Some baseball teams, like the Chicago Cubs, have taken proactive approaches to dealing with racist fans. The Cleveland Indians* have not.
My friend Lauren alerted Cleveland Indians management concerning this tattoo in front of her in the security line:
. . . as well as this pic of a different racist tattoo, taken by Lauren’s partner . . .
And Lauren got this response.
“Hi Lauren. Thank you for reaching out to the Cleveland Indians. We are very thankful that you and your family are fans of the Tribe. We want you to enjoy your experience here at the ballpark. If you let the usher or anyone in lower fan services aware of this, [sic] someone can be sent to ask the fan to cover their tattoo if necessary. As well, even if you would not want to be re-located, it is possible though to get re-located for that game if you and your family are at the ballpark.”
Not sure where to begin, but this response places the burden of objecting to racism on the fan, not the club or stadium management. It promises nothing even if the fan does speak up, and then offers to relocate the family — even if they don’t want to?
But we shouldn’t even have to ask these questions. As baseball and politics blogger Sarah Sanchez pointed out in our discussion, the club’s fan behavior section provides that “offensive words or images must be covered or removed from the ballpark”.
Stadiums generally kick people out for yelling at umpires, stop serving alcohol late in the games, and even remind people not to swear because kids are present.
I do have a bee in my bonnet, as they say, about hate speech tattoos at baseball games. I think the reason it bothers me so MUCH is that they wore this into the ballpark! It’s no different than a Nazi t-shirt, right? And the onus is on their seatmates to bring this to the park’s attention? Why? They didn’t just draw this on. They wore it in through security, in front of God and everyone. If people can be refused entry for having restricted items in their bags, for being too drunk, for any number of reasons, why don’t we say the same here? It’s not reasonable to expect their seatmates to take a personal risk to document something everyone can SEE and then – what? Raise it with the same management who let them in and seated them? And have any confidence they’ll take an action? And it’s bad! BAD bad. I shouldn’t have to sit near someone who felt SO STRONGLY about being a Nazi that they literally permanently altered their body so everyone would know HOW NAZI THEY ARE. Is this something I should have to address MYSELF?
So, if you’d like to sound off on this to the Cleveland Indians and Progressive Field, all the information to do that is here.
I write about why we should do everything we can to make racists socially uncomfortable here.
Thanks to Lauren & Yusuf for the pictures and the bravery.
* I’m gonna bracket (for now) the question of whether the Cleveland Indians mascot is itself racist (it is). The fans of clubs with racist mascots deal with that reality in complex and varied ways. This episode is probably connected to such institutional racism in big-picture ways, but is totally worth pointing out by itself.