In Richmond, we are debating the fate of our Confederate monuments. In Washington, the standoff regarding the name of their football team remains contentious, and a thorn in the side of the increasingly troubled NFL. The NCAA continues to struggle with names, mascots, and logos that interest groups have determined to be insensitive at best, offensive to most. This debate is ongoing and while there is no clear end in sight, what has become clear to me is that the world will be fine without divisive mascots, logos, names, and yes, monuments.
Yesterday, it was announced that the Cleveland Indians will remove their divisive (I’m putting that nicely, it’s racist) mascot Chief Wahoo from their uniforms starting in the 2019 season. The move comes from increased pressure from Native American groups and the MLB commissioner himself. During the 2016 World Series, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed his desire to have the team eradicate the symbol.
“Major League Baseball is committed to building a culture of diversity and inclusion throughout the game,” Manfred said in a statement. “Over the past year, we encouraged dialogue with the Indians organization about the club’s use of the Chief Wahoo logo. During our constructive conversations, Paul Dolan made clear that there are fans who have a longstanding attachment to the logo and its place in the history of the team. Nonetheless, the club ultimately agreed with my position that the logo is no longer appropriate for on-field use in Major League Baseball, and I appreciate Mr. Dolan’s acknowledgment that removing it from the on-field uniform by the start of the 2019 season is the right course.”
What is clear to me is that the world will go on. Chief Wahoo will be reduced, as St. John’s University (formerly the Redmen) changed their name to the Red Storm, and the world continued. Here in Henrico County, Byrd Middle School recently changed names to Quioccasion. Guess what? The world continued on. As it eventually will when the NFL team in Washington changes its name, when the Confederate-honored school names in Hanover County change, and when monuments are moved from Monument Avenue.
Before you get all worked up. The Cleveland Indians’ Chief Wahoo logo and Confederate monuments on Monument Avenue are not the same, even though I could make the argument that they are both divisive and racially offensive symbol that should not be publicly displayed or celebrated but I digress. For the sake of this post, the point I want to make is that while people and communities normally resist change, the sun will come up tomorrow and the world will continue.
I remember the commentary that was presented by Confederate groups when the Arthur Ashe Monument was being debated. Confederate groups argued that it would absolutely destroy Monument Avenue; David Duke was marching in our streets. Arthur Ashe didn’t destroy Monument Avenue. In fact, it’s one of our most celebrated monuments today.
Dr. King is quoted as saying, “The time is always right to do what is right.” History is a poor reason to keep the status quo. Eventually, the Washington football team will change its name and Confederate monuments will be moved from Monument Ave. The only question remains is, When is the right timing to do what is right?