Recently the owner of the Washington Redskins (Daniel Snyder) commented that he’d never change the name of the team, despite the fact that people have long complained that it’s a racial slur. In a twist that’s made me happy, a lot of media outlets and journalists have objected to calling them the Redskins and simply refer to them as Washington.
On Sunday, Bob Costas spelled it out (and yes, I do recommend that people watch this).
I’ve seen some interesting responses. From people who say it’s about time, to those who don’t understand what the problem is- saying that this is political correctness at its worst.
Controversy regarding sports teams being named after Native Americans is nothing new. There have been objections for decades- even as a kid I was well aware that people objected to the Atlanta Braves- and their Tomahawk Chop.
This isn’t a case of political correctness. It’s recognizing that mistakes were made in the past- that not all decisions/traditions are a good thing. That historically, we’ve ignored the voice of the Native American people- uprooting and relocating, stripping them of say by claiming we’re giving them “autonomy.” All while sports teams make millions off of stereotypes.
We criticize celebrities who pull their eyes to look Asian. When people put on blackface we dub it offensive. How is this any different? It isn’t.
There’s no shame in rebranding. There is shame in digging in your heels in the name of tradition, ignoring slurs and insults because “it’s just the way it is.”
Social change comes from acknowledging that mistakes were made and changing it. Shrugging your shoulders and excusing those mistakes as being “the way it always is” is wrong. We change, we learn, we grow.
Looking back on the past, we don’t shy away from laughing at stupid notions like leeches being a cure of maladies. We can recognize the ludicrousness of throwing people in water to determine whether or not they’re witches. We should be able to look back and say, “Holy crap, that was a terrible thing to name a football team. We might not have a time machine, but at least we can change the name now.”