I would be open to a discussion about changing their names. But there are a lot of people, including people I know, of American Indian ancestry out there taking offense to names like the Redskins. People of American Indian ancestry should be the ultimate arbiters of what people of American Indian ancestry find offensive and if they are offended by something we should acknowledge that as a very real thing. I wasn’t personally offended by Miley Cyrus’s VMA show, but I accept there are lot of women (and men) who were and acknowledge that they have a right to that.

    • Enver Casimir says:

      I’m not so sure about your observation. The Notre Dame mascot is a Leprechaun – which is a mythical character based on Irish folklore. To my mind, an analogous costume for Notre Dame would be a drunken Irishman.

      • Joanna Schroeder says:

        The page of comments before this one addresses this issue quite well. It’s a very interesting conversation. For the record, if Irish folks wanted ND to change their logo, I’d support them, too.

  17. wellokaythen says:

    I think the poster makes a very clear point and has a very coherent message. It shoots for the gut with a simple message which is pretty clear to most people. If you’re looking for a simple, straightforward, uncomplicated look at racism, then the poster is perfect.

    Now, that being said, the conclusions and reactions to the poster here are all over the place, and some are pretty flimsy.

    First of all, no one can actually “derail” a discussion on this website. There’s no microphone that only one person can use at a time. Someone can reply with something that appears to be a tangent, and that person could even intend to derail discussion, but no commenter can actually silence someone else or derail or hijack the argument. To say someone is a hijacker or troll or derailer sounds like an attempt to shame someone who disagrees just for disagreeing. I think everyone has the right to call anyone a troll, and everyone has the right to accuse everyone else of derailing the discussion. That doesn’t mean that it actually happens.

    In fact, the “rail” metaphor is kind of chilling when you think about it. It suggests there is only a single acceptable way for this comment section to go. If the model we’re following is a train on a track, then anything even slightly off the pre-approved direction is a complete disaster. Not the best metaphor for encouraging lively, organic debate.

    Second of all, people who identify with a particular group already have the right to be offended and say what is offensive to them. I don’t think anyone is saying that Native Americans have no right to feel offended by the Indians mascot. People who are offended should protest as loudly as they want. The real, practical question is what to do with that offense. If the Cleveland Indians should change their icon, how are people going to make them change?

    Third, if we give more weight to people from a particular group in measuring offensiveness, we would still need to work out who “counts” as a representative of any particular group. If my father was “white” and my mother was a member of the Cherokee Nation, then do I get half credit? If one of my grandparents was Jewish, do I only get 25% of the full justified outrage? If we’re all exchanging e-mail messages back and forth without really knowing each other, do we just have to take people at their word that they are who they say they are?

    Finally, pointing out one historical type of racism does not mean that other racism is not so bad, nor does it mean that if one is acceptable all others have to be acceptable. Native Americans and Irish Americans both faced violent forms of racism. (On the other side of the Atlantic, there’s a good case to be made that the English treatment of Ireland was a dress rehearsal for their treatment of Native Americans. The later Irish potato famine was not necessarily a conscious attempt at genocide, but it sure looks mighty similar.) What are people saying, that “X people put up with it, so why can’t Indians put up with it?”

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Well, I don’t think anyone would say that a conversation gets technically derailed, but there is a generally-accepted use of the term in Internet culture that basically means manipulating a conversation to get away from the original point.

      Aside from that, you’re right. Whose voice counts? Whose doesn’t? My feeling is that is an unanswerable question, and as a white person it’s not my job to decide it for others’ cultures. In this case, I talked to the Native people I knew, did some research into who endorses changing the team names and who doesn’t (in this case, I looked only at the Indians and a little at the Redskins) and followed my moral compass to “change the team name”. I mean, basically it’s this: Who are you going to hurt by changing it? Who are you going to hurt by not changing it? And is there a place in the middle that would benefit both?

      And I agree. Citing one genocide doesn’t erase the validity or reality of any other genocide. It just happens to be that in regards to this poster and this conversation, what happened with the Native Americans is pertinent.

      • wellokaythen says:

        Looking back on it, I can see that I was being overly literal about derailing and hijacking. I have some sort of Asperger’s when it comes to metaphors. Perhaps “smartass-pergers” would be more accurate…. : – )

        I still think commenters overreact sometimes when it comes to the flow of discussion. Even “manipulating discussion” is a bit of overstatement. As a commenter with no moderating/editing power over the site whatsoever, I have no significant ability to actually shape discussion. Even if I wanted to shut down any particular line of argument, there is no way I could actually do so. My messages don’t stop anyone else’s messages. Everyone is free to ignore everyone else. I suppose it could be considered an inconvenience that someone has to move a mouse a half-inch to move past one of my messages. If that’s me destroying discussion, then what a flimsy, useless thing it is.

