Why do people still defend the Redskins name?
Author: bram lerat – contributor
Let’s look at the relationship between Aboriginal people and sports teams. We have the Chicago Blackhawks, Cleveland Indians, Edmonton Eskimos, Fighting Sioux, Kansas City Chiefs and rounding out with the Washington Redskins. There are plenty more teams and mascots that portray Aboriginal people in a certain “warrior” way, but in an increasingly cultural sensitive society, are these team names acceptable? Everyone has heard the debate claiming that they are meant to praise Aboriginal people or show their fearlessness, but are these just excuses? The Washington Redskins have been under harsh and much-needed criticism for their name and its racist meaning for the last couple of years. Are they the only team that should change their name or is there a need for a complete sweep of these names and mascots?
These team names were created during a time that wasn’t as culturally sensitive and in a time where racism was more acceptable. With that in mind, it’s understandable that these debates are now taking place. People are realizing that you can’t run around in a headdress without being insensitive, or that you can’t throw a Cowboys and Indians theme party around school. If these things can be questioned than why can’t a sports name be? Are the Redskins so entrenched in tradition that they cannot change a racist team name for Native Americans? What if it was a different race? I’m sure we can all think of a few outdated racist terms that are the epitome of offside in our society. I’ve heard way too many people claim that Aboriginal people are being too sensitive when, in reality, this lobbying and human rights issue is completely understandable considering the era we now live in.
How about the other teams? Being a Cree sports fan has made me ponder the subject for the last little while. Would a school, local sports team or any new organization name a team in this modern day based on Aboriginal people or leaders? Probably not. What I find interesting is that it’s almost like who’s the least offensive between the Eskimos, Chiefs and Redskins. Much of the attention is put on to the Redskins because of their blatant racism; however, the Chiefs and Eskimos are still not exactly culturally sound. Why can’t everyone be a little more progressive instead of thinking, “Well that team hasn’t changed and they are worse than me”? One of these teams should take a stand and lead the others in a modern direction.
There is no easy decision on this topic because taking down all of these team names isn’t exactly a realistic outcome. The Chicago Blackhawks have a team name based supposedly on a World War I hero, which could make a case for acceptable to some people. While the severity of some team names have yet to be decided or looked at, it’s clear the sports world is in need for a few changes. The Washington Redskins are the cornerstone to this and with the amount of world attention it has received, I am confidant more changes are to come in the future.
Sincerely, your Cree sports contributor.