Jim Schulz of Elyria shows off his Cleveland Indians-mascot-painted head outside Progressive Field in Cleveland on Nov. 1, 2016. (Justin Merriman/Getty Images)

It is not lost on this writer that the name of the stadium where the Cleveland Indians play is “Progressive.”

Why? Because the name of the team that plays there and its mascot are anything but. In fact, the fire-engine-red, big-nosed caricature is ... what’s the word that white folks hate again? ... oh yeah, racist. The Indians’ logo and team name are patently offensive and racist.


And yet the organization recently announced that it will stop using the “Chief Wahoo” logo on its uniforms next year—mostly because Major League Baseball stepped in and, according to the New York Times, applied pressure to Cleveland’s CEO to change the skinnin’ and grinnin’ mascot.

Beginning in 2019, “Chief Wahoo” will not be seen at all on the team’s uniforms, or on banners and signs. The Times reports that Wahoo has assumed several forms over the years, first appearing on the Indians’ uniforms in 1948—coincidentally, the last time the Indians won the World Series. The Times reports:

In recent decades various groups across North America have appealed to the team to renounce the logo, to no avail. But over the past year the commissioner of baseball, Rob Manfred, has pressured Paul Dolan, Cleveland’s chairman and chief executive, to make a change.

Citing a goal of diversity and inclusion, Manfred said in a statement provided to the New York Times that the Indians organization “ultimately agreed with my position that the logo is no longer appropriate for on-field use in Major League Baseball, and I appreciate Mr. Dolan’s acknowledgment that removing it from the on-field uniform by the start of the 2019 season is the right course.”


But activists—activists who protest regularly outside the stadium while being heckled by so-called fans—are not so easily appeased.

“Why wait?” Phillip Yenyo, the executive director of the American Indian Movement of Ohio, told the Times. “If you are going to go this far and get rid of it, why not do it now? All they are doing is testing it out, because the name has to go, too. The nickname absolutely has to go. It’s not just the logo.”

Native American and image activists have decried the logo (and name) of the Cleveland Indians team for years. Protesters voice their opinion outside Progressive Field on April 4, 2014, in Cleveland. (Jason Miller/Getty Images)

As for Dolan, like any greedy corporate shill, he played both sides of the fence.


“We have consistently maintained that we are cognizant and sensitive to both sides of the discussion,” Dolan said in a statement. “While we recognize many of our fans have a longstanding attachment to Chief Wahoo, I’m ultimately in agreement with Commissioner Manfred’s desire to remove the logo from our uniforms. ... ”

Ah, yes, the fans who have a “longstanding attachment” to the way things were. Funny how the good ol’ days usually means going back to a time or place where a foot was firmly on the necks of people of color or women (two feet, in the case of women of color).


There’s also that thing where certain Americans bristle at the very thought of not being able to say, wear or do what they like. To which I say, have a modicum of decency. Research even shows that Native American mascots increase racial bias.


Put simply, it’s time for the Redskins, Indians and Braves to say bye-bye to these names and images.

Really, they have nothing to do with the game sports.

Ms. Bronner Helm is the Deputy Editorial Director at Colorlines. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.

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