The “Redskins” Controversy Strikes Again

St. Scholastica's Student Newspaper
The Cable
By: Andre Smith-Hill  - Student Journalist -
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As if the Washington Redskins didn't have enough problems to deal with this off-season, their unsavory team name is coming back to haunt them yet again.

The name, "The Redskins" is clearly a derogatory term towards Native Americans (referring to the perceived color of their skin) yet even though they are under much societal pressure to change their name, Washington's owner Dan Snyder has refused to even give thought to a name change.

The football team has faced protests at every stadium they have traveled to this year by concerned citizens who will no longer stand by as a team makes money off of a racial slur. But this time, it is the lawmakers of our country who have had enough. Senator of the state of Washington, Maria Cantwell and a representative of Oklahoma, Tom Cole both worked on a letter, which was sent to NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell.

Much was said in the email but the statement that best describes the letter stated: "It is, in fact, an insult to Native Americans," referring to the team's name. Now it goes without saying that not every single Native American has strong feelings of resentment towards the Washington Redskins. That being said, a sizable group of not just Native Americans, but all other citizens of the U.S., have expressed strong emotions against the team.

The Redskins organizations response to the letter was very strongly worded and made it clear that they have no intention of listening to what people are saying. It read:

"Surely, with all the issues Congress is supposed to work on such as the economy, jobs, war, health care, the Senator must have more important things to do...Senator Cantwell should be aware that there are many challenges facing Native Americans, including an extremely cold winter with high energy bills, high unemployment, inadequate education and many other issues more pressing than the name of a football team which has received strong support from Native Americans."

Clearly, the organization does not want to draw more attention to their use of a derogatory name and will do what they can to divert headlines away from themselves. Obviously the lawmakers of our country care about all of the problems we as Americans face, and racism is part of the long list of problems.

The biggest problem with the teams name is that those who are for the name say that it is just that; just a name. It doesn't harm anybody; it doesn't mean anything, right? Well it does seem just a little odd that no other team in the country, anywhere, uses a race of people as a team name and mascot.

What would the team names be who were based off African Americans or Asian Americans? With how much pressure is being put on the Washington Redskins organization, it looks like it is just a matter of time before they catch on to the idea that identifying a group of people by a derogatory term or racial slur is unacceptable.