  18. I’m a huge Chicago Blackhawks fan. I’m curious as well as to whether or not their logo is seen as being as offensive as the Cleveland Indian’s logo is. I must admit, the Indian’s logo has always disturbed me a bit as it is very goofy looking (reminds me of DIsney’s Peter Pan’s “Indian” character designs) Meanwhile, the Blackhawk’s logo is much more graphicly designed and is often considered one of the best looking logos (or altogether jerseys) in all professional sports. I’d also like to point out that while the Chicago Blackhawks continue to use the 100 or so year old native american head design as their logo, their team mascot (the guy who dresses up in the funny costume) is of a literal black hawk (as in the bird) most likely in attempt to avoid offending anyone. I also wanted to point out that the Washington Redskins probably have the most racist/offensive team name, but at the same time have one of the least offensive looking logos out of all the Native American themed sports team names and ask what people thought about that. So I was just wondering whether people felt the same way about all logos/team names or if we were picking on the Cleveland Indians in particular because of the cartoonish nature of their logo?

  19. Using the name of an ethnic group as your team name is clearly bad, but why do you also have a problem with using their iconography? If there was a team called the San Francisco Dragons and they chose to make their logo a Chinese-style dragon rather than a European-style dragon in tribute to the city’s large Chinese population, what’s wrong with that?

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      What? This sounds like pure speculation. Let’s stick with the issue at hand, and that’s the Cleveland Indians.

      • The article brought up the issue of iconography, and that’s the part I’m disagreeing with. Using the iconography of an ethnic group isn’t the same as using the name of the group. If the Cleveland Indians named the team after a creature from Aboriginal mythology, would that be a problem (assuming the creature didn’t have religious significance)?

      • wellokaythen says:

        “This sounds like pure speculation. Let’s stick with the issue at hand, and that’s the Cleveland Indians.”

        Well, now, to be fair, the poster featured in the article included two hypothetical sports teams, so the whole point of the illustration was speculation. If the people who agree with you get to speculate, then the people who disagree with you also get to speculate.

  20. This is a really complicated discussion. I come down on your side, in the end. We had a rather virulent debate about this recently in the small town I live in. Usually, the “conversation” starts with the supporters of continued use of a name or logo saying that it is largely about tradition, and respect. This is eventually thrown into doubt, because as it becomes more obvious that they are on the losing side of the argument, accusations of “political correctness”, “stupid liberals”, or outright racist slurs, will begin to creep in. This, in any case, has been my experience.

    I can say, however, that I consulted two valued and locally high-profile Anishnabek friends about this issue when the discussion was being had. Interestingly, one was very much on the side of the people who created this poster – even using the same analogy – while the other was not really interested in the debate and essentially felt it was a discussion for more radical elements of the aboriginal community, and to the overly sensitive progressives who mean well, but end up getting the aboriginal community tarred with a broad brush. So, there was no real unanimity. (Of course, I only polled two people, so hardly scientific.)

    I’m not sure we’ll ever entirely get past this, unfortunately. But I totally, completely, take your point.

  21. The people being represented get to decide what is or isn’t offensive.

    I might not “get it,” but I should respect it.

  22. Just curious if much of the offense is because of the cartooned imagery? What if the image was not so “goofy” but more elegant and refined or realistic? Would the offense be the same? If not, then I have to wonder if there isn’t at least a little bit of hypersensitivity here, as it is a mascot, which are generally cartooned, and lampooned as a rule. I think the question articulated in one of the other comments is pertinent about whether one really associates the idea of that mascot or even the team name with a current situation or Native American culture in a real sense. It’s not as if anyone thinks tigers are cute and friendly or go around saying “THeyyyrrre GREAT!” just because of the Tony the Tiger character on the box of Frosted Flakes.

    It is a historical embarrassment, what the settlers did to the native people, but if we continue to have the discussion it doesn’t get erased from history or lessened to any degree by the existence of such caricatures. If anything, it may raise awareness of the lessons to be learned there, It is certainly not intended as any kind of anti-Indian propaganda in these current times.

    I don’t mean to be dismissive of it, only to provide another perspective on it and to ask questions to frame it in for understanding. I do get why a cartooned Uncle Remus type of character would be inappropriate to portray as a team mascot for say, the Cleveland Overseers or something, I just wonder if “racism” is really the right word for this sort of thing. What if it was a small town little league team instead of a city baseball team in the National or American League. Is the concept of a team named the Indians a problem in and of itself?

    The question is really what would you have them do about it that would be less offensive.? Do you think that they should abandon the name or just the mascot, and if just the mascot, what would you find a more appropriate symbol to rally behind? Is anything really safe from someone getting put out by this kind of identification with a stereotype other than if we are only going to stick with inanimate objects to use as team symbolism (because someone surely will become offended on behalf of an animal species if that is allowed)?

    Just saying, it is prescribed to be both slow to give AND to TAKE offense for a happy life and peace on Earth. Just because offense is taken doesn’t always mean there was injury done.

    Feel free to throw rotten fruit at me now… =)

  23. Yo, it’d be nice if people didn’t use Jews to make a point, seeing as how we’re already a mascot for an English football team, the Totenham Spurs. So much for solidarity.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Lazer, thanks for making that point. It is painful to see the depictions of Jewish people and Chinese or Asian-Americans. It makes you cringe, and that’s the point.

