Blogs are all about controversy, right? So here at the BLT, we'll roll out the introductory segment of something we like to call "The Burning Issue of the Week." (Although, truthfully, no one here has ever called it anything, since it didn't exist five minutes ago.)
Baseball season begins (surprise) Sunday night. My particular cross to bear along those lines is the team from the shores of Lake Erie, the Cleveland Indians. I've been a fan of the Tribe, as they are called, since I was four years old and going to games in old dilapidated Municipal Stadium with my grandfather.
Part of loving the Indians was embracing its mascot, Chief Wahoo. I grew up sporting the Chief on hats, jerseys, shirts and jackets. But no longer. These days, I've distanced myself from Wahoo faster than you can say "Alberto Gonzales." The reason should be evident from the image next to this post. I can't justify it. Despite mounting pressure, however, the Indians have announced no plans to dump the Chief. And as a team that frequently is in the top tier of merchandise sales, they have no financial incentive to do it.
A sidenote: I briefly taught at a community college out in northwest New Mexico, near the Four Corners, where the majority of my students were Navajo. One day, I showed them a picture of the Chief and put it to them: racist or not? The class came back at just about 50-50. And I guess I shouldn't be surprised, as this was a place where you could see many Native Americans wearing Indians caps at the local Wal-Mart. Some students, for sure, saw it as a demeaning racist image, others saw it is a tribute, and a sizeable bunch asked why it mattered at all as an issue in a place where alcoholism, unemployment and domestic violence ran rampant.
By the way, here is a piece I wrote for Legal Times about my time out there.
So faithful BLT reader, what do you think? And everyone, don't answer all at once.