Native peoples roamed the western continent we now call “North America” long before the modern-day “American” arrived. Those people, inhabitants deemed “Indians,” were marginalized, expelled and even exterminated by European settlers. On the land that the European settlers stole was built a great nation, whose greatest pastime has become baseball.
In contrast to the European settler, the 21st century “enlightened” American takes care to be respectful of other’s opinions and cultures and even makes a point to avoid any form of insulting remark or stance. Disparaging names for minorities have become passé, discrimination based on race, gender or creed has been deemed immoral. The Major League Baseball Association has not grown with this trend. It has been continuously insulting the 5.2 million living “Indians” and the memories of countless others who have passed. Not one, but two MLB team names have overtly offensive names and mascots that negate and demean the Indian’s terrible hardship. The Atlanta Braves, and the Cleveland Indians are the culprits.
There has been much debate on this topic: some say that anyone offended by these names are merely being “too sensitive”, while others retort that a team named the Cleveland “Indians” is no less offensive then a hypothetical team: the “San Francisco Chinamen” or “New York Jews”. For me at least, it is clear that these hypothetical franchise names are clearly inappropriate. In todays socially conscience society it is beyond comprehension that the derogatory names have not been altered.
The debate on insulting the Native American community has been brought to light by many, while one important issue of discrimination still remains in the dark to most. While not rooted in as much historical strife, the name and mascot of the St. Louis “Cardinals” displays a huge amount of disrespect towards a group of prestigious Christian leaders. It is shocking to think that the St. Louis organization should pair the holy position of a cardinal with the image of a lowly and comical bird. Cardinals are known for their holiness and devotion to the church, while birds are known for their tendency to be found dead due to accidental altercation with closed windows. Come on, have some respect for the religious leaders.
I have met a cardinal and they look nothing like the St. Louis mascot. Their wings are not nearly so small as that birds, theirs are more broad and flecked with white and gold feathers. Cardinals are also often know for their thick and toned calves (a result from kneeling in the pews), clearly an attribute not portrayed by the wimpy red bird. While cardinals hold an esteemed position in society, and if they so pleased could fight on their behalf for a different name for the storied STL franchise, they do not. But I do.
The Native American population has spoken out and made it clear that it is important that we remember their culture, heritage and dark storied history, and it is important that we find more suitable symbols for those teams with inappropriate names.