      I can totally see both yours and a previous commenter’s complaint that using racist images, even if the point is to combat racism, can be problematic. As a white woman, I’m not one to decide if that’s offensive or not, but I hear you.

      I took to heart the face that “Chinaman” is a slur where “Jew” and “Indian” are not necessarily (though certainly people use those terms in a pejorative). That was my first thought. I think the cringing we do at those terms and images is worth the point of the poster, but again I will defer to others on this.

  24. Saying that “not all tribes are opposed to teams that degrade our people is extremely short sighted. It’s a fact that not all Jews were opposed to the Nazis. So what? Cleveland Indians, Washington Redskins, and all the rest of them are just plain wrong and those who support them in any way are just as wrong. Imagine the tables turning and all of a sudden there was a law against it – including a law making it a crime to support these teams. What would your excuse be? How would you say to
    Your Lord God Almighty if he asked you on Judgement Day if you supported these acts? You’d be down on your knees begging then now wouldn’t you?

  25. Joanna,

    You’ve done a very good job clearly stating your point and making a concise rebuttal to any counter-points. Racism against Natives flies under the radar so frequently.


  26. Tom Brechlin says:

    Chicago Could keep the name but change the logo to a color black, hawk

  27. Tom Brechlin says:

    noun: racism – the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, esp. so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.

    Given the definition, I guess the only option is to change the names.

    • wellokaythen says:

      Using that definition of racism, all racial categories are racist. Using “race” as a kind of category is racist. Asking someone to check a “race” box on a form is an act of racism. (I actually agree.)

  28. Maybe someone should ask the Edmonton Eskimos that question. Or the high schools, colleges, and universities that call themselves “Savages” and “Redskins”.

    Where’s the outrage over “Savages”? In relative terms, that’s got to be considered much worse. Eskimo is a pejorative term as well.

    And if we want to take this a step further, shouldn’t we be eliminating any team names that are based upon religion? The New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have obvious Christian ties, and there’s a whole ton of bloodshed associated with Christianity. Why is there no outrage there?

    We need to inject a little sanity into the picture at some point. From what I’ve heard and seen from the Native people, they largely don’t care or have spoken out and said they aren’t offended. Why? Because they’re just words. They don’t correspond to actions.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Adam, can you show me an article where a person who is Native American writes about how they don’t mind if “Redskins” or “Indians” is used for teams, particularly with offensive images like the Cleveland Indians.

      I would like proof of that, because every person I’ve researched or talked with has been offended by it and wanted it to end.

      And, as I said above (if you read my comments) what matters here most is that this is a group of people who have been systematically oppressed, marginalized and have survived one of the largest mass genocides in written history, at the hands of the people who get rich of their names for their sports teams.

      If the Redskins or the Indians were owned by a Native American family or individual, perhaps we wouldn’t be having this discussion. But the fact that they are not is the entire reason we’re having this conversation.

    • Jennifer C says:

      Adam, here’s you go.. I am Native Canadian and an aboriginal leader… I find the image to be a mockery and a negative image that is used to make Indigenous people look like a joke. I’ve never smiled that hard, and yes my skin changes in the sun – but I’ve been that particularly red any day of my life. Had we chose the image I’m certain there would have been a more noble and respectful representation. I can say that I don’t mind the Black Hawks logo but these companies should be contributing to what they choose as their team representation. Even if it was in the form of providing sports related fusing or encouragement.


      • Joanna Schroeder says:

        Thanks so much for this comment, appreciate your input and voice here.

        Please know that we’d love for you to write for us, on issues facing Native Canadians or any other issue of interest.

        I want to be clear that I asked one of our writers who is of Native American decent if he wanted to write this article, and he encouraged me to do so. I would always give priority to a person whose direct story it is to tell, but I also believe that all causes need allies, and I hope to be that here.

  29. I’ve never seen what is so racist about choosing a Native American as a team mascot. The teams chose the mascot because they see the “Indians” as strong, prideful people. What’s racist about that? They wouldn’t choose a mascot they had some sort of prejudice against.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Because if the Native Americans themselves are choosing it, then it would be about pride. But they are not. We, the white ruling power in this nation, have chosen FOR them that they be our “mascot”. Beyond that, look at the image of the so-called “Indian” – is that image a source of pride for you, if that’s your heritage? No, he’s goofy and he’s dopey. Or else Native people are portrayed as “savages” which, as I explained above, was the propaganda used to make feel better about killing millions upon millions of the First Nations of North America. We don’t need to further that propaganda.

      Beyond that, the moment that the majority of Native American Indians say, “this is offensive” it’s your job (and mine) to shut up about whether it is or not.

      It’s only our place to decide that when it’s about us. For instance, I’m Dutch-American and I grew up in a Dutch settlement here in the US. Our local high school and college used Dutch iconography for their teams (Flying Dutchmen), and it made sense because we were Dutch. And if we (the Dutch) find it perfectly fine, then everyone else can be fine with it.

      But it’s still not equal because the Dutch are NOT an oppressed group in America who has been through massive, massive racism, systematic oppression and a mass genocide.

