Washington Football Team’s second season with its far less racist name is already underway, and on Sunday, Cleveland’s baseball team will play its final game with a nickname many in the Indigenous community also found offensive. The moves are a significant sea change in the way sports teams approach their impact on the actual marginalized people who became caricatures in the name of fandom.
But not everyone is thrilled to lose their team’s identity so abruptly, even if it was offensive to so many people. Which is why Comedy Central wants to help.
“In 2021, we’re finally acknowledging as a society that, maybe painting yourself in redface and eating fifty hot dogs in a stadium parking lot isn’t the best way to honor an entire race of people, so in a lot of cases, those mascots are changing,” creator Joey Clift said.
The animated short offered some tips to “turn those micro aggressions into micro egress-fun.”
One of those tips is simple: instead of the frowned-upon “Tomahawk Chop,” fans can simply wave their hands side to side like they’re saying hello to a pal. Another one is right to the point: don’t do redface, either.
“You’ve heard about blackface,” the video says succinctly. “It’s the same thing. And blackface is bad, right?”
The video even dives into how everything we know is wrong about Thanksgiving, which is certainly a related sidebar. It also addresses some of the common defenses of these nicknames, like the myth that they “honor” Natives or that no one cares. They do, which is why Clift made the video in the first place. And he’s proud the people that worked on the video were a “murderer’s row of badass Native talent” like voice actors Jana Schmieding and Tai Leclaire (Rutherford Falls) and John Timothy (Spirit Rangers) while Indigenous animator Marie Bower designed all of the “Native mascots” in the piece.
“With Native mascots changing right now, it’s super topical, but also, with the release of Rutherford Falls and Reservation Dogs, 2021 is really the first year Native storytellers have been given big opportunities in the media,” Clift said, noting that statistics often show the average American knows “next to nothing about Native people.”
For a long time, those “Native mascots” were all that many Americans saw and knew of a varied and unique group of people. Clift hopes that this video, along with shows like Rutherford Falls and Reservation Dog, can help educate and bring awareness to something beyond relics of the past.
“Many fans of those teams are still processing how they feel about the whole thing,” he said. “So I wanted to make a silly video to give those fans some tips to show that your team changing its name isn’t the end of the world, and also that it’s very, very easy to not be racist.”