“Hail to the Redskins, Hail Victory, Braves on the Warpath, Fight for old D.C.!
-Barnee Breeskin, “Hail to the Redskins”
I am a Washington Redskins’ fan. I am White. I find it incredibly unnecessary to specify my ethnicity, but in a society where it’s almost a requirement to be race-sensitive in order to be heard then I figured I might as well. The recent poll proving that 90% of Native-Americans are not offended by Washington’s nickname was eye-opening (once again). However, what I believe to be more eye-opening is the fact that the media continues to make this a prominent issue when, like me, not one of the more vocal personalities seems to be Native-American. I will throw this out while I’m on that topic: why aren’t there any Native-American analysts on-air? I feel we’ve come to a point in society where that is a serious question, if not, then that’s another topic to be discussed. Annoying, isn’t it?
The main issue I have with this, amongst others, is that it seems people are telling Native-Americans how to think. They’re saying they should be offended by this racial slur. In essence, and contradictory to what most of these media members preach, they’re actually offending Native-Americans in that regard. Stop telling them what to think; especially considering 90% of them just said how they thought! I live in New Mexico, a state where the Native-American population is one of the highest in the nation, and I’ve never once heard the word “Redskin” spoken with racist intention; I’ve never heard it muttered unless it involved how the franchise performed over the weekend, or what their upcoming season will be like, or being sullied by the mouths of rival supporters (there are a lot of Cowboys’ fans in this region as well).
“Redskin” was a racial slur, there is no denying the fact, but is it now? Well, let me rephrase before people get in a huff, is it even used now? I will reiterate that New Mexico has the 4th largest Native-American population in America and I’ve never heard the word used as a slur. Of course, I am not everywhere at all times and cannot vouch for others, but I do know that their beautiful culture is respected and preserved here, my best friend in high school was Native-American, I have other acquaintances who are also tribe members, and most importantly I have been on Reservations and Pueblos, not the section where casinos and resorts rest, but the actual places people live, and I will say that the condition of part of their territory is the real issue. Their poverty, their health problems, their employment, their education is what should be of concern, not an ethnic insult that is frowned upon by people not even of the race, not even troubled with something that has now been proven to be of little concern to the people it’s directed towards. The media should be ashamed; if they truly cared about Native-Americans and aren’t trying to hide their personal agendas or gloat how great they are for caring about all cultures, then maybe they should take a look at issues that are truly affecting other races, not what will get them ratings because they are attempting to appease the trendy issues.
One more thing before I wrap this up, many Native-Americans in New Mexico cheer for the Washington Redskins. Do people ever consider that? [We’re] going to tell them how to think, and then [we’re] going to take away the football team they follow, forcing what is a relatively poor community into purchasing new merchandise because the name is more suitable for [us]. Gee, sounds like we really know what’s best for everyone. There are bigger things going on than what the media tells us is important.
I understand people have dealt with horrible things in the past, injustices that should have never happened, and some still do in select situations. I understand we drive, as we should, for everyone to be equal (at least I believe that to be the intention), as we should be. To take away one of the few arguments directed at this post: I am not a racist. I have Native-American friends, African-American friends, Hispanic friends, gay friends, lesbian friends, liberal friends, conservative friends, my stepmother and her sons are Jewish, and my wife is half-Indonesian and Muslim. I’m not saying that to boost my cultural status, all I’m saying is that I’m just a normal person who supports a normal football team that has been around longer than the last time “Redskin” was meant to negatively target someone (outside of fan frustration of course)*. Please feel free to shift my words around to make it seem that this was in poor taste instead of a plea to change the tone of the discussion. Whatever is easiest.
*Opinion of writer; based on 33 years of life experience and local knowledge of culture. I am not one to speak for the Native-American people, however. Here are a couple of sites if interested in learning about Native-American culture in New Mexico.