      You need to realize that it’s NOT up to YOU to decide if this is offensive. It’s NOT about you. It never was about the teams. It’s about a group of people who find it offensive (and many of us on the outside who agree and support them). You can give up your team’s offensive mascot for the sake of helping preserve the TRUE history and sources of pride for Native American Indians.

      • On the goofy smiles, are all the hats with faces like that? I can mainly only find the team hats with letters only.

  30. A start and a little history ….. NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks. Named after team founder Frederic McLaughlin’s U.S. Army battalion in World War I (which called itself the Black Hawks in honor of American Indians). The team executives Jay Blunk and Pete Hassen in 2012 joined Scott Sypolt, Executive Counsel for the American Indian Center on the North Side of Chicago, the oldest Indian center in the country, to view the 100-year old, 48-foot tall monolith called “The Eternal Indian,” which overlooks the Rock River in Oregon, Illinois.
    The 1908 statue that was inspired by Black Hawk, the leader and warrior of the Sauk American Indian tribe in the early 1800’s. “It’s one of the iconic statues across America that honor Native Americans.” The Blackhawk franchise is also working on renovating parts of the American Indian Center and build a sports complex.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Here’s how I see it – even if it has a history like that, where it wasn’t meant to make it seem like Native people are “savage” and therefore fierce and terrifying (which was the propaganda used to make the settlers feel better about the mass genocide and pushing them out of their lands), if they’re uncomfortable with it now (which they clear are, as many Native writers and activists have stood up and said) then that’s reason enough for us to change the names.

      • Be careful not to push your own prejudices onto the decisions of the original namer. It could very well be that they simply used the indian name due to misguided but positive reasons. Celebrating the native American’s, instead of harming them. Context is also needed, do they do any charity events for the issues facing native American’s? (I have no idea, first time I’ve heard of the team, I’ve only heard of the redskins before)

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          Archy, you’re right, I don’t know what the intentions of the actual founders of the Cleveland Indians were. But look at the image of the Indian on the hat. Is that positive, prideful and strong?

          Come ON.

          Beyond that, the propaganda used by the colonial White people to make the First Nations people seem like murderous, dopey, moronic savages is documentable. It’s a fact. I’m not making it up. It’s history.

          • valerieinto says:

            Here’s some of what I know from growing up around Cleveland, and spending the last few months there. We were always told the Cleveland baseball team was named after a Native player of the time, but I later learned it was just a variation of the Boston Braves (that’s another discussion). Some time later, in the late 1940s, a kid at a design company came up with what seems to be the real point of contention here: “Chief Wahoo” – a cartoon character meant to be just really excited and happy about baseball (Remember, this is intention – not result or effect). It’s weird that throughout my life, though this mascot clearly looks like an idiot, no one ever expressed thinking of him as stupid or inferior. I’m not sure why. One of the many times this mascot has been reconsidered, a player noted how much Chief Wahoo looked like the manager at the time, which was very true (of course, said manager was not a Native man). One small compromise has been that mascot is no longer depicted as a moving cartoon, as he would sometimes be on the scoreboard – the only depiction now used is the rather embarrassing red toothy face in that poster. As a logo, it’s rotated with a few others just based on the letter C or a script letter I.

            Of course, this changes nothing about how offensive it is – which is totally up to the judgement of Native people and how it makes them feel. I just wanted to give some context because you said you didn’t know what the intentions had been. I’m sure that Chief Wahoo will be completely phased out soon, and that very few Clevelanders will have any problem with that. While the mascot is a racism slam-dunk, I’m not as sure about the name, which is relatively neutral. But again, it’s not my call. It is interesting to note, though, that away from Cleveland, I seldom refer to the team anymore as the Indians – I usually call them The Tribe, for what it’s worth. Mainly, that’s because I’m in multicultural Toronto, and I wouldn’t want people thinking I was talking about people from India, who tend to prefer cricket. 🙂

            One of the unfortunate things about this discussions like this is that it’s some of the very few times Americans as a whole even bother talking about Native people. In Canada, First Nations culture and issues come up on a fairly regular basis – some very bad, some bad, some good and some terrific. Even the word “Indian” is not exclusively used (so maybe that team name isn’t so great); more often we hear and say First Nations (or the associated tribe) or Aboriginal. But in the U.S., the presence of Native people in popular culture and debate almost always involves discussions like this. I’d say that’s sadder than the image of Chief Wahoo himself…but to be fair, he is pretty terrible.

          • Does every hat in the game have a big goofy smile? Anyone know what style of cartoon that is? On google most hats I see just use a letter but some others have that comic style face, one I see has a big yellow moustache.

            In cases like this I prefer to go directly to the people in question, the native American’s around Cleveland would be a start. If they find it offensive then get rid of it, if they like it then I’d probably say keep it but be damn sure to be respectful.

  31. I’m Asian American and an outspoken anti-racist. I see the logic behind this poster, but I feel the message is clouded for two reasons:

    1. Ironic racism is still racism. The creator of the poster took it upon themselves to design two new logos based on racist caricatures. I realize the point of the poster is to make a comparison, but opposing racism while furthering racist caricatures undermines the message.

