Woo hoo!

No more Wahoo.


Major League Baseball announced Jan. 29 that the Indians will bench Chief Wahoo for good. He will be gone from their uniforms, both their jerseys and caps, in the 2019 season. MLB said the logo is no longer “appropriate” for on field use.

What an embarrassment that racist logo has become.

Who in their right mind in 2018 would allow the portrayal of a Native American flaunting a giant nose, bright red skin and huge gleaming teeth? Even my grandkids know it’s wrong to portray any human being that way.

We wouldn’t allow a team to portray African-Americans or Jews in such an offensive light. 

If you aren’t offended by the caricature of Wahoo, perhaps you’ve never seen the caricatures of Jews in German newspapers in the years leading up to the Holocaust. The Wahoo caricature is eerily similar to those I saw at an exhibit in Warsaw of political cartoons from the 1930s. 

Those who love Wahoo claim the logo honors Louis Sockalexis, the first Native American professional baseball player who inspired the Indians ball club name.

But Ed Rice, author of the book “Baseball’s First Indian, Louis Sockalexis: Penobscot Legend, Cleveland Indian” wrote: “It’s clear to just about everyone who isn’t a Cleveland Indians fan that Chief Wahoo offers no honor, no respect whatsoever to Sockalexis, who died in 1913. Chief Wahoo only dates back to the late 1940s, when a young man sketched the crudest of American Indian images (some liken the original caricature – fairly – to the one Nazis used of Jews in their 1930s propaganda). Further, the original, vulgar design found acceptance in the late 1940s to early 1950s in an era when racial bigotry was a practical fact of life in U.S. society.”

Also, Louis Sockalexis was Penobscot, and 17 years ago the Penobscot Indian Nation Council asked the Cleveland Indians to stop using Chief Wahoo.

The team had eased Wahoo out these past years, using other logos like the block capital “C” and the word “Indians” in script. And thank goodness they didn’t bring the massive Chief Wahoo sign from the old ballpark to the new ballpark.  

No, that big Chief Wahoo is right where he belongs, as a history lesson at the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland.

The team will still be called the Indians.

Plain Dealer sports columnist Terry Pluto wrote that team owner Paul Dolan’s voice cracked during their interview about Wahoo. He also wrote that Major League Baseball and the team struck this deal:

“Fans can wear Chief Wahoo items to the games. There will be no Chief Wahoo police harassing fans at Progressive Field. There will still be some Chief Wahoo items for sale at the park. The Indians didn’t want to lose the merchandising rights and create a black market where anyone could legally do anything they wanted with the logo.”

Dolan told him, “Some people are impacted by the logo. Even if it’s a small minority or more than that, it’s a fact. In this day and age, that kind of caricature is subject to various interpretations.”

This “small minority” thing comes up often in the Wahoo debate.

Why are Native Americans such a small minority?

Because we massacred them. 

Some call it genocide. Others call it a holocaust. A few years ago The National Congress of American Indians requested that the Smithsonian Institution create space for a National American Indian Holocaust Museum. There is an American Indian Genocide Museum in Houston.

Look, I love the game of baseball. I love that last year when I brought homemade signs to a game, the woman on security detail asked me to take them out of my bag so she could read them. 

“No politics in baseball,” she said.

Good. Now how about no racism? How about no bigotry? 

No, they will still sell Wahoo in the gift shop. I bought an Indians sweat jacket last year. It was hard to find a jacket without the Wahoo logo, so I took a seam ripper and removed Wahoo. I sewed a patch with the Major League Baseball logo over the empty spot.

My daughter wasn’t happy. “You shouldn’t even buy things with the Wahoo on it.” She was right. And I won’t. 

I hope you won’t either.

Money talks. 

Let yours speak. 

Let yours allow Wahoo to fade into history, where he belongs.

Connect with her on Facebook at ReginaBrettFans.


Letters, commentaries and opinions appearing in the Cleveland Jewish News do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Cleveland Jewish Publication Company, its board, officers or staff.

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