April 04, 2014

42nd annual Chief Wahoo protest

Native Americans, others protest Indians’ logo

By Associated PressAs excited baseball fans, many of them wearing Cleveland’s smiling Chief Wahoo logo, headed into Progressive Field for Friday’s home opener, a smaller group stood by unable to share their enthusiasm.

Holding hand-painted signs that read, “We Are Not Honored,” and “Our Children Are Not Mascots,” a contingent of Native Americans and some of their supporters demonstrated against the Indians’ use of their red-faced Wahoo logo.

The protesters, who have been gathering outside the ballpark’s entrances on opening day for years to voice their displeasure about the team’s use of the long-standing logo, stayed behind barricades as Indians fans walked by for the game against the Minnesota Twins.

Robert Roche, executive director of the American Indian Education Center, is adamant the team should abolish the logo permanently.

“The issue is simple,” said the 66-year-old Roche, his hair braided with white threads. “We are not mascots. I’m nobody’s mascot. My children are not mascots. It mocks us as a race of people. It mocks our religion.”
But it was one particular face-off that kicked this story into high gear on the Internet:

Redface has another big day at the ballpark in Cleveland

By Cleveland FrownsAbout 45 minutes before the first pitch of the Cleveland Indians’ home opener on Friday against the Minnesota Twins, I took the below photo just outside of Gate C at Progressive Field, where a protest against the Cleveland team’s name and Chief Wahoo logo was being held by a group organized by the local chapter of the American Indian Movement (AIM).

Pictured at left is Robert Roche, a Chiricahua Apache tribe member, AIM member, Executive Director of the American Indian Education Center in Parma, Ohio, and more. At right is Cleveland Indians baseball fan Pedro Rodriguez, who is not a Native American.

Shortly after snapping the photo I posted it to the Cleveland Frowns Twitter account from where it was quickly picked up by a number of national outlets, including Deadspin, Fox Sports, NBC Sports, SB Nation, Sports Illustrated, USA Today, and Yahoo. Scene’s Sam Allard, who also witnessed this confrontation, posted some pictures of his own along with a first-person account and roundup of responses to the anti-Wahoo protesters.

"It's Not Racist!" And Other Responses to Wahoo Protesters at Home Opener

By Sam AllardThe crazy thing about this afternoon's protest in general and the encounter above specifically was the lengths to which the Pro-Wahoo crowd is prepared to go (and here I primarily mean logical lengths) to deny the legitimacy of those offended by the logo.

The staunch, redfaced Rodriguez refused to acknowledge that the Native American man standing before him—Robert Roche, of the Apache Nation—could possibly take offense. Rorche literally told him he was offended by Chief Wahoo and the use of tribal feathers and redface, and Rodriguez just kept shaking his head.

It's actually a shame for the civil Wahoo supporters that their comrades put on such an embarrassing and primitive display this afternoon. Only twice in three hours did Pro-Wahoo folks talk politely with the protesters about the root of their opposition and try to explain their own difficulties with the dehumanizing logo. (One man turned his Wahoo hat around as a little peace offering).

For the most part, though, passers-by hurled insults. A handful of boozy risk-takers sporting "Keep the Chief" tees walked directly in front of those holding signs, to taunt. Others distributed individual middle-fingers to each protester while inviting them to fuck themselves. Others launched the familiar hate speech—"Go back to the reservation," etc.
Cleveland American Indian Education Center’s Robert Roche: “Don’t Honor Us!”

By Levi RickertRobert Roche has been involved with the Cleveland urban American Indian organization since his college days some 45 years ago. He is now the executive director of the American Indian Education Center, which once was the Cleveland American Indian Center.

As a young man, he met American Indian Movement leader Russell Means, who was running the Cleveland American Indian Center then. He became good friends with Means. Even way back then the American Indian community in Cleveland opposed the name of the Cleveland major league baseball name. The organization filed a lawsuit to have the name changed.

Fast-forward to this past Friday, Roche was still fighting the name. Roche is Chiricahua Apache, the tribe that produced the likes of Geronimo and Cochise.
Video: AIM's ‘Chief Wahoo’ Protest Fights Fans' BacklashThe protest against the Cleveland Indians’ logo, Chief Wahoo, continued in Cleveland yesterday and was captured in a 26-minute video.Chief Wahoo's Waterloo: A Photo from Protests Outside the Indians' Home Opener Goes Viral and the Debate Over the Team's Logo Grows

Photo goes viral

Am I a prophet? A time-traveling cartoonist? (toon, photo)

By Lalo AlcarazOne of my preferred topics for editorial cartoons has always been American mistreatment of indigenous people. Nothing makes me feel better than dreaming up a solid cartoon that reminds us all about the sordid history of our country’s crimes against Indians. The only thing more satisfying is seeing my ideas validated.

This weekend POCHO Florida Burro Jefe Santino J. Rivera sent me a “heads-up” about a Tweet featuring one of these editorial cartoons. I clicked the link and just about fell out of my chair.

The graphic in the Tweet was a side-by-side presentation of my cartoon showing a Native American confronting an Indian-mascot-garbed sports fan next to a photograph of a Native American confronting an Indian-mascot-garbed sports fan (image, above.)

They are eerily similar. The strange part was that I drew my cartoon in 2002, and the photo was taken last week in Cleveland, home of the Cleveland “Indians.”

My tweet on the subject:

Cleveland Wahoo fans say they're not to blame. They're just imitating Indians like Heidi Klum, Christina Fallin, Harry Styles, Cher, et al.

If seeing a redface caricature face to face with a real Indian doesn't do the trick, nothing will. These articles and images should convince everyone that we're never going to talk people out of their racist beliefs.

Mascot supporters are blind, deaf, and dumb to their own ignorance. They can't argue the facts so they argue their emotions. They're like Christians, children, or dogs whose basic argument is "Because!" (The dog barks his answer, but that's what it amounts to.)

Or as I wrote to one Wahoo lover:

Really? You think protesting this horrible racist stereotype is a matter of "political correctness"? What would it take for Cleveland fans to admit that something is racist: a massacre or lynching with bodies?

What we need to do is influence the media and shame the corporate masters, including advertisers. They're the ones who can stand aloof and make semi-rational decisions.

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