    2. An equivalence is implied where history and usage is much more complicated. Let’s compare three categories of mascots:
    A. Racist caricatures such as the New York Jews and San Francisco Chinamen.
    B. White mascots such as the Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish and Minnesota Vikings.
    C. Indian mascots such as the Cleveland Indians and Washington Redskins.

    It should be pointed out that Jew is not a racist slur, while Chinamen is a racist slur. Right off the bat, those two mascot names are not equivalently racist. I won’t get into which group has faced more racism, but I will raise the question of what race the Jew mascot is supposed to be.

    I think we can safely assume the Minnesota Vikings mascot was never used as a symbol to oppress Nordic Americans. However, the Fightin’ Irish mascot is clearly a caricature based on historical stereotypes of Irish and Irish Americans used to oppress and exclude them.

    Although the historic treatment of indigenous peoples in America was tragic and racist, and Native populations now face horrible levels of poverty, alcoholism, diabetes, etc., the question still remains of whether sports mascots contribute in any meaningful way to the problems Native people face today. Was the Cleveland Indians mascot historically used to oppress and exclude Native Americans? If the Cleveland Indians mascot is racist, then I think we have to admit that the Fightin’ Irish mascot is also pretty racist.

    • No, we don’t have to admit that the Fightin Irish is also racist. The team got that name because they were made up (mostly) of Irish Catholics, and they adopted the name themselves. I doubt that Cleveland’s team had many Indians, much less that they did and chose this name themselves.

    • “Jew” is most definitely used as a slur. Are you going to claim “Jewing someone” isn’t racist?

      • Joanna Schroeder says:

        “Jew” can be used as a racist slur if that’s the intent of the speaker, but most Jewish folks I know use the word “Jew” to describe themselves. So it can be both.

        But “Chinamen” is never used as a casual way to reference Asian-Americans. It is an outdated term that indicates a racist attitude.

    • Kyle Sleeth says:

      I think if Irish people protested the “Fightin Irish” name… it’d get changed. And I do think Asian, Native & Black activists would support such a protest (as you suggested). Irish logos we wouldn’t tolerate (but aren’t that far off):

      • It would be interested if any Irish did protest it, seeing as they’re across the pond. If we’re talking people of Irish descent, we’d get slammed for making an issue out of nothing, for various reasons.

        • Kyle Sleeth says:

          Perhaps. I’m guessing they’ll change it in the next couple years. I don’t like how mascots (especially animals) are always portrayed in fight mode. If we stopped viewing nature like that, maybe we’d be less afraid and evolve more.

    • “It should be pointed out that Jew is not a racist slur, while Chinamen is a racist slur. Right off the bat, those two mascot names are not equivalently racist. I won’t get into which group has faced more racism, but I will raise the question of what race the Jew mascot is supposed to be.”

      Does this sound like someone is trying to minimize the history of anti-Jewish racism to anyone else?

      • Joanna Schroeder says:

        I’ve thought long and hard on this and decided that the difference is that “Chinaman” is ALWAYS a slur and “Jew” is only a slur when the intention is to make it so.

        IE “I am from a family of Orthodox Jews” is obviously not a slur, whereas “He tried to Jew me down on the price” is obviously a horrible slur.

        But the intention of the hat is that of a slur, so it makes it equal. The person portrayed on the New York hat is not a photo of your friend Bob who lives down the street who happens to be Jewish. It’s of a caricature of Jews that embodies what people have said to stereotype Jewish people.

        I totally respect what the commenter is saying about the difference in the terms, but I think it’s obvious that the intent of the “Jews” hat in this poster is to be derogatory.

  32. I would just like to point out that not all tribes are offended by the images.
    Several years ago when the NCAA was making schools change Native American mascots, the
    Seminole Indians of Florida came out and openly supported Florida States use of the Seminole as a mascot . So I really do not believe that issue is cut and dry by any means.

    • I think partly it comes down to how it’s used. If they are making a mockery of things then it’ll be far worse, but if it’s just using them as a strong role model then some may be ok with it such as the the seminole folk. Celebration, not exploitation is the key.

    • They also get money from the university. I’m not sure this is support as much as a buy out.

      • wellokaythen says:

        My understanding is that the Seminole Nation, as an organization, negotiated with FSU and made a deal with the school. The Seminoles gave their blessing to the use of the name, and the school guaranteed funding for a Native American studies program and/or some sort of cultural center/museum. (Maybe even some scholarships set aside for tribal members?) The school also benefited from avoiding a potential lawsuit.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      The Seminoles believe it is a point of pride for them to represent the Florida team and I get that. The logo for the Indians is dopey and a mockery and the “Redskins” is generally hated for it.

      Of course not all Native Americans are going to feel one way, but I haven’t heard anyone who is Native American speaking up FOR the Cleveland Indians or Washington Redskins, though I’d be genuinely grateful for a link.

