Redskins… Respectful or Racist?
Stereotypes have become common in today’s world. People make assumptions based on their physical appearance which then causes people to think less of themselves and other. When most people think of First Nations, the thought of feathers and war paint come to mind. Although these things have been a part of the culture’s identity, hundreds of years have gone by and most Natives do not look like that anymore. Many Native Americans do not fit the stereotypes of what Indigenous people are “supposed to look like”. Therefore, Redskin is the racial slur that indicates all indigenous people have red skin. The term Redskin is not just a racial slur, it goes back farther than that. Murder. The blood-soaked scalps of Aboriginals. Soldiers slaughtered for salary. And the reskinned scalps were considered trophies to the war (Holmes, 2014). A recent poll in 2016 showed that “nine out of 10 Native Americans said they took no offence in the name of Washington Redskins” (Barry). However, many Native Americans including journalist Debra Krol said they find the term “offensive and demeaning” (Barry,2016). The Washington Redskins football team needs to change their name to support the rights First Nations have to the use of the racial slur. Originally the teams name was the Braves but was changed in 1933. The football team explained the reason they changed their name to Redskins to honor the coach who claimed to be Sioux. However, it is said that the head coach was an imposter to the Native culture and the name was actually changed because the Football team did not want to have the same name as the Boston Braves professional basketball team (Shapira, 2016). The act of not changing the name has a great effect on aboriginals who find the term to have a negative impact on their culture. Many First Nation people say they have more important things to worry about, but people are capable of thinking about multiple things at once and one should not feel uncomfortable by a footballs racist team name. In the words of an article written by Dan Barry, “These terms make it easier for people to think of us as Indians as Not really Americans” (2016). It is clear millions of Indigenous people find the racial slur “Redskins” offensive; therefore, the Washington football team needs to change their name to give the respect all Native Americans deserve.
Barry, Dan. “A Heated Linguistic Debate: What Makes ‘Redskins’ a Slur?” The New York Times, 21 May 2016, www.nytimes.com/2016/05/22/sports/football/redskins-poll-prompts-a-linguistic-debate.html.
Holmes, Baxter. “A ‘Redskin’ Is the Scalped Head of a Native American, Sold, Like a Pelt, for Cash.” Esquire, 17 June 2014, www.esquire.com/news-politics/news/a29445/true-redskins-meaning/.
Shapira, Ian. “A Brief History of the Word ‘Redskin’ and How It Became a Source of Controversy.” The Washington Post, 19 May 2016, www.washingtonpost.com/local/a-brief-history-of-the-word-redskin-and-how-it-became-a-source-of-controversy/2016/05/19/062cd618-187f-11e6-9e16-2e5a123aac62_story.html?utm_term=.7f283fd2071d.