Friday, June 06, 2014

Atlanta: Where it’s perfectly okay for 23,000 white people to be racist in public.

My dad and I just got back from the world’s fastest baseball trip: 3 days, 2 nights, 3 flights and 3 baseball games. Two of these games were in Atlanta, Georgia, home of the Braves.  You can guess about the origination of the name: braves, like the racist, un-PC name for Native American chiefs. Those of you who are baseball fans already know about the Tomahawk Chop. Those of you who aren't, this is when the fans “chop” their hands and chant this sing-song-y “oh, oh oh oh oh” thing. I tried to take a video. I failed. Here's someone else's. 

I thought it was a spontaneous utterance, but no, the PA system actually tells the fans that they need to Chop. They tell the fans to chop and they put it up on the big screen. And the fans chop away. Not only that, the stadium is unabashedly full of choppy puns. The Chop Steakhouse, the Chop Bar, etc.

(This history of the Tomahawk Chop credits/blames the fans and Florida State and ... Neon Deion for bringing the Chop to the Atlanta. The pride!)

To make matters worse, the fans at Turner Field are almost universally white. The first game we went to had an announced attendance of about 38,000. We estimated that this was pretty close to accurate, but let’s say it was actually 35,000. I’d guess that no less than 30,000 of these fans were white. And if I had to guess, I’d guess that at least 25,000 of these did the Tomahawk Chop when instructed, and a good 23,000 did it with gusto. The icing on the cake: at least 95% of stadium employees were black. These choppers were chopping away while black employees stood in the sweltering heat and humidity (I almost died), making somewhere around minimum wage.

It gets even more complicated. I think that the Braves organization is TRYING to get rid of the racist overtones of the “Braves” name (is that possible?) by aligning “Braves” with “brave” as in “bravery.” They’re doing this by emphasizing the red/white/blue color scheme and, in a perfectly awful combination, tying it into patriotism/nationalism. The first game that we went to (Tuesday night), we were treated to a 10 minute ceremony honoring veterans from Vietnam and the Korean war. We stood (in the sweltering heat and humidity) and heard about each veterans’ amazing feats of Bravery (one of them had killed 13 enemy fighters). Each strikeout by a Braves pitcher was followed by fireworks. There were lots of other flag and Amurica moments: basically, Braves Country was not just about the braves, but about the Brave men who killed off those same braves. Viva Racism!