Ah yes, the good ol’ days where racism was just public opinion and political correctness didn’t exist. Where painting your skin the color of another ethnicity was funny and racial slurs were a part of everyday conversations. Oh yes, how I miss the good times of 2014. Oh wait…what?
The topic of race is not as easy to discuss as many may believe it to be. It is personal, it is subjective and it is political. People accused of racism are publicly scorned, exiled and punishable by law. However, if your race is small enough (due to the racial genocide of over 50 million native people by the end of the 20th century), corporate America makes the rules.
The Washington R*dskins have not been open to change. They are notoriously known to be the last pro team to integrate non-white players in 1962. So maybe it should be a surprise that the team’s owner Dan Snyder, is quoted saying, “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.” The word R*dskins, a highly offensive and derogatory term used to identify Native Americans or Indians, has been defended in “honor” of Native Americans. I don’t recall the N-word being received “honorably” when an enraged Riley Cooper, a white wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles, yelled it at a country music concert…interesting. While this issue, is one I feel intensely passionate about I am going to make sure this blog post focuses purely on Dan Snyder’s recent #winning attempt at positive PR.
In Snyder’s recent letter, he claims a multitude of justifying motives to keep the team’s name. Well, turns out journalists like to check their facts. Unfortunately for Dan, none of his were true. Not only did he lie about the inaugural coach’s native background, he did not have the support from local tribes. It was in fact the opposite as the Oneida Indian Nation has made multiple attempts to sit down and discuss a name change. That’s definitely a few penalty flags. Snyder continues to illustrate an emotional memory of his first R*dskin’s game he attended with his late father and how the name had no racist connotation at that time. Well, Dan Snyder is now 49 years old. At the time he attended the game with his father he was about 9 (I assume as he still had a childlike desire to hold a parent’s hand in public), therefore we are looking at the mid 1970s. And because racism wasn’t a big deal in the 70s, (which it was) and you didn’t notice it then (because people were racist), that makes it ok now (it doesn’t). Seems logical Dan.
But who cares? Uh oh wait, a lot of people.
In 2002, students at the University of Northern Colorado formed the intramural basketball team “The Fighting Whites” in response to the local and national Native American mascot controversy. The team consisted of students with Latino, White and Native American ethnicity and used a stereotypical 1950s white male as their mascot.
76 news outlets and journalists have banned the r-word (because it is universally recognized as a racial slur) and refuse to publish it. This includes 35 newspapers, 18 TV outlets, and 13 online organizations.
In 2013, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray raised the issue, stating that the team should lose its trademark protection because the name is disparaging.
In May 2013, 10 members of Congress wrote Dan Snyder begging him to change the name.
There have been multiple blogs, stories and articles posted about the Dan Snyder’s R*dskins. My favorite is an open letter addressed to Dan Snyder, written by Dave Zirin of Grantland. He uses these quotes to illustrate his obvious opinion:
“We’ll start signing Negroes when the Harlem Globetrotters start signing whites.”
—George Preston Marshall; founder of the Washington Redskins, 1961
So why hasn’t it changed? How does Dan Snyder, the owner of a means of entertainment, have more control of this decision than the President of the United States, members of Congress, the Mayor of D.C. and the affected race of Native Americans. Scary thought, huh?
While I’m sure there are 100 reasons people can come up with to keep the name (none of which Dan Snyder thought of), there is one reason to change it: It’s racist. If only that were the bottom line in every case.
“There’s gonna come a time – I don’t know when it is, 20 years, 40 years, whenever – there’s gonna come a time when people are gonna look back and say can you believe those idiots thought Redskins was appropriate?” he said. “That day is coming, because the Redskins will be so far removed from the NFL you’re gonna need a microscope to find it. It’s here for now, but it won’t be for long.” – Gregg Doyel, CBS Sports columnist.
Hail to the Redskins!
Braves on the warpath!
Fight for Old D.C.!
Scalp ’em, swamp ‘um
We will take ‘um big score
Read ‘um, Weep ‘um, touchdown
We want heap more
Fight on, fight on, till you have won
Sons of Washington
Rah! Rah! Rah!
Original lyrics (1962 to ’80s)