Why Is the Chicago Blackhawks Logo Okay but Washington Redskins Racist?

June 17, 2013

The Chicago Blackhawks are currently tangling with the Boston Bruins in a so-far thrilling Stanley Cup Finals clash between the two Original Six clubs. The first two games have been fast, tense, exciting, both going to overtime, with each team claming a victory. Game 3 is tonight in Boston (8 p.m./ET, NBCSN; check local listings to confirm coverage in your area) and it should be another fun night of hockey.

Through all the championship chatter, though, one interesting question seems to be going unanswered--or even asked: Why isn't Chicago taking heat for their Indian logo and name like the Washington Pigskins do? The club is in the spotlight again, after winning the 2010 Stanley Cup, so that famous Blackhawks logo is everywhere right now. But they seem to get a pass. Is some Native imagery okay? Who decides?

One commentor, however, is taking a look at this lack of controversy. Today, CBS Chicago's Tim Baffoe posted the column "Should the Blackhawks Ditch Their Indian Head Logo?"

"[Why] isn’t the Indian head logo more often a topic of conversation when it comes to offensive sports imagery? Why isn’t the organization in the Stanley Cup Final almost ever asked to justify it," asks Baffoe. 

He answers his questions, in part, by writing, "The Hawks don’t use a caricature or slur that other teams have come under fire for. In fact, there is almost zero Native American 'stuff' used by the organization other than just their very famous logo. I don’t mind the Blackhawks Indian head logo. Hell, I’d say it looks pretty badass."

For those unfamiliar with the history of the Blackhawks name, here's a quick history via The New York Times: "The Blackhawks’ founder was Maj. Frederic McLaughlin, whose family owned Manor House Coffee, a popular brand in the first half of the 20th century. McLaughlin named the team after the Blackhawk division, a unit he helped lead as an officer in the Army. It was formed during World War I, but the war ended before the unit, or McLaughlin, saw action. The unit was named for a Sauk and Fox American Indian leader who fought against the United States government in the War of 1812 and in 1832." (For more on Chief Black Hawk, click here.) The team's immmensly popular Blackhawks Indian head logo was created by Irene Castle, wife of McLaughlin, in 1926 at the team’s inception into the NHL.

Read Baffoe's column by clicking here. And please share your thoughts on the Blackhawks logo with ICTMN by commenting below.


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