Yesterday I posted a super-racist image on Facebook.
I knew I probably shouldn’t, and I didn’t really want to.
I felt I had to do something to demonstrate just how racist the Cleveland Indians red man logo is, yet continues to be defended by fans and the organization and Major League Baseball. It was an attempt to demonstrate how blatant, explicit racism toward Native Americans is totally acceptable in our culture.
As I was creating this image—which had been bouncing around in my head for a while, but increasingly as the Indians progressed through the playoffs—it became entirely clear that it would be very offensive.
In fact, I can hardly see it myself without feeling incredibly uncomfortable.
And that is exactly why I decided to share it.
Because it is the responsibility of an artist to offend.
Those who know me best understood the “why” of this image. Because they have an intimate understanding of who I am as a person and my desire to challenge others for the sake of a better world.
A few shared or liked the post. Some others objected for good reason.
To be honest, I objected myself at various points throughout the day.
“WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?” I was wondering… “Just another privileged white dude sticking his white nose where it doesn’t belong. Exploiting one people group in a pragmatic attempt to stick up for another—neither of which asked for or needs the help of a no-name excuse-for-an-artist from basically-nowhere, Michigan.”
How, I kept asking myself, could I share something so disgusting, even with the best of intentions?
Maybe I shouldn’t have. Maybe it’s none of my business. Maybe it was wrong of me.
It probably was.
But I did.
Here’s the thing. I don’t even follow baseball.
But that official Cleveland Indians red man logo is disgusting, and I wanted to show why.
For anyone shocked by the “Cleveland Negroes” image I created (which should be everyone), consider the fact that one of the top teams in Major-frickin-League Baseball in the year 2016 is using an equally offensive image everywhere—from team jerseys, to merchandise, etc. etc. etc.
And no one notices.
(well not no one, but no one important enough seems to care enough to change it because $$$$$$)
In fact a million people are walking around with that red guy on their hats and t-shirts right now. Can you imagine walking into a ballpark with thousands of those “Negro” characters splattered across everyone’s chest? The players uniforms? Plush toys?
I could spend all day talking about the Indians logo being offensive (and people have been for years), but words don’t seem to be strong enough.
So reluctantly I pay my dues as an artist. I’ll be the one to say through art that thing so many seem to be unable to hear.
Cleveland Indians, you are a racist organization. Cleveland fans, defending your mascot is racist behavior.
And those of us who cringe at my image above, but fail to have the same reaction at the thousands of red-face World Series posts in our feeds this week, we are guilty as well.
Some of you may be angry that the above image even exists, and offended greatly by my willingness to publish it. I hope you can offer me some grace in this area. I certainly cannot understand what kind of emotions are spurred by caricatures like the one above, and I do apologize for my acting ignorantly.
I hope we can unite in our desire to fight racism—not just that against black Americans, but for Native, Asian, Latino and other people groups that deserve better. Sometimes it takes bold, even ill-advised moves like this to get white folks to understand.