On Thursday, Dec. 27, MLB released the new batting practice caps for all 30 teams and a number of the new looks are pretty sharp (including the Cubs, who are bringing back the old red-billed caps). Unfortunately, one of them is already causing trouble for a number of fans and observers around the country.
The Atlanta Braves, citing one of the poorest marketing decisions in some time, have elected to do away with the simple, swooping A for the caricature you see on the right.
Usually I’d try to play this one a little more politically correct, knowing that there are a lot of fans out there who like the old-school, Indian-head look. But, when it comes right down to it, I just don’t have it in me to be understanding. That image is racist, plain and simple.
It doesn’t matter how long it’s been associated with the Braves or how many people might like the look; it’s a caricature of a human head based off of racial stereotypes. It’s a red figure with a big mouth, ear rings and a mohawk with a feather protruding from it.
Honestly, the fact that this type of thing is still socially acceptable by any measure is, at best, a little disheartening. Just imagine if we tried to substitute that image for a caricature of any other of America’s many ethnic groups. How well would that go over?
Imagine if the Philadelphia Financial Advisors rolled out a new mascot with features derisively associated with the Jewish community? Or if the New England Ebony pulled out a mascot with some of the better-known racial stereotypes associated with this country’s African-American population?
That wouldn’t happen, and for good reason.
But for some reason, when it comes to Native Americans, it’s all okay. I mean, in case you’ve let this slip your mind, there’s actually a professional athletics team – based in our nation’s capital no less – called the Washington Redskins. Honestly, can you imagine that in any other connotation?
The Blackskins, the Yellowskins, the Brownskins… none of those would pass muster. Yet, here we are.
It’s about time that sports fans stop brushing off an issue that’s once again (quite literally) rearing its ugly head. Unfortunately, we’re not going to rid the sports world of symbols and names that show a prejudice to the Native American community overnight. That said, there’s still time to make this specific issue right.
The Atlanta Braves organization should denounce, repeal and apologize for the ignorant image now emblazoned on their caps. It’s disgraceful.
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