HOUSTON — The caricatures on their jerseys were blatantly racist, so it was changed.
Their mascot was offensive, so it was booted.
The headdress and face paint were insulting, so the team strongly discouraged it.
We’re not talking about the Washington Football Team.
This is about the Atlanta baseball team in the World Series.
You know, the team that says it no longer encourages fans to do the “tomahawk chop,” and stopped passing out those foam hatchets and removed the Florida State University marching band music.
Instead, there’s a drum beat to accompany the tomahawk chop that is now mostly a hand motion. The stadium lights go out at Truist Field during each pitching change, with fans whipping out their cell phones, turning on the flashlights, and chanting for everyone to hear.
Apparently, as long as St. Louis Cardinals reliever Ryan Helsley, a member of the Cherokee Nation, is not around, the tomahawk chop is not supposed to offend anyone.
“I think it’s a misrepresentation of the Cherokee people or Native Americans in general,” Helsley told the St. Louis-Post Dispatch in 2019 when the Cardinals were playing in Atlanta. “Just depicts them in this kind of caveman-type people way who aren’t intellectual. They are a lot more than that. It’s not me being offended by the whole mascot thing.
“It’s about the misconception of us, the Native Americans, and it devalues us and how we’re perceived in that way, or used as mascots. …
“There have been schools who in the past 20, 30 years have changed their mascots. I don’t see why professional teams are so far behind on that.”
The Washington Football Team did it. Cleveland’s baseball team is doing it next season, becoming the Guardians. The Atlanta baseball team, however, has said it has no intention of changing.
Talking to reporters before Game 1 the World Series on Tuesday, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred made it clear the league doesn’t intend to pressure Atlanta – and even lauded the organization.
“I think it’s important to understand that we have 30 markets in the country,’’ Manfred said. “Not all are the same. The Braves have done a phenomenal job with the Native American community. The Native American community in that region is fully supportive of the Braves’ program, including the chop.
“For me, that’s kind of the end of the story.’’
While I can’t stop the tomahawk chop or make Atlanta change its name, what I can do is not acknowledge the nickname.
In recent years, I have tried to avoid using Atlanta’s nickname in columns.
I find it offensive, and after talking and listening to Native American leaders, friends and associates, it only fortifies my belief.
Copy editors have occasionally changed it in my copy because until now this has been my private stance.
Several readers picked up on the name appearing in my articles during Atlanta’s World Series run, and after talking it over with my editors, I have decided to explain my stance here and make more…
Read More: Atlanta baseball team’s racist nickname, tomahawk chop must go 2021-10-27 15:49:30