Friday, December 28, 2012

The Problem With the New Braves Practice Hat

Though it shouldn't be shocking, it continues to surprise me from time to time the length that some people will go to defend the most reprehensible thing because it involves their precious.  Just because you enjoy something, does not mean that it is not deeply problematic, nor does it justify a refusal to acknowledge that your darling precious is hurtful to marginalized people. ESPN recently released the new MLB batting practice hats.  Most were generic and some were downright ugly, but one was deeply offensive.

There should be no debate about whether or not this logo is offensive.  Native Peoples have made it very clear that this kind of stereotyping and appropriation of their culture by sporting teams is racist. Since Native People are the final arbiter of what is offensive to them that should be the end of the discussion but of course, in White supremacist America, there has been much twisting, denial and of course doubling down on racism in order to defend this horrid hat.

Here are a few of the comments from the ESPN article discussing this hat:


Ernat21
Dude, no. You are way off. "Brave" is not infringing or racist at all, and neither is the logo. It shows ferocity and courage. Its not like they are called the Atlanta Injuns or some racist name. You don't hear the Central Michigan Chippewas being attacked for their name? The only lee-way Ill give you is the Washington Redskins because that sounds bad; but Seminoles, Braves, Chippewas, Warhawks, Aztecs, and Indians... don't complain

chrohandhaivey
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 puddins

bbell2121
leave the braves alone. I remember when I used to get offended by being called brave. what an insult. brave could be the meanest word ever said about a person. I'm boycotting Notre Dame because saying irish people fight is insulting to the irish community. What a joke.

Saints123000
All you sensitive tree huggers who have issues with teams named after indians need to get the hell over it. No team names themselves after something to degrade that group. It's a compliment if a pro sports team names itself after you. I'm SO glad the Seminole tribe told all the PC idiots to shove off and to let Florida State keep the Seminoles name. 

I'm so sick of all of this "offensive" $@%!$@%!$@%!$ that has entered the country the last decade. You people only complain because you enjoy complaining about something.

canigs013
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.

jmc647
Paul Lukas is so offended by the Braves batting practice lid. Personally, I wish it had Chief Noc-A-Homa playing bingo with a fifth of vodka in his back pocket.

Luyet5
what's with putting a picture of an Indian being racist? People are waaaaayyyyyy over sensitive. Does a picture of an Indian make people feel bad for stealing their land a couple centuries back? Whatever America.....whatever!

scottyspurs
When the same people get pissed off about the Notre Dame Fightin' Irish mascot logo, I'll take them seriously...it's a cartoon character for crissakes! This country has become a group of whinning overly PC idiots, they get pissed off over hat logos, but are not offended by real issues...no wonder we will be at best the 5th most relevant nation in the world in the next 30 years. The things we get hung up on are so minor, while we sweep major issues under the rug and act like it does not exist.

I'm a Mets fan, and i'll buy the Braves hat and wear it proudly....some of my best friends are Indians (oh, i'm so sorry...Native Americans) 

P.S. I hope your equally annoyed about how your ancestors were most likley part of robbing them of their land...I bet you gave that alot of thought over Thanksgiving, while we all stuffed our overweight yet malnurished selves like gluttons.

PLAY BALL!!!!!!!!

zab5023
Why is using a caricature of a native american offensive? I would understand the argument if there was like a giant X over the face or like a casino in the background, then yes that would be offensive, but just a face is completely harmless and even paying respect to the toughness of their culture.

The aforementioned is only a small smattering of the racist commentary about the hat. There were a few reoccurring themes:
  1. Native People should be proud of the representation and that it is actually complimentary to their culture.
  2. Being upset is silly and there are more serious issues in the world than this hat
  3. Being upset about the hat is a symptom of a leftist politically correct culture, which infringes on free speech.
  4. Native People should be thankful because Whiteness does not get to be celebrated in the same vein
  5. 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.

Though I didn't include comments from people who were offended on behalf of the letter A on the Angels cap and the elephant on Oakland's new cap, it's clear that such suggestions were simply a denial of how racist caricatures hurt marginalized peoples.  It's a way of saying that marginalized people are being to sensitive and crying over nothing.  While I think that the drunken Irish stereotype might be harmful to Irish people, let's be honest and just admit that the Irish haven't been marginalized in North America for quite some time. Using a European ethnic issue in a North American setting is more than bad logic, it's a purposeful attempt to obfuscate and deny the truth of the harm being done.

I may not be a Native person but I know enough about racist caricatures to see quite clearly that the logo on the Braves hat is as offensive as the name.  It makes me wonder about the conscience of the team owners and its fans that they continue to support and cheer for something that is so blatantly racist. The very idea that this is part of American culture should be ringing alarm bells everywhere because so-called American culture is built upon the theft of land, rape, murder and theft of culture of Indigenous peoples.  The continual refusal of sports teams to change their offensive names, mascots and images is nothing more than the continued colonization of Indigenous People. 

For more on this issue, please check out Native Appropriations.