It’s finally happening! The Washington Redskins national football team has decided to change their name by eliminating the term “redskins”. This is a moment for which the Indigenous American community has been striving for years. It comes at a time of national soul-searching for the United States – a period nearly a quarter of the way into the 21st century where we are at long last coming to terms with a lifetime of racial injustice and inequality.
The alteration didn’t come from a moment of sudden spiritual enlightenment from team owner Dan Snyder who had said many years ago that a name change was out of the question; adding: “NEVER – you can use caps.”
Never say never, Danny boy!
Snyder bowed to social and economic pressures. Several major corporations that have sponsored a variety of professional sports teams in the U.S. for years had vowed to pull their support if Washington didn’t change its name. When you grab someone by the financial gonads, they’ll follow you with hearts and minds.
But society is also changing. Despite the old guard claims that it’s “just a game”, American consciousness has seen that proverbial light in the darkness and gone towards it. NASCAR, for example, recently banned Confederate flags from its events; a move that has upset many White southerners. Again, the old guard is losing its grip on cultural relevance.
The word “redskin” is equivalent to slurs like nigger, gook, spic, fag, or politician. It’s seriously debasing and relegates the Western Hemisphere’s native peoples to a skin tone (which many don’t actually have) as well as to a sub-human category. In all fairness, some people of Native American ancestry don’t care either way. They don’t view the term as derogatory or racist. It’s just a word. Of course, it is! So is genocide.
Washington is now at a moniker crossroads. Obviously, they’ll keep the name Washington. But what to add to it? Some have suggested “Warriors” or “Red Tails”; the latter a reference to the legendary Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African-American United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) servicemen during World War II who went disregarded and underappreciated for decades.
I recommend the term “Monuments”. It’s a direct recognition of the Washington Monument, but it’s also a reference to the structure’s form and size. You know – a large, tall, long, hard, phallic-shaped emblem. Since football is such a macho sport, I feel it’s appropriate.
Regardless of whatever name Washington adopts, the time is way past due. And there’s simply no turning back. Time doesn’t stop and it doesn’t retract. It always moves forward. So should we all.