      • wellokaythen says:

        This is just anecdotal evidence, but I’ve been to a reservation where some of the teenage boys proudly wear Redskins jackets. Maybe it’s not even pride so much as irony.

      • Yup- Florida State works. Cleveland’s is terrible.

  33. In all honesty, while I agree the with the sentiment of the ad, as a New York Jew, I’d freaking love the NY Jews cap.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      That’s the thing – as it’s your own culture, you can celebrate it. If we, as non-Jews co-opt it, that ain’t cool.

    • I was going to say the same thing. I think the new York jew hat would be awesome. I would totally rock it proudly as a jew. I do agree with the statements concerning the Indians and redskins names, but that is an awesome hat.

  34. Kirsten (in MT) says:

    By the way, it is kind of odd to see an ad promoting Chick-Fil-A is appearing on this anti-bigotry article when I read it.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      That’s all targeted advertising. Almost everyone will see different ads based upon their search histories. Mine is for Purolator, which I assume references some search my husband did.

      • Kirsten (in MT) says:

        There is no way to get rid of ads for anti-gay businesses?

        • Lisa Hickey says:

          Hi Kirsten,

          We don’t pick and choose what ads come on our website. We have about 10 different ad networks that all buy ads in bulk and bid in real time for any slots we have open. Each ad network runs hundreds of different ads on our site. So while we would never go out seek businesses who are obviously against our values, we have no direct relationships with those businesses.

          It is part of the reason we have started the premium membership program. People who sign up to be premium members get to see the site with NO ads by paying a monthly or yearly fee. Once we have a critical mass of people who are bringing in enough money to keep us running as a business, we could start to be more selective with all our ad networks. I don’t want to say we have no control at the moment, because of course we do, but even finding the resources to manage the thousands of ads that come through the networks is time consuming and costly and not something we can do effectively at this time. Thanks for your concern.

          • Lisa,

            While I get what you’re saying, you COULD make a demand on your ad providers. Surely they can filter their ads, or you could choose to not use them.

  35. Kirsten (in MT) says:

    “The truth is this: Today, the only ethnic or racial iconography/imagery being used for team mascots in the United States is done at the expense of Native people”

    That is actually NOT true. For example, Boston Celtics, Minnesota Vikings, and there are arguably others. I think the issue is a bit more subtle than you are portraying it. There is a difference between ethnic iconography/imagery being used to represent a community as a matter of pride and being co-opted from another community and mocked.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Except this one HUGE difference.

      Neither Vikings nor Celtics were nearly obliterated as both a culture and a nation (or series of nations) by one of the largest mass genocides in the written history of the world, from which we (Americans) still benefit by way of land and resources which were never ours to begin with.

      Celtics and Vikings who are still living are not living in extreme poverty due to the mass genocide they endured and the forced relocation into the most barren and unfamiliar lands apart from their cultural and anthropological histories.

      I think you and I are agreeing, mostly, because it seems you see that it is mocking, but to me it’s not subtle at all. Jews and Black people in the United States have been marginalized and both have endured mass genocides (slavery for African Americans and the multiple times throughout history that Jews have been killed for their religion, including the 6+ million during Hitler’s reign.)

      It’s pretty obvious to me. Beyond that, are there people today who call themselves “Vikings” or “Celtics” – certainly there is Celtic history in the UK and Viking history… But is there a group of people who identify as “I am a Viking”? I’m pretty sure not, but I could be wrong.

      • Kirsten (in MT) says:

        I am agreeing mostly. I’m just pointing out that how you stated it is not accurate.

        • ElktoothChain says:

          What you’re doing is called derailing and it’s a way to use your white privilege to redirect, or derail, the point of a conversation about various -isms. Intentional or otherwise, it’s a perpetuation of white supremacy and racial discrimination. So stop. Vikings and Celtics and Yankees and whatever else are nowhere near the same thing as racialized, discriminatory and dehumanizing caricatures like these.

          • I agree Elktooth, all the comments attempting to show the cartoon like mascot is not racist are derailing – those attitudes are everywhere.

          • Mano de Nada says:

            But Yankee is a negative in a good part of the world, there are still Celts and Vikings and people who closely associate with those cultures, “black” isn’t a culture it’s a color, and finally if you’re so hellbent on being correct why are you calling them Indians? All you’re doing is perpetuating Columbus’ mistake yes?

            • Joanna Schroeder says:

              I’m personally not calling anybody Indians. There are varying opinions on what the indigenous people of North America prefer to be called. I have read people who say “people of the Indian Nations” or “First Nations” or “Native Americans” or “American Indians”… I am not the one to decide what is proper, I can only reflect what I’ve gathered from folks whose culture this belongs to.

              Also, who says “Yankee” is a racist slur? I mean, come on. Be real here.

      • Kirsten (in MT) says:

        Let me put this another way. There is a town in Montana called Browning, located on the Blackfeet Reservation. From what I can tell from various sources, this school was mostly built up by the community itself- not something that was imposed on it from outsiders. If that’s accurate, and the native community chose for itself Browning’s mascot- which happens to be the “Indians” -and iconography and imagery, that is a different situation than a bunch of white people running around making tomahawk chopping motions and fake war chanting during a football game.

