The Cleveland Indians, as a professional baseball organization, made the right move to remove the Chief Wahoo logo starting with in the 2019 season. The organization was stuck in between a rock and a hard place, with many around the country clearly pressuring the organization to outright ban the logo immediately, while a large portion of the Indians fan base was pressuring the organization to keep the logo on indefinitely.
The move felt like a solid compromise. While the organization made it known that they will be willing to move on from the logo, they gave their fans one more year to see the logo before it was completely removed, thus easing the transition. The MLB commissioner’s office had been nudging the organization to make this decision for well over a year now, and the Cleveland front office finally decided to make the call.
I completely empathize with the Indians fan base. Chief Wahoo has been a cherished part of the franchise longer than anyone can remember. It has become a part of the identity of the Cleveland Indians.
That being said, the logo was inherently racist. I disagree with the notion that the team should change their nickname to something other than “The Tribe” or the “Indians.” But honestly, I am surprised the logo lasted this long in the first place. It is one thing to have an Indian as a logo. It is another thing entirely to have a logo like Chief Wahoo.
Take a look at the logo for the Chicago Blackhawks. It is also of an Indian and named after a famous Native American chief, even though the owner of the Blackhawks named the team after the military division that he led in World War I. Notice the fair skin-tone and strong appearance. The person in this logo seems to be someone of strength and resolve. It conveys a much more respectable image. It is subtleties like these that can make all the difference in the interpretation of the logo.
Chief Wahoo, on the other hand, portrays almost a comedic tone. The logo has a wide grin with disproportionately large eyes and a large nose. Furthermore, the most serious issue with the Chief Wahoo logo is the red skin. Obviously, the term “redskins” has now been recognized as profane and is a racist slur towards Native Americans. The fact that Chief Wahoo has bright red skin only makes the whole situation even worse.
While I do not agree with their point of view, I do understand many Indians’ fans anger regarding the removal of the logo. To them, the logo is no different than the Blackhawks logo or that of the NFL’s Washington Redskins. With that being said, it was definitely the right move to make to move forward. I hope that the fans can at least accept their situation and understand the importance of this decision by their beloved team.