Bomani Jones Wore A ‘Caucasians’ T-Shirt On ESPN, And Twitter Went Nuts

Jeremy Laukkonen - Author
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Apr. 7 2016, Updated 1:15 p.m. ET

https://phoenix.playwire.com/en/publishers/1013074/videos/4765715

Bomani Jones showed up this morning to co-host ESPN’s Mike & Mike show wearing a “Caucasians” T-shirt that instantly sparked controversy. The shirt is a parody of the Cleveland Indians logo, with Caucasians replacing Indians and the Chief Wahoo logo altered to have white skin and a dollar sign in place of his feather.

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First Take host Molly Qerim asked Bomani Jones point blank about his choice to wear the Caucasians T-shirt on the air.

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“So we need to address the elephant in the room. Your T-shirt is dominating the social media conversation right now amongst our viewers. What motivated you to wear it?”

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Jones initially joked that he wore the Caucasians shirt because “it was clean.” However, he went on to say that he really likes the T-shirt and that he was trying to make a larger point about sports teams using Native American names and imagery.

“This is the same thing that goes on with the logo for the Cleveland Indians,” Bomani Jones told Qerim, referring to the design of his Caucasians T-shirt. “So to have a problem with this would be to have a problem with the Indians. But if you’re quiet about the Indians, but now you’ve got something to say about my shirt, I think it’s time for introspection. I think that’s a fair thing.”

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Jones is talking about Cleveland’s controversial logo, known as Chief Wahoo, which is a caricature of a Native American with bright red skin, a hooked nose, and a headband that holds a single feather. His shirt substitutes Caucasians for Indians in the same font and reworks the Chief Wahoo logo to have white skin, blond hair, and a dollar sign growing out of his head in lieu of the single feather.

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Qerim asked Bomani Jones about other sports teams, like the Florida State Seminoles and Atlanta Braves, which also use Native American imagery and names. Jones allowed that there is a “level of nuance” in the case of the Seminoles that he doesn’t understand but alleges that there is “no defense” for teams like the Braves and Redskins, the latter of which he refers to as an outright slur as opposed to a term like “Caucasians.”

“The tomahawk on the Braves jersey,” Bomani told Qerim on First Take. “There’s no defense for doing that. The Indians logo, there’s no defense for doing that. Why would you make these people a mascot?”

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The nuance that Jones refers to in the case of Florida State is that the Seminole Tribe of Florida sanctions the use of their name. Florida State also replaced their Sammy Seminole mascot with a representation of historical Seminole war leader Osceola in the 1970s.

Another similar example of an official sanction is the University of Utah, which received permission from the Ute tribe to use their name for sports teams.

Usages like the Seminoles and Utes remain controversial in some circles, but Bomani Jones suggests that there is a difference between cases like those and generic team names like the Atlanta Braves and Washington Redskins.

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Cleveland has recently moved away from Chief Wahoo as a primary logo, as previously reported by the Inquisitr. The “block c” logo has replaced Chief Wahoo in some applications, like road caps, but it remains on home caps, jersey sleeves, and elsewhere.

According to Bomani Jones, the reason that Cleveland and other teams have refused to actually do away with their logos is due to money.

“It’s the same as the Cleveland Indians shirt,” Jones said of his Caucasians shirt, “with just one small change. That’s it! I think the money sign is very helpful, because people still buy this stuff. Like the reason they won’t get rid of Chief Wahoo, which is completely indefensible, is because they can still sell stuff with it. They can say they’re going to de-emphasize it, but they’re not just going to set money on fire.”

According to NBC Sports, the Caucasians shirt isn’t anything new, and Shelf Life Clothing has been producing the design since at least 2007.

Do you think that Bomani Jones’ Caucasians T-shirt is funny or offensive, and do you think it will actually spark a larger discussion on the use of names like Indians, Braves, and Redskins for sports teams?

[Screenshot via ESPN]

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