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Why the Washington Redskins Need to Change Their Name

Updated on May 9, 2014

Washington Redskins

We wouldn’t stand for this if it was done with any other ethnic or racial group, and we shouldn’t stand for it in this case. I’m of course talking about the franchise name for the NFL team, the Washington Redskins.

There are a handful of major league sports teams that either elude or specifically refer to Native Americans. In baseball there are the Cleveland Indians, and the Atlanta Braves; in hockey there are the Chicago Blackhawks; and in football there are the Kansas City Chiefs and the Washington Redskins. This list doesn’t include any of the non-major American sports, or the countless college and high school teams around the country. Now, the question is, which of these names are socially acceptable, and which need to change? I’ll make it easy: they all need to go.

Now, granted, some are worse than others. For example, the Atlanta Braves could actually keep their name if they simply changed their team logo. Brave is an adjective that isn’t inherently Native American, but one look at the tomahawk logo leaves no doubt. Others are borderline, like the Kansas City Chiefs and Chicago Blackhawks. “Chief” isn’t inherently Native American. Sure, it’s connotations are Native American, but again, if the logo is simply changed from an arrowhead to something else, then it would be much more socially acceptable. As for the Blackhawks, there was an actual Native American named Blackhawk, so at least it’s referencing something. Then, there are some that are over the line in my opinion. The Cleveland Indians need to change. Indian is not only the improper term for a Native American, but their logo is a person with distinctly red skin. It’s an offensive caricature of a Native American, not even an attempt a real person.

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Society of the Machine

Society of the Machine: Leon
Society of the Machine: Leon

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The Legendary Bob Costas

Thank the universe that we have Bob Costas. Bob Costas is a brave soul that isn't afraid to tell it like it is. After Jovan Belcher killed himself and his girlfriend, Bob Costas called out the gun culture in the NFL and advocated for common sense gun regulation. People who thought they knew what the second amendment was, but who had never actually read it, criticized him, but he rightly didn't back down. It was during this last NFL season that Costas criticized the Washington Redskins name. Many of the same people who criticized him before once again called for his firing (strange, almost like people who hide behind their guns are actually racist).

I'm being unequivocal here: anyone who doesn't think the Redskins need to change their name is racist. Please, give me one good reason not to change the name. Look, I can understand if you're apathetic, and just don't care (you should care, but I know there's plenty of other issues that you could be considered with). But what I can't accept are the people who actively oppose a name change. There's is absolutely no reason to keep the name, and approximately 37 reasons to change it. And if takes people like Bob Costas to call out the racists in the room, then so be it.

Story Continued

I’ve saved the worst for last, however, that being the Washington Redskins. The name Redskin is euro-centric and offensive, and the logo, which is the head of a Native American, certainly doesn’t help. This is where the argument is clearest, because imagine this same team name applied to a different group. Would you go out to see the New York Jews play a game of Basketball? How about the Detroit Negroes (or worse) playing a game of hockey? What about the Dallas Wetbacks playing a game of baseball? I don’t mean to offend, with these terms, only make a point. I don’t think you’d see any of those teams play, yet the Redskins is somehow okay? Well, it’s not.

But, you say, what about the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, a college football team? Isn’t that the same thing? Yes, it is, and yes, they must go as well. In my opinion, it’s no different than the Native American names, so I’m lumping them together. Whether or not Irish people actually find Notre Dame’s team name offensive is irrelevant; I’m applying a consistent principle. So then what about the Boston Celtics, an NBA team? They must also go, or at least change their logo, which features a leprechaun. You could then make the argument that a team like the Ottawa Senators, whose logo is an old Roman-style gladiator, would also have to go, but I say they can stay, since there aren’t actual any Roman gladiators left to be offended.

End of Argument: The Unbeatable Point

Story Continued

The debate isn’t so much one of why change the name as it is, why not change the name. If the name is offensive to even one person, which we know at least the Redskins is, then why keep it? Are you really willing to allow something as insignificant as sports serve as a beacon of hate just because you don’t really like change and it’d be easier if you could just keep calling the team the same name you always have? If you can’t have some sympathy for the people these teams offend, at least have some empathy. Just because you grew up with something, or there are other things like it doesn’t make it right. Changing these team names to more socially acceptable ones hurts no one, and could potentially help many. The team will still exist, and it’s fans will still exist, but at least no one will be offended unnecessarily. I don’t want to be the PC police, but in a case like this, where no one loses, I don’t see any need to oppose the change.

Question

Should the Washington Redskins Change their Name?

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Leon, Book II: Coming Soon

Be on the lookout for the upcoming sequel to Society of the Machine
Be on the lookout for the upcoming sequel to Society of the Machine

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If you are looking for a writer, please contact me via my social media, or through hubpages. I have experience in many different areas with strengths in journalism and creative writing.

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For more of my writing, keep posted to this hubpage, or check out my work for The Griffin at http://www.canisiusgriffin.com/

Bio

I am a writer. I have substantial experience in journalism, and my passion is for creative writing. When it comes to writing, I've dabbled in everything.

I am a reader, a hockey player, a part-time musician, and an English major at Canisius College.

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    • Larry Nocella profile image

      Larry Nocella 2 years ago

      Good, thoughtful article. I guess the "skin" in the name makes the biggest difference. I saw a guy wearing a "Caucausians" baseball-like shirt to mock this issue and it made all the difference to me (Being as my background is European.) I was dissapointed the Redskins didn't change their name the Redhawks or Redtail Hawks or something - the colors could stay the same, even the feather of the logo. Ah well.

    • profile image

      BrianCFrancis 3 years ago

      http://briancfrancis.hubpages.com/hub/A-Usually-Of...

      I did a similar story last week with a lot more of the history behind the term Redskin and the injustice of the last 500 years to the indigenous people of this land.

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