Monday, January 30, 2006

Trouble Lies More Than Name Deep

For those who don't live in Texas or follow soccer, the San Jose Earthquake recently relocated to the area and have been renamed Houston 1836, ostenably to honor the year the city was founded. In yesterday's Houston Chronicle, U of H professor Raul A. Ramos wrote of his and other Mexican-American's disappointment with the name, given its not so coincidental relationship to the Texan vs. Mexican War for Independance.

For transparency purposes, let me say that I absolutely hate the name and doubt very much it was the community consensus team owners would have us believe. While there was a poll of sorts to choose which name online voters preferred, the length of time needed to, get the publicity machine up and moving, supposedly conduct market and focus group research, and print the team logo on assorted banners, souvenirs and collectables, belies a previously chosen moniker.

When I heard the name had been chosen, I was not surprised and truthfully put it out of my mind. I know people who support the Texans as a franchise while not particularly likings the name or current manifestation of the team (good luck Coach Kubiak). It was not until I read Mr. Ramos' commentary that I realized there might be a bigger problem with the name, and truthfully, when I first read the piece, I thought he was making a mountain out of a molehill. Really, if this was the biggest worry facing the Mexican-American community, things must be going pretty well.

Then a funny thing happened; I could not stop thinking about the issue. With all the other things out the to worry about, write about, I was stuck on this one. And when that happens (as those who practice this bold exercise in futility called blogging say), you just start writing and see where it takes you. In this case, I started to think about my own ethnicity verses my gender. While I did not immediately understand the matter being Anglo, as a woman, his argument began to make more sense. Ramos says, "Naming the team 1836 smacks of nostalgia for a time when Mexican people were absent or atleast knew their place."

We live in a time where the government of this land is trying desperately to push our civil rights and liberties back fifty years. Today, the senate is voting to confirm the president's nominee for SCOTUS justice, Samuel Alito, a man who would empower our already power-mad executive branch to invade our privacy, vote to strip away my rights as a woman to make medical decisions concerning my own body, and who joined an alumni club who's stated goal was to limit the numbers of minorities on their school campus.

Maybe Professor Ramos is worried about the team name because he is afraid of what he already sees happening in this country. Soccer may not be as high profile as national government, but professional sports are big business these days. Being 40% of the population, Hispanics in Houston may just choose vote with their wallets and purses by not supporting a team, a name, an identity that is personally demeaning to them.

I'm not native American, but I wonder how I would feel about the Washington Redskins if I were. The anti-PC crowd suggests no one campaigns about the 76ers offending Anglo-Americans, but of course whites integrated as a culture after the American Revolution. It took nearly 200 years for other races and cultures (and genders) to be treated a better than second-class citizens in the land of their birth. Anything, that endangers the gains made in equality for all people, should fail, be it a sports team or a SCOTUS nominee.

I wonder how many Iraqis would buy the jersey of the next MLS expansion team, Baghdad 2003, with a smirking, flight-suited Bush peeking over a Mission Accomplished Banner.