When will the “Redskins” change their name?

Ok, we need a break from the discussions of the election.  The one thing that this note shares in common with discussions of the November 6th election, however,  is the matter of race.

So, the Washington football team lost another game.  Yesterday they fell to the Panthers.  I am crying crocodile tears.  My feeling is that the Washington football team needs to continue to lose until they change their name.

What is it with this team?  What is it with the fans?  What is it with the Black fans?

For years Native Americans and their allies have been appealing for a name change, pointing out that the term “redskins” is as offensive as is the term “nigger.”  Nevertheless, the team’s ownership will not budge.  About two years ago i sent an email to them asking that they change their name.  I received a reply suggesting that the name was not in the least bit offensive…

…YET, one group of Native Americans after another have said just the opposite.

But what really gets me, and i mean REALLY gets me, is that African American fans of the Washington football team, particularly in the DC area, largely ignore the racism connected with this name.  We, who have been the victims of racism and racist caricatures should be at the front of the line demanding a name change.

Years ago i remember having a discussion with a black cheerleader for the Washington football team.  I raised my concerns about the name.  Her response was to write off my argument and say that the name did not matter.  I asked her what she would think if the Washington football team was called the “Washington Niggers”.  She said that she would not mind as long as the intent was not racist.

The intent was not racist???

The Washington football team is part of a list of sports organizations that believe that it is fine to use Native American names and symbolism.  There is something that is portrayed as being “cute” and “funny” about this.

After hundreds of years of wars leading to near extinction, Native Americans are forced to endure the violations associated with such degrading symbolism, whether it is in the form of the Washington “Redskins” in football or the Atlanta “Braves” in baseball.

Names do hurt, particularly when they are connected to a legacy of genocide.  There is nothing particularly funny, cute or charming about these caricatures.  It is ugly and offensive, and it is time for the fans, particularly African American fans, to make a stand on this issue.  Get the teams to change their names and stop the insults.

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