The Washington Redskins were established in 1932 as the Boston Braves, and in some way, shape, or form their logo has been a likeness, or image, associated with the people their fight name represents.  What’s in a name?  Is it because Chiefs, Braves, Seminoles and those similar are less offensive, while the term “redskin” was used as a slur in reference to the Native American?  Things change, and so does language.  What’s that wagon or van police officers can pile groups of detainees into?  What about when you fix something, or rig it, using unconventional methods.  What is it called when one appears to be shortchanged by another?  Language evolves!  

It’s not about the acceptance of the word, which some predominantly Native American schools have done, it’s about what the word represents… and how we’ve evolved as a society since its proliferation.  Many have suggestions on how, or what, the name should be changed to, including ideas that they represent red-skinned potatoes or fight names which take their location into consideration (Commanders, Federals), even their football history (Hogs, etc).

The voices of those that want the name of the National Football League franchise that calls our nation’s capital home to be changed is growing louder, loud enough for those who were formerly uninterested to take notice.  The fact that the word is considered a slur and that some find it offensive should make it a relatively easy decision, but longtime fan and current team owner Daniel Snyder has said he’ll have none of it.

The federal government dealt Mr. Snyder and his team a blow when the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled six trademarks previously honored, calling them “disparaging” to Native Americans.  Some have petitioned the Federal Communications Commission in an effort to prohibit broadcasts from using the term “redskin” as they prohibit other words or phrases which are deemed racially insensitive.

There are many comparisons, but the obvious comparison is to the N word.  What would people say to a team named the N****s?  Spell it however you want!  Even if that team hailed from a predominantly African American city and their fans were fine with it, it would still offend others.  There was a time when an African American’s likeness would be sitting were the Native American’s head is in the Washington logo, with the team playing under a name deemed disparaging to blacks.   Just because some have accepted the use of a term or slur doesn’t mean all have.  No matter how widely embraced the word has become among youngsters, to how many times I’m forced to hear my favorite artists use it, I haven’t built up an immunity to the numbness I feel when I hear it.  

There is no denying that Washington’s team name was, and is, a slur.  Even though some Native Americans have used it as a fight name, and have somewhat embraced it, there is a large population that feels differently.  If asked directly if I’m in favor of changing the name, I’ll pause, but confidently answer in the affirmative.  Why not rebrand and collect from the thousands of fans clamoring for the new gear.  Let your young, charismatic (high-dollar) QB lead your newly-branded franchise into the next era of Washington D.C. football!

Mr. Snyder says he’s a fan, he also fancies himself an intellectual businessman: then let him prove he can make the obvious decision here and not let stubbornness or pride inhibit him from an opportunity to change things… and earn a buck or two while doing so. 


-Joseph Haas,


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