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Cleveland Indians Logo Analysis

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Post time 2021-6-2 01:54:22 |Show all posts
The Cleveland Indians logo has a cartoon representation of a traditional Native American chief  Chief Wahoo. The image has sparked a debate on whether it is a representation of racism or not. The meaning of the word racism has various interpretations. Lawrence Blum, a professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, states that the term should only be used when serious moral violations against a given race are exercised. According to the philosopher, some of the practices termed as being racist are misinterpreted by the public because people might have no malicious intentions (Blum 1). The analysis of the Cleveland Indians logo according to Blums concept of racism shows its creators intention was to pay tribute to one of the clubs greatest players and hence the logo cannot be termed as being racist.
Blums concept suggests that the definition of racism has changed over the years and modern individuals perceive any instance of injustice, racial conflict, and exclusion as an act of racism. The philosopher introduces the options to change the public understanding of racism by presenting the history of its name and giving the examples of misunderstood conflicts based on discrimination (Blum 3). The Cleveland Indians logo was designed as a tribute to one of the baseball clubs legends, Louis Sockalexis, a Native American player. However, the opposition of the logo consists of Native Americans convinced that the character reminds them of the tragic part of their history. Hence, the character used in the logo is the key point of racist arguments as it resembles one of Native American chiefs.
For most people, the logo is racist because it contains a feather that has a special significance among Native Americans. However, what also provoked such a hostile reaction is the fact that the club uses Native American symbols even when the owners are not of Indian descent and the clubs history is not based on Indigenous American philosophy. However, due to the Blums concept of racism, Chief Wahoo logo is not racist although some people interpret it otherwise. The club's founders designed the logo to honor one of its players and hence they had no intention to negatively depict any race. Besides, baseball is a competitive sport. As a result, many sports clubs use logos that show their relentless and resilient nature. Obviously, Native Americans are known for being brave in defending their territories. Consequently, the logo shows the clubs intention to win and portrays its player as courageous and dedicated warriors similarly to the traditional Native Americans.
According to Blum, the motive defines whether an act or a symbol diminishes someones dignity (Blum 13). In this case, the designer of the logo did not want to create a racial representation. Chief Wahoo's red color could be interpreted by many as a racist gesture considering the club is based in America where most of the population is white. Skin color is a main basis of racism, and hence the color of the Native Indian character in the logo was bound to cause a racial controversy. However, cartoons are mostly exaggerated representations of objects. They are designed in an attractive and catchy way. The logo of the club shows Native Indian in red with a red feather on a ribbon tied around his head. The fact that the cartoon is red may just be a coincidence because this color is one of the most striking. The logo thus cannot be termed as being racist.
Taking into consideration Baums ideas on defining whether something can be counted as racist or not, one has to keep in mind the motives of representation. The logo of Cleveland Indians cannot be considered racist because the image was designed to show the clubs competitive nature and pay tribute to its outstanding player.
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