NFL Is On The Wrong Side of History On This One

Lame justifications.

Lame justifications.

Come on Roger Goodell. Don’t be on the wrong side of history.

After receiving a letter from 10 members of Congress on May 13 urging him to remove the “racial, derogatory slur” from the name of one of his league’s marquee franchises, Goodell responded in a letter dated June 5 that was posted online by Indian Country Today Media Network on Tuesday. Goodell defended the moniker by citing the team’s rationale for choosing it in 1933 as well as it’s current meaning among fans.

“The Washington Redskins name has thus from its origin represented a positive meaning distinct from any disparagement that could be viewed in some other context,” Goodell wrote. “For the team’s millions of fans and customers, who represent one of America’s most ethnically and geographically diverse fan bases, the name is a unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect.”

He and others need to realize that it doesn’t matter what you try to pretty up the slur to mean, it is still a slur. And that it is such a public slur on an ethnic group that has already been horribly treated in this country makes it even worse. Can you imagine a team named with the “n-word”? Well to some native americans this is similar. Seems to me if there is ANY hurt involved in the name why use it? There are so many choices in the world that are harmless and not insulting.

Be not mistaken. This is about money and branding. And the cost involved in having to change the name and all the merchandising. But it would not be unprecedented. In fact another Washington team changed its name. The NBA franchise, The Washington Bullets, in response to concern that the name celebrated gun violence in a city racked with such violence, changed its name to the Washington Wizards. And the world did not end. Maybe some wizards were insulted somewhere. But otherwise, no big deal.

Here is a link to the full article and the great responses to Goodell’s statement.

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6 thoughts on “NFL Is On The Wrong Side of History On This One

  1. K.C. Wise says:

    Reblogged this on Black. Bunched. Mass. Mom. and commented:
    I’m a Redskins fan. I was born into it and I love the team. It’s been hard to reconcile all that I know about history, language and hate and still put on my favorite Redskins jersey every Sunday. I know that it’s wrong and yet I sincerely love the team and its players. I wish that the NFL could find a way to honor this team, its history and its fans while also offering respect for a population of this country that has been, frankly, decimated. Very thoughtful and interesting suggestions have been made. I wish that someone would have the good sense to consider them and execute them. The NFL has the money. It simply needs the courage. How can such big, rich, seemingly untouchable men be so utterly irresponsible and cowardly?

    And yes, I recognize that I’m a hypocrite. I have an RGIII throwback jersey that I can’t wait to start wearing again when the season starts. I’m just as guilty as the fools at NFL headquarters.

    • Earnest Harris says:

      I saw that. Thanks for re-blogging it. And I loved your comment. It is a tough one and yet at the same time, as you note, not tough at all. The team should do what’s right. The fans will still be fans. Without the contradiction.

  2. maryhelenc says:

    I’m on the fence. On the one hand, the team has had the name for pretty much ever and just now it’s becoming an issue? Sometimes it seems like the world is just getting a little too PC. After all, Cleveland still has the Indians and no one is saying anything. Same with the Atlanta Braves. Hockey has the Blackhawks. Of course an argument could be made that they are keeping the KC Chiefs, why not change that too? I think if you’re going to complain about one, you need to change them all.

    • Earnest Harris says:

      There are indeed people who feel as you do on this one. So I understand. But I disagree. As to the length of time and it just being more PC now, I don’t think it matters if we have been doing something for a long time. Times do change and sometimes over time, we just become more aware of things. The argument for tradition would have to extend to so many discriminatory practices that eventually fell. from women’s rights to minority rights to laws banning “interracial” marriage, etc. I don’t think it is ever a good idea to keep doing something wrong just because we have been wrong for a long time.

      On the other teams with native american mascots, actually there have been calls for them to change their names as well. But most agree that the term “redskin” was a derogatory term settlers used for native americans. Braves was not. Blackhawks was not. As to the Cleveland Indians, ignoring the fact that the name is not even correct since most everyone has dispensed with calling native americans “indians,” you may know that lots of people have pushed for that caricature logo to be dropped. But hopefully you can see that the word “redskin” is in a different category because it was a negative slur as opposed to the name of a tribe, say like The University of Florida Seminoles.

      Thanks for commenting though.

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