This article can also be found at Degree180.
Another year has gone by and the Washington Redskins have yet again failed to awaken from their dream that they are living in the 1930s.
In 2016 we’re existing in an era of great social change and I was kind of under the impression that racial slurs weren’t socially acceptable anymore, especially in the NFL; you know, the mammoth institution that stridently represents America’s favorite and most beloved pastime?
So, what’s the problem with the name the “Redskins” anyway?
Let’s start with an analogy: would naming any sports team the “Blackskins” or the “Yellowskins” be deemed socially acceptable? I sincerely hope I don’t even need to answer that question.
Most important of all, and a reason that none of us can sensibly argue with: Native American people have repeatedly expressed that the name is offensive to them. When it comes down to it, there is simply a lot of blatant disregard for the Native people in this country. Do we really have room to argue with a group of very marginalized people about what’s appropriate for them to find offensive?
Yet another question to which I hope I do not need to provide an answer.
If there was an award for the most racist team name in the NFL, Washington would win it, hands down.
For decades now, Native activists have continuously urged Washington to abandon its team name, so why hasn’t anything changed?
The answer to that question lies with the team’s owner, Dan Snyder.
Snyder has publicly been very adamant about keeping the name on the grounds that it “continues to hold the memories and meaning of where we came from, who we are, and who we want to be in the years to come.”
In other words: because tradition.
That’s right, people; Dan Snyder doesn’t want to change his team’s name because “that’s just the way it’s always been.” Because tradition is synonymous with “morally right,” and “superior.”
Right, you guys?
To prove he doesn’t really hate Native Americans, however, Snyder runs an organization called the Original Americans Foundation, through which he donates money to Native tribes.
Oh how nice!
Not so fast. The organization has been called out for its malicious intent to covertly promote the racist team name to the Native people on the receiving end of the donations.
Nevertheless, fortunately not all hope is lost. The American public has largely condemned the team’s name; various publications have taken a vow not to use the name in their published works, and several politicians have publicly called out for a name change.
In July, “a federal judge upheld the stripping of the team’s federal trademark protection on the basis of the moniker being offensive to Native Americans,” and in September, the state of California decreed that no public school will be allowed to call itself the “Redskins.”
Yes, it’s true: even high schools in California are more progressive than a team full of accomplished, grown men.
Mr. Snyder, in conclusion I’d like to ask you, as a fellow white person, is it really our place to tell Native American people what they should or shouldn’t be offended by? Part of social change is listening to marginalized groups, owning up to our past faults as a culture and progressing past them.
Change is inevitable, and it’s only a matter of time before the backlash becomes unbearable for Dan Snyder.