Monday, October 14, 2013

"Redskins" isn't historical - it's distasteful

During last night's Redskins-Cowboys Sunday Night Football broadcast, Bob Costas did a commentary regarding the name of the Washington Redskins. Here is a link to the transcript :

The debate over whether or not teams should change their Native American mascots has been going on for years. Many schools and franchises have opted to make the switch, including the University of Massachusetts Minutemen (a much better fit than the Redmen) and St. John's University Red Storm (prior to 1994 they were also the Redmen), while others, including the Redskins and Cleveland Indians, remain steadfast in their approval of their names. Some teams, including the Florida State Seminoles, have chosen to keep their name because the Seminole tribe has given their approval. However, the difference between calling a team "Seminole" or "Sioux" or "Blackhawks" is vastly different than "Redskins" or even "Indians." The former are accurate names of a people; the latter are inaccurate terms once used to describe a race by an uninformed majority and therefore should not be used as the names of sports teams.

Owner Dan Snyder sent out an email last week to Washington fans, telling them why he believes his team should keep the name "Redskins." In it, he writes: "The name was never a label. It was, and continues to be, a badge of honor." In the email, Snyder is trying to gain support for one of the major arguments against changing the Redskins moniker which is, "most Native Americans aren't offended by it." To that I say phooey. I am not all about the "PC movement," but I don't agree with using derogatory terms as names of sports teams just because it's been that way for so many years. If a team was called the "Washington Crackers," even though I might not be personally offended as a white person, I would still not agree with the name, because it is a derogatory term about a specific race.

Native American Steve Morales, of Dallas, holds up a sign that reads "Redskin does not honor Native People", as he joins others in protest outside of an NFL football game between the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, October 13, 2013, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

The term "redskin" was never a term of affection, and therefore using it as a team name is no longer OK. Just because the team has had its name since 1933 doesn't mean they should get to keep it. Today, using the term "redskin" in any way other than referring to the Washington football team is seen as taboo and derogatory. For that fact alone, the name "Redskins" must change. 

Photo from  Verlin Deer In Water, a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma shows his t-shirt during an interview in Washington, Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, calling for the Washington Redskins NFL football team to change its name, prior to the start of the Oneida Indian Nation's Change the Mascot symposium. During an interview, President Barack Obama suggested that the owner of the Washington Redskins football team consider changing its name because, the president said, the current name offends "a sizable group of people." (Carolyn Kaster)
I am 30, and growing up we called Native Americans "Indians." However, the times have changed and "Indian" now refers to the people who are actually from India. Calling Native Americans "Indians" is not only offensive, it is completely inaccurate. Many people of an older generation can't get used to this change, but just because they don't want to change or don't agree with it doesn't mean the change isn't right. I liken it to referring to any Asian person as "Chinese," any Hispanic person as "Mexican," or any Eastern European as "Russian" – you may not mean to offend, but you are affronting those you are calling the wrong nationality.

Calling a Native American an "Indian" or a "redskin" is no longer "OK" in our society, and to still use those terms as the moniker for a sports team is distasteful and just plain wrong.


Anonymous said...

I feel like they could change the logo and not make it a native american head and maybe something different and still keep the name but i guess if it is offensive to people then why not change it. I still dont think it was ever meant to be racist but i can see how it can be taken that way and again why not change it just to avoid controversy.Im 25% native american my grandmother was full chippewa and she lived in Cleveland most her life and was a huge sports fan and loved the indians and never was the least bit offended and i know that most native americans are not offended by these team names and i feel like its almost guilt by other races mostly white people for what they did to the native americans so now its a way for them to have a clear conscience if they speak against these names. i dont know just my and my familys opinion on this subject. but again why not just change it to end this debate.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, there are so many nations that represent the American Indian race that it's almost impossible to know the nation and band. The best way to go about trying to identify an Indian's heritage is to ask what nation and band they are a member.

Anonymous said...

That's odd because I was led to believe that they are offended to be called "Native" because all American's born in America are Native Americans and that they prefer American Indian then the tribe.

Anonymous said...

well you cant speak for all the different tribes and what they prefer to be called all i know is my family had no issue with native american.