Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Atlanta Braves - appropriation and ignorance

Small town English education in the 1980s and 90s did not cover Native American culture, aside from a brief - and extremely stereotypical - artistic foray.

Native culture is invisible there, it becomes visible in snippets - through the recently disputed name of Exeter Chiefs Rugby Club, for instance - and from the engagement of people like myself who like American culture in general.

After moving to London in 2005, night shifts led me to listening to baseball as a way to stay awake.  As the club of the era, I bandwagoned to the Atlanta Braves. I chopped and war chanted at my first game in 2009 and proudly wore both a hat and a jersey with the tomahawk logo thereon.

The Atlanta local who took me to the games told me that night that he had never done the chop. I remember thinking such a stance was weird and that it didn't really matter - that such noises were clearly not representative of reality.

I had missed the point.

The Braves name and the continued use (and even more damagingly, promotion) of the Florida State Seminole-derived "War Chant" and tomahawk logo lead people both inside this country and beyond in this global era to see such appropriation as either surreal, or historical - when they are neither.

The Atlanta Baseball franchise used to have Chief Noc-A-Homa, and he was sidelined because he was racist. This process can and should continue.

With the move to Cobb County, the people of metro Atlanta deserve better than a third hand, racist moniker picked up in the 1890s in Boston.

I don't wear the tomahawk any more and I'm sorry for any way in which I have perpetuated this situation.