Now that the Redskins are winning again, there's been a lot of talk about bringing the team back to D.C.--instead of leaving them in nearby FedEx Field, located in Maryland.
But Mayor Gray has some conditions before the Redskins move a muscle--claiming, “I think that if they get serious with the team coming back to Washington, there’s no doubt there’s going to have to be a discussion about [changing the team name]."
Gray added, “I think it has become a lightning rod, and I would love to be able to sit down with the team … and see if a change should be made. There’s a precedent for this, and I think there needs to be a dispassionate discussion about this, and do the right thing.”
Courtland Milloy's provocative column is front-loaded with racial innuendo, beginning: "So, Washington football fans, how’s that offensive team name and demeaning sports mascot working out? Whooping and hollering as [quarterback Robert Griffin III] goes on a “Redskins” warpath only to leave a trail of tears when his wounded knee gets buried at FedEx Field."
Milloy traces the "bad karma"--he wisely avoids using the word "curse"--to 1992, when Suzan Shown Harjo led a lawsuit (Harjo et al., v Pro Football, Inc.) that sought to change the name.
Pulling no punches, Milloy, who is African American, asks, "Does anyone really believe that the name 'Redskins' will survive the 21st century? Other than the people who probably thought white actors in blackface would survive the 20th? The genocide of Native peoples, like America’s other original sin, slavery, cannot be forever masked with caricatures of the dead."
Milloy points out the intentional irony in the NMAI's upcoming "Racist Stereotypes and Cultural Appropriation in American Sports" event on February 7.
Comment: It's good that the NMAI is tackling this subject in Washington DC. It seems like there's a groundswell of public discussion about the Redskins. Along with similar talk about the Atlanta Braves' retro batting cap. Perhaps these discussions can grow into a movement for changing the remaining mascots.
I wonder if this groundswell is tied into all the recent controversies: No Doubt, Victoria's Secret, Johnny Depp, Elizabeth Warren, Idle No More, etc. Perhaps these incidents are raising the collective consciousness that 1) Indians still exist and 2) they don't like to be stereotyped.
True, there's no clear connection between these controversies, but I claim they're connected. The connection is this: 1) Mainstream society claims Indian issues, along with Indians themselves, are trivial and don't matter. 2) Indians speak up, demand to be taken seriously, and mainstream society gets the message. Even if many people don't want to hear it.
For more on the Redskins, see Annenberg's "Redskins" Survey and Kickstarter Campaign to Change Redskins Name.