The Cleveland Indians have announced the club will be dropping its nickname, which it had for more than 100 years.
I never considered the moniker anything other than an honorific, but then, I’m not Native American.
Cleveland is apparently following the Washington Football Team’s lead. Now that club’s old nickname was undeniably racist, which the team adopted when it was founded in 1932, a time when casual racial slurs were considered acceptable.
That it lasted so long is remarkable, and that it took corporate sponsor pressure on the club in 2020 for team owner Dan Snyder to drop the slur is even more astonishing.
Movements of conscience have us asking a lot of questions about why we have accepted the things traditionally thought to be “normal”: police violence against minorities, LGBTQ discrimination, income inequality, and so much more.
I have a thought for Cleveland’s management as it considers a new nickname: now about the Buckeyes. That was the name of the Negro League baseball team playing in the city from 1942 until 1950.
What I like about it is, the name honors Black ballplayers banned from the Major Leagues until 1947, when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers. It also tacitly says, we were wrong about the old nickname.
Ohio State University, of course, is known as the Buckeyes, but there are plenty of professional teams that share nicknames with colleges and universities; Lions, Tigers, and Bears (oh my!), so there is nothing unique here.
Living in Atlanta, I’m a Braves fan, but that team said it won’t consider a nickname change. Maybe it should.