We ought to praise the Cleveland Indians for their decision to demote “Chief Wahoo” as the team’s primary logo. But we just can’t do it; we can’t praise an organization that should have retired its demeaning logo decades ago.
Until now, the organization and its owners have fought all campaigns to get rid of the Chief, the cartoon image of a big-nosed Native-American warrior. The Dolan family proved as intractable about the “Chief” as Dan Snyder has been about dropping “Redskins” as the racist nickname for the NFL franchise he owns in Washington, D.C.
No matter that Native-Americans staged countless protests outside Progressive Field in Cleveland over the Chief; no matter that sportswriters, Black and white, had voiced their dislike over a colorful logo that offended their sensibilities – the Indians remained firm in supporting the image.
And thousands of fans did like it, a fact not lost on anybody who rooted for the team. The Indians profited from Chief Wahoo, who had adorned their uniforms and caps since the 1920s. It is that history and the dollars it generated that the team clung to.
Yet Americans should not cling to their racism, regardless of how profitable it is.