May 09, 2014

Waxman calls for Redskins hearing

Rep. Henry Waxman wants hearing on 'derogatory' name of D.C.'s NFL team

By Willliam DouglasRep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., is pressing the House Energy and Commerce Committee for a hearing on use of the term 'Redskins' for Washington's National Football League team.

Waxman, the committee's top Democrat, sent a letter to committee chair Fred Upton, R-Mich., stating that the 'Offensive remarks by Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers of the National Basketball Association, have raised public awareness of racism in sports.'

'I am writing to ask you to hold a hearing to examine another instance of racial insensitivity in professional sports: the use of the derogatory term 'Redskins' as the name of the Washington football team.'
And:In his letter to Upton, Waxman equated the word 'Redskins' to the N-word that African-Americans find offensive. He suggests that if Snyder the NFL don't move to change the name, Congress could take steps to pressure a change.

'The NFL gets substantial tax benefits as a 'nonprofit' corporation, and its teams often receive billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded stadium subsidies,' Waxman wrote. 'As the committee with primary jurisdiction over professional sports, we could play a constructive role in challenging racism by asking Mr. Snyder and (NFL Commissioner Roger) Goodell to explain in a public hearing how their actions are consistent with the public interest.'
Waxman calls for hearing on 'derogatory' Redskins name

By Blake NeffWaxman, the Democrats’ ranking member on the committee, called for the hearing in a letter to the panel chairman Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.). [READ THE LETTER HERE.]

Waxman described the team’s name as “derogatory” and compared it to recent controversial remarks made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

The difference, Waxman said, is that while Sterling has been banned for life by the NBA, Redskins owner Dan Snyder has been defended by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

“In the case of the Washington football team, the offensive conduct is public, not private. But it is being condoned and defended by National Football League,” he said.

The Redskins' name is condemned by some Native American groups as racist and offensive.

The Commerce Committee oversees professional sports, and Waxman’s letter cites the numerous tax benefits received by the NFL and its teams to justify the committee’s involvement on the matter.

Meanwhile, another government official joined President Obama, Senator Harry Reid, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, and others in speaking out:

Arne Duncan Weighs In on Donald Sterling, Washington Redskins' Name

By Bryan ToporekDuring an event this morning to discuss high school graduation rates, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan couldn't help but weigh in on one of the biggest controversies to come across the sports world in years.

Duncan called the outrage about Sterling's recent remarks "a teachable moment," according to POLITICO. "How do you combat racism?" he asked. "Exposure. Honest conversation."

The secretary then segued—unprompted, per the Post—into a discussion about the controversy surrounding the name of the local professional football franchise.

"Here in Washington we have the Washington Redskins—is that name appropriate for a professional football team?" Duncan asked. "I don't think it is. We should challenge the status quo right here in Washington."
And pundits continue to speak out:

Now it's Redskins owner's turn

By Clarence PageLike the Cleveland Indians or Atlanta Braves, Indian-related team names hark back to earlier cultural times in America.

But that doesn’t excuse the continued use of Redskins, an indisputably vulgar racial slur. It only shows how some people win respect in the world of pro sports more easily than others do.

That’s the question at heart in the new name dispute. Who gets respect?

If the NFL was two-thirds Native American instead of two-thirds black, we wouldn’t be having the same conversation. It is a sad, cynical reality of today’s racial etiquette that respect goes to those who have not just sympathies but numbers, money, votes or some other leverage with which to wield real power.
What the NFL Doesn't Want You to Think About

By Jim WallisI decided to go to the Washington team's website. I searched under "changing the team's name," and several hundred official pieces came up--none of them about the controversial issue, except one announcing a new foundation owner Dan Snyder just created to "serve needs" in tribal communities. Of course, that only fueled the controversy about the team's name. Most were about this week's NFL draft.

But then I found something else on the website--a video of Dan and Tanya Snyder being honored for their work on behalf of a group called the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. I watched Snyder's speech, in which he said something I hadn't heard before: the first of their three daughters was a "2-pound miracle baby." Snyder said, "After that, we decided to dedicate our lives to children." Perhaps this could be the best way for Dan Snyder to understand the deep problems with the name of his team--the effect of the racial slur on Native American children, and other children too.

I recalled what Peggy Flanagan recently said in Sojourners magazine on the topic of our football team's name. Peggy is a Sojourners board member and, because she is like a daughter in our family's household, I have seen how becoming a mother has shaped her perspective on everything. Peggy said:As a Native American woman and mother, I am concerned about how my infant daughter will see herself represented and portrayed in popular culture and the media as she grows up. Multiple studies have shown that American Indian sports mascots and other negative stereotypes are detrimental to the self-esteem and development of Native American youth and exacerbate racial inequities. The continued use of the Washington Redsk*ns mascot sends my daughter, and other Native and non-Native youth, the message that somehow it's okay for her to be called a racial slur. In her formative years, she will continually see herself portrayed as less than human....When you deny people their humanity, it is easier to disrespect them and their culture.

I am not a mascot. My daughter is not a mascot. My people are not mascots. We are human beings. We are still here.

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