Indian Country Today
The Atlanta Braves are all in for racial equity.
No word yet if that means moving on from its controversial nickname and team gestures of a stereotypical Native mascot.
The team announced this week that it joined the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s action for racial equity.
“The Atlanta Braves are committed to embracing diversity within our workforce, fan base, vendors and corporate partners,” read the announcement. “They say power is greater in numbers, so we are incredibly proud to join the ATL Action for Racial Equity and work together to combat systemic racism and advance racial equality, as every single person in America deserves to have their voice heard, make a living wage, have a great education and be treated fairly.”
The announcement, which was only posted on its Twitter page, also included the Braves’ signature red tomahawk.
The chamber has more than 150 companies committed to its new campaign, according to its website.
“This new effort will accelerate racial equity by leveraging the size and scale of our business community, and the power of collective impact. Together we will find solutions that generate meaningful change, dismantle systemic racism and make our community – and world – a better place,” read part of its action call.
Twitter users were quick to question the baseball team of the double standard of a commitment to racial equity, yet keeping the name. Some compared Atlanta to the NFL’s Kansas City team.
“If the @Braves are committed to ending systemic racism + advancing racial equality, there’s a painfully OBVIOUS next step,” said Arizona State University law professor Stacy Leeds, Cherokee, in a retweet that ended with a “mind blown” emoji.
"Except for Native Americans I guess?" Indigenous comedian Joey Clift said in a tweet.
For decades, advocates have pushed for a change in the team’s nickname, which the Braves routinely counter by saying that it's a tribute to Native Americans rather than a slur. It even sent a letter to season-ticket holders last year, saying it will always be the Braves.
A petition to change the name to “Hammers” after baseball legend “Hammerin’ Hank Aaron had momentum after Aaron's death in January but has since stalled.
The name has been around for a century and started when the franchise played in Boston. It briefly changed to the Bees in the 1930s.
(Related: Hammerin’ Hank’s big fan)
For years, the Braves trotted out a character named “Chief Noc-A-Homa” as its mascot before finally retiring it in 1986. A citizen of the Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians played the character for 16 years.
In July, the team removed a “Chop On” sign displayed inside the ballpark and changed its slogan from “Chop On” to “For The A.” The team also promised to work with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to address cultural issues.
Dalton Walker, Red Lake Anishinaabe, is the deputy managing editor at Indian Country Today. Follow him on Twitter: @daltonwalker Walker is based in Phoenix and enjoys Arizona winters.
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