      • What about the fighting Irish? There were white Irish slaves a few hundred years ago. At what point does the bad against a population reach the point where you cannot use their name for a sporting event? Is it due to location in the U.S? Time frame? Would a team with the name of “Polish” also be banned because of ww2 attrocities? Or how about the Ruskis? Over 20million or more Russians died in ww2 in attrocious conditions? Is it only when a large portion of the population has been removed?

        What are the criteria for NOT using a name in sports? Genuinely curious to know how others find offense, personally I think the indian name is bad unless the team were all native American’s due to the genocide, etc that happened. I do wonder if the Irish name is similarly a bad name to use in the U.K due to the stuff they had to deal with from the British?

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          Archy, Notre Dame is an Irish institution, therefore they profit directly from the name and named themselves. If they, in turn, decided it was offensive, they’d have the power to change it.

          That is the direct opposite of the Cleveland Indians or the Washington Redskins (etc)

          • Joanna Schroeder says:

            Sorry, someone informed me that Notre Dame is a French-founded school, not Irish. I didn’t look it up (I would’ve if it were an article), just based it on what my friend who went to Notre Dame said on his FB page.

            But I’m wrong about that – either way, I still go back to the mass genocide on American lands and the fact that the Native American Indians don’t get any say in whether this caricature of themselves is being used or not.

            • I just need to point out that there was a genocide of the Irish by the British concurrent with the native genocide. From Cromwell until independence the British killed millions of Irish.

              • Joanna Schroeder says:

                Again, as I said in my other comment, I’m talking about a genocide from which the oppressing group is directly benefiting from by using the image.

                • I guess it might be similar if a British team was using it although it is very problematic to even compare diff people’s struggles.

            • Jackson Bliss says:


              You’re absolutely right. Notre Dame was founded in 1842 by Edward Sorin, a French missionary from Laval. But, many Irish Catholic families sent their kids to Notre Dame, which is why the university has had a large Irish American population. And while there are many theories as to why ND’s mascot is called the Fighting Irish (some argue it was a racial slur from Northwestern students, others that the Irish called themselves this after falling behind in a game against Michigan), the point is that either the university (+ or the players) choose this name for itself, or the school embraced this name it received from the press. It COMPLETELY matters that the fighting Irish chose their name for themselves. It also COMPLETELY matters that this name came about back when ND’s student body was largely Irish Catholic too. For all of these reasons, it’s a false equivalence to compare the Fighting Irish (which is seen positively to embody a tough, hard-working, never-give-up attitude of its athletes) with chinamen or redskins since neither of these cultures/races CHOSE this name for themselves, in many cases, they’re not profiting off of their own commercialized racialization, and the teams have never had a large population of players of the same race as their mascot, so there’s never been a humanization of the mascot for either real or imaginary franchise either.

      • In all probability the indigenous people encountered in the Americas were the ancestors of the 3rd or 4th wave of colonists…. Nobody was a humanitarian back in the day.

        • this is the point i was waiting for someone to make. it’s true.

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          To be clear – you’re talking about rape as a war crime, right?

          • I think he is referring to the fact that the indigenous tribes who were here before European colonization had their places and lands because they took them from other groups of people that were there before them. Human history is pretty ugly; its rare to find any groups who are consistently “good guys.”

            I agree that the Cleveland Indian’s icon is pretty terrible though.

            • Joanna Schroeder says:

              That makes sense. You’d have to trace which humans crossed the land bridge before documented human history, however.

              But we’re looking at recent, written history so I think we can feel pretty confident about this cultural appropriation.

              Thanks for clearing that up. I honestly was shocked that Drew of all people would be citing the fact that rape was used against Native cultures as a war crime, to dehumanize and affect morale, as it is in many (if not most) wars in the world.

              • I recently saw a doco on caucasians, europeans, and the middle eastern people. Seems white folk went down from Europe to the Middle East, back up, down again, back up, rinse n repeat a few times. Heaps n heaps of wars, dodging hardships like droughts, harsh winters, etc so areas can have many many sets of ancestors I guess. Australian aboriginals however afaik were the very first here, predating anyone else by at least 30,000 years.

          • I’m sorry- where did rape creep into this discussion?…
            I’m talking about how the second tribe to leave Africa was either repelled or pushed out the first…
            I’m talking about how the Pacific Islanders marched from island to island terra-farming each new outpost by wiping out all of the indigenous plants and animals.
            About how the Celts we know were pushed West off of Europe less than a 1,000 years ago, and the people they pushed ended up in the sea.
            About how the horseman of the US Plains came up out of the west and as mounted Calvary took control of vast swaths of real estate…
            I’m talking about how emigration as we know it today is vastly different than it was 400 years ago.

            • Joanna Schroeder says:

              If you read through the thread, it will make sense. I misunderstood you. It’s quite clear.

              Also, others have touched on every point you’re making here in this discussion and it’s been addressed.

