Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Did we forget about the Redskins?

It was just last week that we were all holding hands singing "We Shall Overcome" and celebrating the swift judgement handed down against Clippers' owner Donald Sterling. People called his comments grotesque and stood in awe that the NBA would have ever let this kind of person through their multi-billion dollar doors.

I haven't felt outrage in a long time. It seems people get outraged about nearly everything these days. As +Ari Sarsalari so eloquently put it, "We've created a web of fake outrage and fake apologies." But is this a genuine reason, like the comments made by Sterling, to feel a rush of unjustness? I pose you this question:

Did we forget about the Redskins?

For years, Native Americans have protested the mascot and name of the NFL's Washington, D.C. team. The Redskins have been so eloquently called for more than eighty years. The largest representative body in the Native American world, The National Congress of the American Indian, has stated publicly, a lot, the the "R-word" is a racial slur and considerably offensive. They aren't the only ones either. Nearly a dozen human rights groups and government commissions find it rude too. An yet, the name lives on.

To save face, the team's ownership has attempted to make good with the Native American community. Current owner Daniel Synder even created an association to fund scholarships called The Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation. But the name stayed.

Last week, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada publicly urged the NFL to change the name of the team and follow in the footsteps of the "certainly not racist" NBA.

Synder has relentlessly defended the team's name and then subsequently portrayed himself as a supporter of all things American Indian.

Lawmakers like Reid meanwhile have said that the name was birthed in racism and have put pressure on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to change it. He claims public polls show support for keeping the name.

Considering Sterling's comments, what if the NBA had instead swept the issue under the rug? What if they'd allowed him to keep his team and instead created a non-profit that funds scholarships for inner city Black kids? My Twitter feed would have exploded. So why then do we let this kind of a racist blunder continue? Is it because there aren't a lot of six foot six members of the Cherokee Nation shooting free throws at the Staples Center?

Riddle me that kids.

**Disclosure: I'm one-eighth Cherokee Indian. Just enough to brag about it in bars when somebody tells me I look exotic.


  1. It's remarkable how clueless many people manage to be with respect to racial slurs. I wonder what these same people would think if a NFL football team were named "The Yellowskins" "the Blackskins" or "the Whiteskins"? The name "Redskins" is far from being the only clueless or bigoted attitude and reference to first nations peoples. Why, after discovering more than five centuries ago that this is not India are we still calling them "Indians"? Why were 1st nation peoles still used as slaves for gold mining long after the "Emancipation Proclamation"? Why do the DEA and FBI raid Lacota peoples' reservations and destroy fields of hemp grown for rope (a very different variety of plant than the kind grown for pot)? The first nation peoples of this country deserve the same human rights and respect that the white corporate male ruling class gets.

  2. Good questions but just like any other tremendously huge business,like GE,Monsanto,Comcast,etc...the NFL feels it's above the will of the people. As long as fans continue to buy tickets,jerseys and other related team property,the name will stay.