December 28, 2012

Braves bring back "screaming savage"

Braves bring back 'screaming savage' logo on batting practice hats

By Chris ChaseWhen sports franchises go retro with uniform redesigns, it usually conjures idyllic versions of the past. The Atlanta Braves new batting practice caps are a surprising turn in the other direction.

Atlanta's new batting practice cap features the team's old "screaming savage" logo--a Mohawked Native American with a feather in his head engaged in a tribal yell. The logo was part of the team's uniform from 1967 to 1989. The team got rid of mascot Chief Noc-A-Homa (wait for it ...) two years earlier.

Paul Lukas of Uni Watch released photos of the new cap Thursday morning.

People are in a justifiable uproar at the return to the Mohawked caricature, as if they expected a more nuanced take on race relations from a franchise whose fans still do the tomahawk chop.
Really, Atlanta? Braves Bring Back 'Screaming Savage' Logo[F]or Natives, and much of the sportswriting/blogging world, seeing the logo again in use is very disappointing. That's the word used by Paul Lukas of, who is probably the foremost scribe on professional athlete apparel, in his ESPN review: "Unfortunately, it turns out that the logo hasn't been permanently mothballed. Disappointing. Grade: F"

Others had similar reactions:

"Perhaps ownership was sick and tired of the Washington Redskins and their culturally insensitive name remaining the most offensive rendition of Native American culture in this country," wrote Timothy Rapp of Bleacher Report. He added, "Atlanta should retract these hats immediately. The organization is better than this."

In a post tagged "racism," Tom Ley of Deadspin described the logo as an Indian "captured here in mid-shriek as he watches either a Braves home run or the forcible uprooting and assimilation of his culture."

"Hands down, the worst," was Trent Rosecrans' verdict at CBS Sports' Eye on Baseball blog.

Dylan Murphy of SportsGrid presents some pro and con Twitter reactions, but concludes that "No matter how the Braves PR department tries to spin it, the logo is racist–it’s just a screaming Native American head, emphasizing stereotypes and the emotional simplicity of a people."

Mascot lovers defend cap

As with almost any instance of racism and stereotyping, white people crawled out of the woodwork to defend their "right" to belittle others. Adrienne Keene tackled some of them, beginning with those who criticized Lukas's "Grade: F" above.

Dear Defender of the new Atlanta Braves Cap“Disappointing. Grade: F”

Read those vile and fighting words! Clearly he is calling each and every one of you a dirty, stinking racist. Clearly he is saying that you are the scum of the earth and that everything you hold dear is offensive to someone, so you might as well run around naked and live in a hole in the ground to stave off the “PC police” who are coming for you. Yes, by saying that returning to a tired, offensive stereotype of Native people is “disappointing,” that’s clearly what he meant.

Because in the comments, it seems you and your fellow sports fans have lost your damn minds. There are 30 caps in the post, 30 pieces of commentary from Lukas, but somehow, 99.9% of the comments on the article are concerning the Braves cap. You are so original to pretend you are a “pirate” and are offended by the Pirates, or that you are a “communist” and are offended by the Reds. Or Irish, or a Viking, or even more creatively, you’re an elephant who’s offended by the new A’s logo! L.O. effing L. Cause, yep, Indians are just like pirates and Irish and communists and elephants! All those folks are marginalized racial groups who have been historically oppressed and continue to have the highest statistics for poverty, and homelessness, and suicide, and live in third world conditions, while they constantly and repeatedly have their cultures and lives mocked and stereotyped on every corner. Yep! The welfare lines are just full of elephants this time of year.

And I’m so glad there are people like your friend “chrohandhaivey” who can tell me what I should be honored by and how “fierce” I “was”:Im tired of this native american racist crap…$@%! you should be honored your race is a team mascot…thats a good thing…it shows how fierce you were to be used as a sports team….its not like its the n****rs or something i mean come on…personally i wish there was an Atlanta team named the “White People”…Id rock the $@%! out of that with pride not complain about it like some puddinsOr your friend “canigs013″ who gave us a backhanded compliment by saying we’re “too smart” to care about mascots:for real. has anyone actually heard a native american complain about things like that? no, because they’re too smart to care about dumb things that do not matter.Nope, “canigs013,” you’re right. I’ve never heard of a Native American complain about Indian mascots. Nope, there’s not a Supreme Court case, or millions of news articles, or decades and decades of activism against the cause. Nope.

But I’m stoked that one of your other friends brought up the infamous Sports Illustrated poll that shows that 80% of Native Americans support Indian mascots. A poll from 2002. Here are 20 other things that were popular in 2002, and I don’t think you’d care to argue their relevance today. Though, who knows, maybe you are rockin’ your CD’s on your walkman right now while fearing a boyband anthrax attack. There are also a million other things wrong with that poll, including the fact that they won’t release their polling sample or how they determined who to interview. Read this article to hear all the ways that poll is ridiculous and shouldn’t be used in an argument a decade later. A decade later.

