Cup of Joe: Ignorance in Washington

Illustration by Dafne Sanchez

Illustration by Dafne Sanchez/The Carolinian

By Joseph Abraham, Editor-in-Chief

Published in print Sept.3, 2014

With the killing of Mike Brown bringing back discussions about racial discrimination, I decided to revisit another case of racism in this country, one I wrote about as Sports Editor almost a year ago.

Last fall I wrote about the Washington Redskins, and how their name should be changed. Almost a year later, progress has been made. But is this enough?

This past June, the football team in Washington lost its trademark for the name “Redskins”. While this small act does not force that Washington team to change their name, it let them know that the government does not tolerate the use of “Redskins”.

In the last month, football analysts Tony Dungy and Phil Simms have publically stated that they will not use the Washington team’s name on television. In addition, some NFL Referees have let the league know they do not want to officiate Washington games this season.

Ericka Faircloth, the president of UNCG’s Native American Student Association, believes these actions have created a domino effect, and made people reflect on the issue. “It’s caused people to think about their actions,” Faircloth said. “To get involved and understand.”

Despite public protest of the Washington team name, owner Daniel Snyder still has no desire to change the name of the team. All Snyder is focused on is building the team a new stadium.

One of the reasons Snyder has little economic incentive to change the name is because NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Washington fans have not expressed enough support for a change. As long as the team’s fans continue to buy tickets and merchandise it seems like Snyder is under less pressure to change the name.

Instead of listening to the public,  it seems like Synder has ramped up efforts to promote the team’s name as a sense of pride. However, all it shows is his ignorance to how the team’s name affects Native Americans.

Ericka Faircloth believes the “Redskins” logo creates the idea that Native Americans do not exist. “If you paint us like cartoon characters, you say we don’t exist like Mickey Mouse,” Faircloth said.

Daniel Snyder and anyone else who wants Washington to keep the “Redskins” name may not think someone who is Native American is invisible, but they clearly feel their opinion is. When a group of people tell you that you are offending them, the response should be immediate. The fact that it has taken this long to change the name is disgraceful. Hopefully this time next year, this will not be a topic that needs to be revisited, but rather a celebration of a new and non-offensive name in Washington.

Ericka Faircloth had this to say to Daniel Snyder and others who support the team’s name. “We are not saying you are bad people, but things have changed,” Faircloth said. “You wouldn’t want to be generalized, and have a logo on a t-shirt.”

Categories: joseph abraham

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