      • Jeff Mattson says:

        not that i don’t agree with you, but just as a historical point of clarification the Celtic and Gauls were almost entirely wiped out by Julius Cesar in 54 BC in one of the history’s largest genocides ever. so you’re statement about the Celtics not being victims of genocide is invalid.

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          Oh no, I know that’s absolutely true. Thanks for the clarification.

          My point is that the Native Americans’ mass genocide was on this land, here, where we live now and the most privileged group who did it to them are directly benefiting and profiting from this caricature. And the bigger point is how this mascot is depicted.

      • Look up the Highland Clearances. Done by the English to the Scottish. Their music and language were outlawed in an effort to stamp out their culture. If they refused to be “relocated”, their homes were burnt, or they were killed, or both. The Irish also went through similar ordeals. This discrimination also followed them here to North America. My grandmother, a native Gaelic speaker was beaten and punished at school for speaking Gaelic (All less than a century ago). There is more to the plight of the Native Americans than simply iconographic representations of their culture. It is a surface issue, that eliminating will not progress the situation.

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          I think drawing awareness to this issue will bring about a larger awareness of the issues faced by Native people in North America.

          Ethnic discrimination has affected a lot of cultures, but today, in this post, we are talking about the Cleveland Indians iconography and name.

      • Hi Joanna

        Not even in Norway do anyone identify as a Viking.
        I am pretty sure it is like that all over Scandinavia.

      • Jeff Nepute says:

        I appreciate the point you’re making here in raising the consiousness. In 2005, the American Psychological Association made a press release discussing a variety of research talking about the harmful effects this type of marginalization can have-

  36. KirsteninMT says:


  1. […] this image putting the culturally appropriated Cleveland Indians logo into a different context. Read the full break down from the Good Men […]

  2. […] names and iconography. I’m intolerant of the white folks who think they have some right to Wahoo the Indian or the name […]

  3. […] Poster Puts the Racism of the Cleveland Indians Iconography Into Embarrassing Context, Joanna Schroeder, […]

  4. […] from Joanna Schroeder, “The truth is this: Today, the only ethnic or racial iconography/imagery being used for team […]

  5. […] That post went massively viral. It turns out that the poster is years old, but since so much attention has been paid to the Washington Redsk*ns name of late (including a statement by President Obama saying that if he were the owner he would think about changing the name), the theme is current and close to many people’s hearts. […]

  6. […] in, little of it real or constructive. A friend of mine and colleague wrote the other day about the Cleveland Indians logo and why its racist, putting it into a cultural context that the readership would understand. I […]

  7. […] more on this and related controversies, see Poster Puts the Racism of the Cleveland Indians Iconography Into Embarrassing Context and NCAI’s New Report on Racist Sports Team Reminds Us of How Little Progress We’ve […]

  8. […] Also read Poster Puts the Racism of the Cleveland Indians Iconography Into Context   […]

  9. […] this week when we shared a poster created in the 1990s by the National Council of American Indians. If you haven’t seen it, the […]

  10. […] Source-It seems impossible to imagine that there are human beings in our society who don’t know it’s wrong to wear redface, skewer an effigy of a Native American Indian, or continue to support professional sports mascots that tokenize, demean or dehumanize Native Americans. And yet…there it is, everywhere you turn. We have chosen not to share the most horrifying images here on The Good Men Project, but we did want to point out an interesting poster, attributed to the National Congress of American Indians, that gives context to how degrading and racist using Native images and iconography for your mascot really is (photo, above). If you wouldn’t wear a New York Jews or San Francisco Chinamen hat, you shouldn’t encourage sports teams to use Native images, names or iconography. As Douglas Miles, artist, writer, designer and owner of Apache Skateboards, and collaborator in What Tribe explains, the poster “embarrasses the viewer into realizing the truth about the mascot issue.” The truth is this: Today, the only ethnic or racial iconography/imagery being used for team mascots in the United States is done at the expense of Native people, and that reality shows the depths to which we have forgotten about the mass genocide that took place on the land we occupy, and how profoundly we dehumanize the cultures of Native people. […]

  11. […] fresh and compelling take on why the Cleveland Team of Professional Baseball should change its […]

  12. […] what it means to celebrate. A recent poster from the National Congress of Indians (via the Good Men Project) sheds greater light on this issue. Simply put, they argue that having a Cleveland Indians logo is […]

  13. […] what it means to celebrate. A recent poster from the National Congress of Indians (via the Good Men Project) sheds greater light on this issue. Simply put, they argue that having a Cleveland Indians logo is […]

  14. […] October 5, 2013 at 4:23 pm What you’re doing is called derailing and it’s a way to use your white privilege to redirect, […]

  15. […] To read more of this article on racism against native Americans, click here. […]

  16. […] there is the argument that this is all just good fun and sport, so what’s the big deal? This controversial poster out out by the National Congress of American Indians kind of shoots this logic down. The […]

  17. […] Also read Poster Puts the Racism of the Cleveland Indians Iconography Into Context   […]

  18. […] Joanna Schroeder, Good Men Project: Poster Puts the Racism of the Cleveland Indians Iconography Into Embarrassing Context […]

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