Over the past month or so, you've probably been worried about heavier news stories than those regarding the nicknames of NFL franchises. Benghazi. Drones. NSA spying. IRS. The unfolding Amanda Bynes fiasco. There's a lot to stay informed about.
Still, though, there's an ongoing, necessary debate over the name of Washington's NFL franchise that has found its way to the forefront of the recent news cycle. They're (obviously) called the "Redskins" and their nickname has garnered a bevy of (much-deserved) scrutiny, lately, because 10 members of Congress sent letters to the team's owner, Dan Snyder, and NFL and FedEx officials condemning the derogatory term. Dan Snyder responded unfavorably to the criticism and Roger Goodell sent a letter that did nothing to help the situation.
Luckily, there's an entire contingent of folks on the Internet (including some Washington fans) who are ready and willing to remind everyone that the team's nickname is was born out of racial insensitivity and continues to perpetuate the same exclusionary and offensive standard.
The Daily Beast's Michael Tomasky details the origin of the name and the racist owner that changed it.
Marshall had made a fortune in the commercial laundry business when he purchased the Boston Braves football team in 1932. His second coach was a man whose mother was thought to be part Sioux. Not known to be—thought to be. And on that flimsy basis, Marshall changed the name, in this coach’s “honor” (even though Marshall fired him after two seasons), from Braves to Redskins. It seems telling that “Braves” was somehow not authentic enough for Marshall. [The Daily Beast]
Amanda Blackhorse at the Huffington Post explains why the name offends her and recounts instances of discrimination she endured at an NFL game in 2005.
In 2005, I attended a game between the Washington and Kansas City NFL teams, in Kansas City. I recall how the game was hyped as an "Indians fighting Indians" event, much like the "Cowboys versus Indians" hype when Dallas plays Washington. What I saw at the Kansas City-Washington game was depressing. I saw fans "playing Indian," wearing outrageous and pathetic costumes that stereotyped traditional Native American regalia. While my friends and I held signs that said "we are not mascots," we had all sorts of obscenities hurled at us, along with angry shouts of "get the hell out of here," "get over it," "go home," and "go back to your reservation." [HuffPo]
Grantland's Dave Zirin (a Washington fan), writes an open letter to Dan Snyder, urging the owner to change the name to prevent further discrimination (and in Snyder's own interests).
I'm sure all concerned are very relieved to hear that "redskin" is a term of unity and respect, because if there was one thing George Preston Marshall believed in, it was unity and respect. Oh, also white supremacy. Unity, respect, and white supremacy. (In other news from NFL Bizarro World, there is still no conclusive proof that traumatic brain injury is linked to football.) [Grantland]