Rebranding A Outdated Society

As time moves forward and society continues to grow more open to change and reform people and organizations have begun to be held more accountable and to a higher standard than they were in past years. Over the last several years, one term or concept that has become more and more prevalent in relation to a multitude of professions and organizations is the idea of being “politically correct.” The concept of being politically correct has been picked at and redefined in many different ways over the years and has varied depending on the given situation. Coinciding with being politically correct, the concept of “race rebranding” has become a fast growing idea that all organizations and professions should be applying in order to help culminate a sound and accepting society. Groups such as major league sports teams, schools, and even buildings are beginning to take on this concept of race rebranding more as the days go on. However, the concept of what is politically correct in regards to race rebranding is still up for debate at times because of the versatility in certain organizations situations.

When it comes to the elimination of racist names and logos within the major league sports teams, there has been a multitude of different outlooks per each team that has been subject to race rebranding. One of the more recent examples of race rebranding is with the NFL team previously known as the Washington Redskins. On May 10th in 2013 USA today hosted an interview with Daniel Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins. When he was asked if a name change would ever be considered his response was “We will never change the name of the team. It’s that simple.” Upon this response being made, it sparked a new beginning for this kind of movement involving race rebranding. Snyder and every other owner of a NFL team including the Head Commissioner Roger Goodell, were sent letters from members of the U.S. Congress asking for a change in names so it’s not like Washington was being singled out in this situation. The over breaching fact or argument of this situation is that the name “redskins” along with their logo were simply flat out racist and should be seen just as prejudice as the “n-word.” Some individuals have made remarks that there is nothing political about sports in general. However, if there is a team with a name that offends an entire ethnic group of people that doesn’t mean then should be able to get away with it or that the use of a given name is ethical regardless of the fact that there is no evident political ties within the sport.

Washington Redskin’s Logo

The opposing argument to situations like Washington’s can be strongly seen through what is currently happening with Cleveland, Ohio’s MLB team the “Indians.” In the case of the Cleveland Indians, prior to being named the Indians, over one hundred years ago Cleveland’s team was referred to as the “Naps” to pay homage to the player manager Napoleon Lajoie. However, upon Lajoie leaving Cleveland to work in Philadelphia, supposedly the name “Indians” was chosen in conjunction with a man named Louis Sockalexis who had played for Cleveland in the late 1800’s. However deeper research shows that there is no exact clear correlation to the new name and Sockalexis. Since the concept of Cleveland changing their team name came up in 2019, they are now still known as the Indians for potentially the final year but Cleveland has completely done away with their logo which features a Native American looking cartoon with bright red skin, similar to Washington’s old football team logo, has been completely done away with. In Cleveland’s case, some have argued that the elimination of their most recent team name and logo is disrespectful to the past players and diminishes a substantial part of history for the team. Even if we exclude the fact that there is not a 100% clear association between the name “Indians” and Louis Sockalexis, Cleveland still faces the same issue that Washington does where they still both possess a name and logo that pose clear prejudice and offense towards an entire ethnic group. Even though there is potential history behind these names, that doesn’t mean that it is politically correct for today’s social climate.

Cleveland Indian’s Logo, Chief Wahoo

On a much smaller scale compared to professional sports teams, Xavier University of Cincinnati, Ohio has faced similar situations where race rebranding has been suggested and utilized to create a more ethically sound environment for students and to ensue racial reconciliation. Xavier University possesses a building that acts as a dormitory and a dining hall along with a few other amenities as well. This building is known as Bishop Edward Fenwick Hall. Bishop Edward Fenwick was Xavier University’s first ever President so this building was named out of respect for him. However, through research that the student body has done and then furthered by Dr. Charles Walker-Gollar of Xavier’s own theology department, it was uncovered that Bishop Edward Fenwick had previously owned slaves at one point in his life. This clearly speaks volumes against Xavier Universities Catholic Jesuit tradition. In response to this finding, unlike some of these major league sports teams, action was taken immediately. The current president of Xavier University Fr. Michael Graham created a group of faculty, staff, and students known as “The Working Group’’ in order to focus on how the university could solve issues like this and create a more politically sound environment on campus. The Working Group came up with a new name for the building and starting in the Fall of 2021 the building will be known as Justice Hall which will be a nice change from a name with a racist connotation. Xavier University exemplified an organized way to initiate race rebranding within the community.

Bishop Edward Fenwick Hall or Justice Hall

The over breaching question at hand when talking about these various situations involving race rebranding is whether or not teams or organizations have an obligation to rebrand themselves in order to not offend anyone racially what so ever. When looking at this topic through Mills theory of utilitarianism, it states that actions are considered ethical based on whether or not they promote happiness and the well-being of everyone. Based on the fact that the only argument for holding onto these racist names is to pay respects to history, it can be said that if all of these racist names and logos were don’t away with, it would not negatively affect anyone in today’s day in age and it would benefit the groups of people that these names and logos are prejudice against creating the maximum amount of happiness for everyone. Another way of viewing these situations is through Kant’s categorical imperative which states that actions and decisions are not at all dependent on one’s intentions but on whether or not something is good or bad period. In this case, any potentially racist name or logo should not be used in any fashion whatsoever because it offends certain individuals at the end of the day therefore deeming these names and logos as unethical.

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