The More Things Change… (Draft)

When I was a boy he overlooked the city
Twenty-eight feet of grotesque cartoon smile and piano key teeth
Nose just crooked enough to evoke stereotyped images of his heritage
And a skin tone better suited for a different type of “engine”
But I thought nothing of him at the time
As he sat perched high atop Cleveland Municipal Stadium
I was too young to take note of this
Modern day Sambo masquerading as a mascot
I simply knew him as Chief Wahoo
But then again, times were different in my youth
Sambo himself, was still deemed a children’s classic
Despite being identified fifty years prior as a conduit for bigotry
Reminding me that progress is more akin to molasses than water
It does not take the path of least resistance
It clings to resistance with sticky sedition
And this case would be no different

For here we are in the age of so-called tolerance and understanding
And Wahoo’s presence is as prevalent in Cleveland
As snow on Christmas morning
Caught up in a culture of tomahawk chops
Complete with arrowheads and feathered headdress
And a racial slur serving as a nickname in our nation’s capital
A cancerous social commentary camouflaged as “honor” and “tradition”
We’re talking the type of appropriation
That would leave Miley Cyrus twerking with envy
But by and large the public does not care
How ironic that of all the issues
On the proverbial sociopolitical “totem pole”
That this would hang on the lowest rung
And as testament to the times
A recent poll on Cleveland.com showed
That the vast majority not only wanted
Wahoo in their midst
They took it a step further to state
he should be face of the franchise

And I wish I could say I was surprised
The age of communication
More like the age of isolation
And systematic classification
Where even historically oppressed groups
Can’t see past their own cause to realize
That we all have something worth fighting for
And I admit I often scoff when Southerners
Attempt to romanticize the Confederate flag
Claiming heritage and tradition
But for a brief moment I could almost understand
For at first it was difficult for me to grasp
That such a seemingly innocent image from my youth
Could be the cause of such hurt and heartache
for those indigenous to our homeland
But unlike the Confederate Flag
Which was removed atop from the State House
at the turn of the century
Chief Wahoo isn’t just an enduring image from my childhood
Rather, like a discombobulated traveler from another time
He is a part of my present
That belongs in the past

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