The term Redskin, comes from two main sources. The first was the depiction of the hue of natives’ skin. The second references the cruel torture of skinning Native Americans for a bounty. Since their skin would turn red from the blood, they started calling them “red skins.” Redskin was designed to talk about natives in a derogatory way reducing them less than human. The continued misuse of the term continues to misrepresent Native Americans and lead to stereotyping.
The Washington Redskins is a Professional Football team in the National Football League and it is using a racial slur as the name of a national football team. The team’s Owner Dan Snyder (no relation), has been very vocal about the name and keeping it. He insists that the name was meant to honor Native Americans and he was given permission from one of his Native American friends. The Team has been embroiled in lawsuits since 1993 one verdict even caused the team to lose their trademark status for a period of time. As the battle rages on a cultural movement has presented itself and Native American people are mounting a grass roots effort to “change the name.” The petitions have been signed by thousands, however, they have fallen on deaf ears. Dan Snyder would rather not listen and wants to continue making a profit off of a racial slur.
Besides the morality of using a racial slur the continued use of the name raises another concern as the offensive nature creates a hostile environment that perpetuates stereotypes. Native Americans make up less than 5% of the total U.S. Population. This small minority is still being stereotyped as they were in the early 1900’s as savages and uncivilized people. Native Americans had the land they lived on stolen by the U.S. Government and were forcibly removed from their homelands to make way for westward expansion. With all this displacement and diseases, Native Americans were nearly wiped out of existence. They were not gone, they persevered, they adapted, and they are growing in numbers each year. And they are standing up against racial slurs and stereotypes like the Redskins perpetuate.
The question that we must ask ourselves is will we continue to let a team use a racial slur that is derogatory? This isn’t about “PC” culture this is truly about common decency. As a society we deem things are appropriate or inappropriate. Right now society is telling Native Americans that they don’t matter. We are telling all Native Americans they are insignificant. Why are we as a society allowing this to continue? Can the team not be renamed to Warriors instead? Wouldn’t Dan Snyder profit more from changing the name rather than keeping it? He stands to make millions from re-branding and renaming the team. All the true fans will stay with the team and buy new gear, so why can’t we make this happen? I really hope that someone can make Dan Snyder see that this is more than just a word to Native Americans and changing the name is not only the moral and ethical thing to do it is the smart thing to do.