In Chicago this weekend, I saw a lot of the Chicago Blackhawks logo (below) on souvenir hockey jerseys and other paraphernalia.
Being from Cleveland where the Cleveland Indians logo (below) creates controversy and inspires calls for its removal, I realized I had not ever heard much about the Blackhawks logo and opposition to it.
Looking at the two images, I can see why the Indians logo with its smiling caricature would inspire greater opposition. Also, the origin of the Blackhawks logo is that the team was named after the founding owner’s military division’s nickname, which in turn came from a Sauk chief, Black Hawk. This chain of history makes clear the way the name honors various groups and people. On the other hand there has been dispute about who or what Chief Wahoo honors with some saying he honors a historical Native American ballplayer with other saying the historical record does not support this view.
If one were to take an absolute position that reducing a group of people to mascots is undesirable, then the Blackhawks logo should be changed. In that case though one would have to make the argument specifically about marginalized people who currently suffer from a legacy of historical oppression so as to allow for the continuation of logos such as those of the Minnesota Vikings and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. That seems to me to be a bit too much hairsplitting. If the mascot looks like an offensive stereotype, like Chief Wahoo, then I say get rid of it. Otherwise, consider the subtleties and let some stand.
A last note, the fact the Blackhawks live mascot is a person in a cartoon hawk suit, not a person in Native American regalia increases the respect factor and reduces the stereotype and authenticity problems.
Father’s Day, given its name, is a gender based event. Stereotypes are thus a part of the Father’s Day landscape and should not surprise anyone. Consider for example this quick survey of Father’s Day cards by John McMahon. There is also the issue of the tie as the standard Father’s Day gift and what it says about the role of the father out in the workplace, and a workplace of a certain kind. What though interests me as a vegetarian is the connection between father’s day and meat, not just general meat in terms of grilling but large cuts of steak. See for example this Morton’s ad.
Nothing wrong with the ad. If it attracts business, great. I will just smile as I eat my falafel at Tommy’s (note their marching vegetable logo below).
Two people in this picture are Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who is the other guy?
Black Power Protest, Mexico City Olympics, 1968
The other guy is Australian Peter Norman who ran a personal best time to surprise everyone and get the silver medal. He wore an “Olympics Project for Human Rights Pin” showing solidarity with Carlos and Smith. As a result he was shunned by the Australian athletics community, not being selected for the next Olympics despite being well qualified. This piece on CNN reminded me of his choice. It would have been easy for him to stay neutral, do nothing and go on with his life, but he quietly took a stand. I am not saying to celebrate the story of the white guy in place of or above the story of the black individuals to whom the cause belonged (that is done enough in movies and documentaries), but this bit of history is a great example for those who feel that due to pigmentation or circumstance they cannot do anything.
It is new letter jacket season at the school where I teach. Students who lettered in the fall now have gotten their letter jackets and have donned their new garb proudly. Seeing all these freshly minted tributes to athletic accomplishment leads me to ponder the gender politics of the letter jacket. Nowadays I see both girls and boys wearing jackets for the sports that they play, more boys perhaps, but certainly a significant number of girls. This phenomenon differs from other schools I have been where letter jackets were primarily male accouterments, and I am happy to see this egalitarian evolution.
I also have not seen in years a girl wearing her boyfriend’s letter jacket. Perhaps that is a regional development limited to this particular suburban milieu; nonetheless, I have not missed this courtship signifier. Whenever I saw a girl wearing her boyfriend’s jacket, I always thought of it as a mark of possession, a fancy, embroidered “property of” sign warning other males in the world not to infringe upon the owner’s rights. The fact the jackets were usually oversized thus swamping the female wearer added to the metaphor, the male attention being ill-fitting and overwhelming but nonetheless desired. Certainly I knew the female perspective, that the jacket was a reminder, particularly in an olfactory sense, of male affection, and that it was a way to brag to other females regarding one’s success in procuring a mate. Still, the whole symbolic exchange annoyed me especially since one never saw a boy wearing a girl’s jacket. After all, that could mean that the boy is property of the girl, and what boy would want to sent that message?
So, I am happy not to see girls wearing their boyfriends’ jackets, but now I am beginning to think my position a bit extreme. After all, I formulated the foundations of the position when I was an adolescent male without a girlfriend. Moreover, having lettered in cross-country and track, I was not an athlete possessing a particularly valuable jacket. Years later I wonder if my position was more a matter of clique vs. clique antagonism mixed with jealousy. My attempt at feminist letter jacket analysis may in fact be a projection of male insecurity.
Then where do I stand now? I think my original analysis is valid on one level. If I see the letter jacket as a text, I can read it however I want, just as I can read a novel or poem however I want. The fact someone else may construct another meaning does not invalidate my analysis. On a larger level, though, I know my analysis has its flaws particularly since wearing a jacket is a choice and who am I to denigrate someone else’s choice by imposing my biased intellectual framework on their actions. Putting these two thoughts together, should I see a return of girls wearing boyfriends’ jackets I will not take to my soapbox and lead a campaign against that fashion selection. On the other hand, if my daughter in the distant future takes wearing such garb, she will certainly hear an extensive critique.
Anyone else see the metaphorical link between America becoming more diverse and the company that makes Wonder bread going bankrupt. As America heads toward a point where white people will no longer be the majority, it makes sense that Wonder bread no longer sells as well. After all, Urban Dictionary defines “wonder bread” as slang for white person, and there just are not as many white people around. There is moola in the multigrain, but blond goes bankrupt.
Hostess also makes Twinkies (yellow on the outside white in the middle) and Ho Hos (black on the outside white in the middle), so more advanced metaphorical analysis is possible, but I’m not going there.