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Raymond Reid: Happy trails, Chief Wahoo. So long, Uncle Ben
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Raymond Reid: Happy trails, Chief Wahoo. So long, Uncle Ben

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The cavalry of political correctness has stampeded into Cleveland and taken the Indians away.

The Cleveland Indians are now the Cleveland Guardians. Thus ends the legendary run of the storied Indians, the team that brought Larry Doby into the major leagues from the old Negro leagues. Doby was the second African American player, behind the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Jackie Robinson, to make it to the big leagues. Now, the Indians are bowing to the pressures of wokeness run amuck.

I addressed this issue years ago when I wrote that “dead people aren’t dead anymore, they’re ‘metabolically challenged,’ homeless people are now ‘residentially flexible’ and drunken folks are ‘spatially perplexed.’”

At the time I was writing about the Guilford County Board of Education’s 9-1 vote to strip the Andrews Red Raiders and the Southern Guilford Indians of their mascots, a move that cost

each school at least $125,000.The board deemed these mascots as “insensitive, demeaning and politically incorrect.” It ignored the fact that 80% of the Native American students polled said they were not offended by the mascots.

I imagine Cleveland fans, including most Native Americans, would disagree with the name change if asked. Or if it came to a vote. But it didn’t come to a vote. The minority ruled. The majority never had a chance.

So the Indians, who have been the Indians since 1915, are now the Guardians — named for the iconic statues at the Hope Memorial Bridge, which leads to Progressive Stadium.

What a slap in the face to Cleveland Indian legends like Bob Feller, Bob Lemon, Mike Garcia, Early Wynn, Kenny Lofton, Rocky Colavito, Tris Speaker, Frank Robinson, Gaylord Perry, Albert Belle, Larry Doby and Satchel Paige, another Negro leagues legend.

Now the Indians have gone the way of Aunt Jemima, Eskimo Pies and Uncle Ben’s, whose rice brand has become Ben’s Original. (Ben is no longer an uncle.) Owner Mars Foods believes that 70 years of racial stereotyping, showing a Black man wearing a bow tie, was long enough. The brand obviously was not broken, but Mars decided to fix it anyway.

Personally, I never for one minute saw Uncle Ben as a racial stereotype; just a handsome, fictional Black guy used as a marketer for rice. I can’t imagine anyone, Black or white, being offended by the image of Uncle Ben.

The Indians were not broken, either. But starting next season, they will be “fixed.” Evidently, 106 years of racial stereotyping was long enough, according to team owners.

I enjoyed the Indians game I attended years ago when they played in the old Memorial Stadium. I even bought a cap adorned with the iconic logo of Chief Wahoo — a retired relic now, which I’ll hang on to — along with a package of Uncle Ben’s rice; the one with him wearing the bow tie.

Raymond Reid can be contacted at rreid7@triad.rr.com

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