What’s in a name?
Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Morgan, Mellon, Getty, Custer, Lee, Kennedy, Clinton, Bush, Trump, Musk, Bezos, and their ilk, past and present, have names that conjure up images of robber barons, imperialist land grabbers, colonizers and exploiters.
They are names that can galvanize workers and oppressed peoples to unite against their common bosses, bankers, occupiers and politicians.
It is rare, if ever, that a mainstream media broadcaster would mock or make fun of any of these infamous individuals’ last names.
In contrast, while covering an NCAA basketball game between the Wichita State Shockers and the Grand Canyon Antelopes, during the Hall of Fame Classic, Nov. 21, in Kansas City, Missouri, CBS Sports broadcasters Chick Hernandez and Chris Walker made jokes mocking Wichita State forward Isaiah Poor Bear-Chandler’s last name — a tribute to his Oglala Lakota heritage. (tinyurl.com/4scabyf7)
Isaiah Poor Bear-Chandler, whose mother is Native, grew up on the Oglala Lakota Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota — information readily available in his Wichita State Shockers bio, had Hernandez and Walker bothered to check.
Tweeting after the Nov. 21 game, he stated: “So it’s okay to make fun of my last name? Just shows your ability to be serious in a professional setting. Just because my people was almost colonized doesn’t mean I don’t know where I came from! #WeAreStillHere #WildOglala #TeachHim”
Before the Shockers’ Hall of Fame Classic championship game against San Francisco Nov. 22, Hernandez and Walker met with Poor Bear-Chandler to apologize on-air for their “comments and lack of sensitivity surrounding Isaiah’s name.”
Newser.com reported that Hernandez stated: “We appreciate Isaiah taking the time to educate us on the significance of his name and his heritage. We will continue to learn from this and be better moving forward.” Wichita State issued a statement about the inappropriate remarks noting: “To his credit, Isaiah facilitated an educational and enlightening discussion engaging numerous individuals, including CBS Sports Network’s on-air talent.” (tinyurl.com/2p8cybvp)
Racism in sports is nothing new. That this incident caused an uproar on social media, however, is a positive step forward. The struggle continues to rid the sports industry of anti-Indigenous bias, exemplified by racist, stereotypical team names and mascots such as those of the Atlanta baseball team, the Kansas City football team and numerous high school and college teams.