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Guardians

Junior Boyd approached Semple, sitting in a familiar spot on the park bench, with excitement, “I just heard that the Cleveland Indians are changing the name to the Cleveland Guardians.”



“Is that right?” responded Semple in a low-key manner. “I don’t know what they guarding. Not no championships lately, that’s for sure. But it’s the right move. They got rid of that dumb Chief Wahoo logo a while ago, so it’s a good move to go all the way. It’s sort of a Prince move, the baseball team formerly known as. Just like the Washington football team formerly known as.

“Not quite that, I don’t think. But it is a language, identity, and politics matter. We certainly don’t need Native Americans being names and mascots for Major League Baseball and National Football League teams. It’s offensive at best. As the late D-Knowledge wrote:


But then

This country

America

The so-called beautiful

Proclaims to honor

The native people

By naming sports teams

After them

Teams like

The Atlanta Braves

The Cleveland Indians

The Chicago Black Hawks

The Washington Redskins

The Kansas City Chiefs

The Florida State Seminoles

And

The University of Illinois Fighting Illini

But

That’s not honoring

That’s objectifying

That’s caricaturizing

That’s humiliating

That’s stereotyping

That’s degrading

That’s exploiting”


“Well, I didn’t know about Brotha D, and he got some big words in there, but I dig the to-do list. Cross the Redskins off. Cross the Indians off. What about the rest? I wonder who gon be next?”

“Maybe Atlanta, Semple. Keisha Lance Bottoms has been mayor for a while. The whole state of Georgia went blue in the last election, even elected an African American to the United States Senate. The stage was set. Then when Hank Aaron died in January, people started pushing the idea that to honor Hammerin’ Hank the franchise name should be changed to the Atlanta Hammers. You can even buy the tee shirts already. But executives said they would never change the name.”

“We’ll see about that. A lot of never people done had to watch stuff flip, like you saying. There come a time.”

“It won’t be easy. The brands are worth millions. That’s why the corporate types spin out all this community involvement talk, anything except change the brand. That’s what the Blackhawks are doing. It’s morally shallow. The Chiefs are following the same playbook. They consult “diverse” Native Americans who endorse the idea of keeping the name.

“Junior Boyd, that’s like getting together a group of African Americans to say Kansas City Niggers is all right. I’m sure you can find a group. I’m sure you can bribe a group. But the whole thing will change if people find a way to hurt the big pocket. These dudes is CEOs. They’ll change their own names, change they mamas name, if you change that bag. I think that’s some of what happened in D.C. These universities may be a little different, though. Fans and alumni wanna yell Seminoles and Fighting Illini until they last breaths. And I suppose the trustees are committed to letting them do it. I figure if a board didn’t want Nikole Hannah-Jones to get no tenure, a board ain’t gon change the name of university sports teams.”

“Those are different issues, Semple, and different boards. You like to mix and match.”

“Oh, I’m not so much worried about the style. I just had a question. What to ever do about Indiana?”


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