As the American League Championship Series gets underway, The United Church of Canada and the United Church of Christ offer this reflection on mascots, racial stereotyping, and reconciliation. Communities of faith are asked to share it this weekend, and members are encouraged to take part in the #NotMyMascot campaign on social media. Share your reflections about the Cleveland team name and mascot using this hashtag.
As churches in full communion, The United Church of Canada and the United Church of Christ frequently travel the roads between Toronto and Cleveland, where our national offices are located. This fall, another group of travellers are on those roads, as Toronto’s and Cleveland’s Major League Baseball teams meet in the American League Championship Series.
Part of our full communion relationship is that we share each other’s struggles and concerns. At its General Council last year, following participation in the seven-year-long Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) on Indian Residential Schools, The United Church of Canada prioritized reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in its work, and began a process to live out the TRC’s Calls to Action. That same summer, as part of its commitment to racial justice, delegates at the United Church of Christ’s General Synod in Cleveland marched to Progressive Field and petitioned the city’s baseball team to cease its use of a demeaning, stereotypical mascot.
Today, as these teams prepare to meet again in a series that many of us will be watching, we join together to urge Cleveland’s baseball team to find a new name and a new mascot—ones that do not disrespect the wide and varied histories and cultures of Indigenous peoples. To do so would be one small but significant step toward racial justice and reconciliation.
We are encouraged by the steps taken by many sportscasters and writers to refer to the team simply as “Cleveland.” This shows a growing level of awareness and a willingness to change that we must all engage in. And so, as the series gets underway this weekend, we urge all members of our churches, no matter whom they cheer for, to cheer justly—and in a spirit of reconciliation.
The Right Rev. Jordan Cantwell, Moderator, The United Church of Canada
The Rev. John C. Dorhauer, General Minister and President, United Church of Christ
Nora Sanders, General Secretary, The United Church of Canada