Why the Redskins need to change their name immediately

Oct. 8, 2002, midnight | By Josh Gottlieb-Miller | 21 years, 1 month ago

The Washington Colored People. The Washington Crackers. The Washington Chinks. Anyone who believes a professional football team would never use this kind of ethnic slur for their name must not have heard of the Washington Redskins.

I find it hard to believe that Washington's professional football team continually refuses to change a name that is offensive to Native Americans across the nation, as well as to many concerned people of other races. Redskin is a racist moniker originally used by pale Europeans to degradingly refer to Native American skin color. Although the Washington Bullets were forced to change their name because of "violent connotations," the clearly insulting and racist "Redskin," is still considered acceptable by its supporters.

In a meek attempt to deflect negative response the Redskins have begun wearing retro team uniforms with spear and feathers insignia on the helmet at home games instead of the insulting Native American head. Clearly, more can be done to change what football loyalists call a "tradition" of stereotyping.

"Anyone who's against discrimination should agree with [a name change]," die- hard Redskins fan and junior Jonathan Evans says of his favorite football team's controversial name. Like many Blair students, Evans has several more pointed comments about the Redskins. He says, "I think it's wrong. I think they should change it, because we invaded their land…and changed their way of life. So we leave them with nothing and use types of names that are derogatory. It's similar to persecution of other races."

The issue has reverberated throughout the area, causing Poolesville High School to rightfully change their team name from the Indians to the Falcons after protests.

Many other students from Blair also take issue with the Redskins racist name. Senior Jack Samuel is 1/25 Cherokee and junior Pete Musto is 1/8 Sauk, and although they are not particularly angry about the name they both agree that it is "offensive."

Meanwhile the supporters of the Redskins' name claim that the term is affectionate. Yeah, Redskin is about as affectionate as the word "Negro," but fortunately most people stopped using that a while ago, and no football teams have been bold enough to use that lately. Redskins' owner Danny Snyder also says that any name change would cost them merchandising profits and would go against tradition. Of course as a "tradition," it doesn't matter that Redskins is racist and insulting, so Snyder should make as much money off it as he can. Sure.

Some Blair students disagree with Snyder completely. Junior Merrick Lancaster Brown takes a more confrontational approach to the Redskins name than other students, adopting the edge of a stand-up comedian. "It affects me as a member of society…because I have to be responsible. I think there should also be a team named the New York [N word]. Isn't that a Chris Rock skit?" Brown sarcastically remarks.

The casual racism implicit in such a degrading name is reason enough for the Redskins to change their name in some way. It's hard to believe that Snyder or any of the people who support the Washington Redskins' name would respond as favorably to the Washington [N word] Honkies. I wonder how willing they'd be to support that tradition.

Tags: print

Josh Gottlieb-Miller. More »

Show comments


No comments.

Please ensure that all comments are mature and responsible; they will go through moderation.