I really wonder if you know how you sound. Your arguments are tired, are weak, and are getting more eye-roll worthy by the day. How long will you stand by the argument that “PC culture” is ruining “your” America? I’d like to share this awesome quote by Dion Beary that sums up your thought process perfectly for me:“Politically correct” is just a term assholes came up with so they can dismiss people who have the nerve to want to be respected. Demanding not to be stereotyped is not political correctness, it’s a human right, and you are not some hero for refusing to respect people’s right to be treated like humans.I am a real person. Hi. I am a modern Indian who likes sports and doesn’t want to take away “your” beloved franchise. But the images aren’t yours to keep. They’re representations of me, and my people, and my ancestors, and I should have the right to control them. And you see, the thing is, times change. While maybe at one time (though I’m gonna stand by the fact that it’s never been acceptable) these images were deemed “A-ok,” we’re not in that time anymore. In the not-so-distant past, folks were lamenting the loss of the minstrel show as a lovely form of family entertainment, or demanding that black folks use separate water fountains. Which side of the fight do you really want to be on?
The Womanist blog also tackled some of the mascot lovers' comments:

The Problem With the New Braves Practice HatThe aforementioned is only a small smattering of the racist commentary about the hat. There were a few reoccurring themes:

Native People should be proud of the representation and that it is actually complimentary to their culture.

Being upset is silly and there are more serious issues in the world than this hat

Being upset about the hat is a symptom of a leftist politically correct culture, which infringes on free speech.

Native People should be thankful because Whiteness does not get to be celebrated in the same vein

It could be worse and what about teams like Notre Dame and the offensiveness of the drunken fighting Irish stereotype?

The very idea that having your culture demonized and reduced to an insensitive racist caricature should be deemed a positive and something to be proud of is beyond a twisting of the truth. It speaks to a complete desire to silence any form of dissent and it further suggests that Native People should not have the right to define themselves as they see fit. It is not for those outside of the Native American community to set the agenda for organizing. If you do not belong to the group in question, you cannot possible understand the impact of racist caricatures used by sports team because you don't have to live with the consequences. It is important to note that there are no social stereotypes that specifically demonize Whiteness and even more accurately, regardless of context, Whiteness is deemed to be the universal good.

The lack of celebration of Whiteness is something that would amuse me because of the ridiculousness of the claim, if the concept itself didn't completely depress me. The only reason people can complain that Whiteness is not celebrated, is because it has become so ubiquitous. You don't need a special hat, or television station to celebrate something that is so socially ingrained. White culture, and White pride are everywhere you look and they appear in a multitude of fashions.

One of the most common comments I saw was the continual suggestion that complaining about racism is being politically correct. Just like asshats how stand behind their freedom of speech to say the most reprehensible things, the people who go on about politically correct speech want the freedom to say whatever they desire without being held accountable for the hateful shit that they regularly spew. The very idea that a demand to be respectful to marginalized people reduces the English language to newspeak is asinine at best. It's not politically correct to avoid hate speech, it's called being a decent human being. The reason they have such an issue with the idea that it is wrong to attack historically marginalized people is not from a fear of losing the ability to express thoughts or ideas, but because it represents a limitation of their ability to maintain and advance their undeserved social power and privilege.
Rob weighs in

One mascot lover wrote a whole column defending the cap:

Braves BP Cap Is Perfectly Fine, Settle Down

By JR FrancisSomehow the people who don’t like the logo keep referring to it as the “Screaming Savage” even as the logo itself is quite obviously laughing. There is a smile on his face. No one with the Braves or the MLB calls him that, and that has not been the implication. But don’t let the facts get in the way of a good hissy fit.

Let’s not forget what this logo is, or why it is there; It is an almost exact implementation of a logo the team first used 58 years ago when they were located in Milwaukee. This isn’t a team breaking new ground into imagery that might possibly offend, this is a team paying tribute to their logos past, to an image many, many Braves fans have seen their whole lives, who associate it with good times of watching baseball. And who buy massive quantities of throwback merchandise with this logo and its variations.

This is not some old logo, relegated to the dustbin for lack of interest. It is one of the prime identifying marks of the team, and it is popular. It is available as a FatHead everywhere on hundreds of different tshirts, and fills the Atlanta Braves Team Store in the CNN Center, and inside the stadium. During the season, thousands wear gear with this logo.
Some admirers said this column was "perfect" and they loved it. To which I responded:

The people who "love" this article must've skipped the parts about how old and popular the clownish mascot is. Because those arguments are irrelevant and have nothing to do with the current protests.

"It shows them as selfless, honorable, and to be respected." Hee-hawing like a donkey (your claim) or screaming (the Native claim) is equivalent to selfless and honorable? I guess you don't have the slightest idea what "respectable" means if you think a braying "brave" is respectable.

I could add that a Mohawk from the Northeast has nothing to do with the Indians of Georgia. That alone makes the logo false and stereotypical. But why bother, since mascot lovers aren't amenable to reason? They love their traditional examples of racism and the feelings of superiority these examples engender.

For more on the Atlanta Braves, see Origin of the Tomahawk Chop and Animals, Objects, and Professions.

Below:  "Hee haw! I'm a savage brute who either laughs like a donkey or screams like an ape."

1 comment:

Rob said...

For more on the subject, see:

Report: Braves consider changing batting practice cap

The Atlanta Braves drew fire last week when they unveiled their new controversial batting practice cap that featured the "screaming Indian" design.

Now, after much backlash, the Braves are considering changing the design, according to Paul Lukas of Uni Watch.

Lukas blogged this morning that ESPN's column last week on MLB's new batting practice caps "generated so much controversy and backlash that the team may end up switching to another cap logo. "If that happens," writes Lukas, "expect MLB to issue lots of revisionist-history talking points about how the Indian design was just 'one option we were exploring' and that it was 'in development but never finalized' and that the Braves simply 'opted to go in another direction' or some such.'"