Yesterday the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, part of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, representing a division of the federal government, ruled that the Washington Redskins name was disparaging and the team was stripped of federal protections for six of its trademarks. The appeal of this ruling may be stuck in the courts for years, but a major battle against the “Redskins” name has been won.
This decision by the government is a shot over the bow of Daniel Snyder, owner of the Redskins, who has vowed to never change the racial epithet arguing that it is a sign of honor and bravery, not a slur. But Native American groups are pressuring NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to do something about the football team’s name. And to add more heat, in October, President Obama said he would change the name if he were the owner of the team with Sen. Harry Reid and 49 other Democratic senators urging Goodell to enact a name-change.
Now in the interest of full-disclosure, my maternal great-grandmother was a large, Cherokee woman and I take my heritage very seriously despite being almost all-white. Yet I feel offended for the people who are truly, full-blooded American Indians, not for myself. This slur is unacceptable and should be changed immediately under the orders of Goodell for that’s the only way Snyder will do it.
Now I’ve been hearing a lot of people saying that the Native Americans should “just get over it.” But what if they were the Washington “Blackies”? Would the world not end if the self-proclaimed “squeaky wheel” African-American population were offended like this? And would not many, if not the majority, of whites support them?
The problem here is that the Native American population is too small to affect change the way the African-American community can. There are not enough American Indians to create an audible”squeaky wheel” because the genocide of our native peoples has been so thorough. That’s why whites, blacks, Latin peoples, and every other racial segment of the U.S. population needs to stand up and fight for what’s right and force a name change of the “Redskins.”