The fall out from George Floyd’s death by a Minneapolis police officer has been anything but subtle. Almost every CEO, sports superstar, and Hollywood type has come out taking a hard line against racism; as they all should. Aunt Jemima has been discarded and besmirched. Eskimo pies, Uncle Ben’s, Mrs. Butterworth’s, Cream of Wheat, and Land O’ Lakes are being dramatically rebranded. Is this a grave injustice or a great injunction? There is an argument that can be made for both sides.
People that know me know I was born and raised in Illinois. They would know I love my state, family, friends, residents here and above all else I fear GOD. Growing up I took a lot of pride in sports but more than that I admonished certain figures and what they represented. One was Chief Illiniwek. The mascot for the University of Illinois dating back to 1926. I remember my father taking my younger brother and I to my first ever college basketball game. You guessed it … at the University of Illinois. It was Purdue vs Illinois that night. During halftime Chief Illiniwek came out and got the crowd fired up. There he was … the chief in all his glory no longer some mascot. Chief Illiniwek embodied the strength of the Native American people. We weren’t applauding the routine we were honoring the history. For one cannot forget tragedy’s past when it stares you in the face. One cannot forget the incredible history of indigenous tribes across America when you look out and see the face of him or her. The years rolled along as I saw the chief a few more times and then the pressure was on to remove the chief. Chief Illiniwek was retired in February 2007 along with the tradition that Illini fans cherished dearly. In removing the tradition the people in charge failed to realize they removed the history lesson as well.
When I look out viewing what is happening nowadays whether its social injustice or injustice anywhere I see a failure to understand history. A failure to understand each other. Sometimes we lose sight of what we set out for originally in the madness. More is lost when we don’t reconcile with the past or seek counsel of others wiser than us. Companies have a right to change their logo to appear more inclusive and from a business stand point I’m on board with that notion. However; in that same line of thinking I am not on board with shilling out and forgetting the history on which our nation was built. No matter how uncomfortable that may be it must be. Guilt cannot be converted into Triumph. Retribution cannot bear rewards. In closing; companies have a bottom line and more are allowing profits to override their mission statement, values and company structure than not.