The Atlanta Braves re-issued their racist so-called “screaming savage” logo on their batting practice cap in December. Although the team eventually pulled it from players, the caps remain available for those who want to willfully ignore how offensive the imagery is.
Part of the problem with stereotypes about Natives in particular is the perpetual myth that there are no Natives in urban areas. So what happens when an urban Oglala Lakota journalist based in New York City spots a guy from the Bronx sporting the cap on the subway? Well, here’s how it begins:
“What are you wearing?” I asked.
“What?” he responded. He surveyed his chest. “This?” He then gripped a thin gold chain on his neck.
“No. Your hat, man,” I said. “What does it mean?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Nothing,” he responded. “It just matched my shoes.”
“Ah, OK. … Hey, I’m Simon.”
“Are you from New York?” I asked.
“Yeah. Born and raised in the Bronx.”
“Right on,” I said.
“Where are you from?” he asked.
“The West. Denver, specifically.”
“Ah, visiting then.”
“No,” I blurted. “I live here now—in Brooklyn.”
“That’s cool,” he said, nodding.
“Hey, you know,” I shouted over the groan of the zipping train, “… I actually do know what your hat means. I was just wondering if you did.”
“Oh yeah? I thought it was just a [dope] hat.”
“Well it’s actually a batting practice cap that was discontinued. It’s called the ‘Screaming Savage;’ it’s an Atlanta Braves hat.”
Read the rest of Simon Moya-Smith’s exchange with the anonymous cap wearer on Indian Country Media Today Network here.