Nick Francona, son of Indians manager Terry, has called on the Cleveland MLB franchise to not only change its name, but to publicly reckon with its history of racism, in a strongly worded essay
published this weekend in GQ.
For too long, Francona argued, the Indians have taken the "cowardly" approach by hiding behind their fans' attachment to Chief Wahoo and the Indians' brand. For years, team leadership refused to even acknowledge
that the Chief Wahoo logo was racist.
What's required now is not simply changing the name, as prominent members of the organization, including Terry Francona, have already supported
— quietly doing away with the current branding would be "the easy way out," Francona wrote — but actually embracing the team's responsibility "to advance social justice and equality" that was referenced in the team's statement on social media.
For starters, Francona suggested, the team will have to confront "the central hypocrisy that it has thus far been unwilling to address honestly: they know the logo is racist, but want to continue to profit off of it without openly admitting to it."
Rebranding should be accompanied by a commitment to no longer profit off of the Chief Wahoo logo, to which the team retains a trademark, Francona wrote. He suggested donating the trademark to an organization like Not Your Mascots
Moreover, the younger Francona called for an honest reckoning with the team's behavior and rhetoric in the past, and acknowledged that having these conversations would be a challenge not only because of local fans' attachments but because of the current political environment, in which rabid constituencies are riled up on cultural issues.
"Navigating this moment will require moral leadership and will be uncomfortable," he concluded. "That means the team must take on the difficult task of standing up against the very problem it cultivated for decades rather than cowardly deflecting resentment and anger on people who simply want to be treated with dignity and respect. Taking ownership of the problem that it created and perpetuated will require a level of courage and candor that is rarely seen in corporate America. But it’s the least the team can do for people they ignored for far too long."
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