I have been looking forward to introducing my son to team sports since he was born, so knowing he was turning 4 years old last month, I was anxious to get him into tee-ball this year.
Last week I went to pick up his uniform, and I was incredibly excited. That is, until I walked up to the commissioner distributing the garb and was asked for his name. When I told him, he said "Let's see, does he play for the Iroquois or the Sioux? "What?!" I thought to myself. "Hmm, oh, here it is, Mr. Monts ... he plays for the Sioux," he said.
I was seriously in shock. How could the Harper Woods Little League dare rain on my parade like that! There is no way in hell this could be really happening, I thought, so I said, "Excuse me?"
He said, again, "Iroquois or Sioux?" Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. These people don't think there's anything wrong with this. How can that be. It's 2009!
But the reality is that my son's Little League still names teams after cultures of people who were here before their ancestors. I'm into diversity and inclusion, I believe in the principles of cultural sensitivity and try to be sensitive to offending people who don't look like me, come from where I come from or believe what I believe. In short, I'm a diversity advocate. Now I have a dilemma.
I have a 4 year old boy who I have placed in a precarious situation. He could care less about playing tee-ball or any other sport. I brought him into the league, and apologies to Bill Cosby, I can take him out. But I'm torn about doing so. I want to protest. I held him out of the annual Harper Woods Little League parade, for which they were picking up their uniforms early. They were to wear them, proudly, while marching Saturday. I took the uniform, but didn't tell him about the parade because he would have wanted to go, and there was no way I was participating in that.
Now I'm pondering my next move. Fortunately, the uniforms only bear the names of the teams and not some ridiculously offensive depiction of a Native American. It's not as bad as the Atlanta Braves or Washington Redskins or Highland Park Blackies. Okay, I made the last one up (sorry HP).
The point is, I wouldn't want someone reducing the existence of African Americans to a mascot. Nor would I want mascot status bestowed upon black people, or people or any other hue -- period. I am also sensitive to situations in which other folks are put into similar positions. It's just wrong.
The dilemma comes into play regarding my next move. Do I involve Roddy in my protest of the league's practice? I would hate to put him on a team and potentially have him ostracized because of my beliefs. But I also would hate to have him be complicit in the league's obvious insensitivity.
I think I'm going to have him play the season with tape over the word "Sioux" to call attention to my objection to the reference. I am also going to ask other parents of players to do the same.
It's time to take a stand. What do you think?