Today’s beautiful, sunny fall day used to be described as an “Indian Summer.”
And to some, it still is – even if just in the form of a hashtag to accompany a picture of colourful fall foliage on Instagram. But just because you’re used to using racist terms like that, doesn’t mean it’s okay.
Along similar lines, you won’t hear long-time Blue Jays broadcaster Jerry Howarth refer to Cleveland’s baseball team as the “Indians” when he calls the American League Championship Series (ALCS) between Toronto and Cleveland.
In fact, he hasn’t said the team nickname on-air for almost 25 years.
— John Tory (@JohnTory) September 12, 2016
Yesterday, Howarth told The Fan 590 on the Jeff Blair Show that he stopped using team names like the Indians and Braves, along with terms such as “tomahawk chop” and “powwow on the mound” after an aboriginal fan sent him a letter after the 1992 World Series when Toronto defeated Atlanta.
He said it was “one of the best fan letters [he’d] ever received.”
“He said ‘Jerry, I appreciate your work but in the World Series, it was so offensive to have the tomahawk chop and to have people talk about the powwows on the mound and then the Cleveland Indians logo and the Washington Redskins.’ He just wrote it in such a loving, kind way. He said ‘I would really appreciate it if you would think about what you say with those teams.'” Horwarth recounted.
Howarth wrote the fan back and promised he would stop using the offensive words, and hasn’t since.
Jamie Campbell, who hosts Sportsnet’s “Blue Jays Central,” said in a Tweet that he will follow Howarth’s lead:
“Like Jerry Howarth, I will attempt to avoid using the name of Cleveland’s baseball team during our broadcasts,” he tweeted.
The issue gained traction on social media yesterday, as Howarth supporter’s accompanied tweets with the hashtag #notyourmascot.
But the awareness is nothing new – Cleveland’s home opener each season is met with demonstrations from protestors who call for an abolition of the team’s nickname and the Chief Wahoo logo.
For those not familiar, the logo features a grinning, red-faced character with a feather on his head. And no, it probably wouldn’t fly if it was revealed in a boardroom today.
As for the Indians, they have said that they understand the opinions about the logo, but will keep using it on uniforms and caps.
The issue is highlighted at a time when indigenous issues are front and centre on Canadian agendas, both socially and politically. In Toronto, street signs are even getting makeovers to reflect their indigenous names.
The controversy also comes at a time when we need all the lessons in political correctness we can get: Halloween costume-planning time.
Inevitably, more than a few people will flood your news feeds – whether you know them or not – with their totally ‘WTF-were-you-thinking?’ costume choices.
Nobody wants to be that girl or guy.
Just remember that cultures are not costumes (or mascots, in this case).