Slog Music

Music, Nightlife,
and Drinks

Thursday, January 10, 2013

DC Mayor Wants to Rethink the Name "Redskins"

Posted by on Thu, Jan 10, 2013 at 12:05 PM

The Washington Redskins are trying to move back into the District of Columbia from their muddy excuse for a field in Landover, MD. But before spending the countless millions on bringing the team back (and, I assume, building a new stadium), mayor Vincent Gray wants to hold a discussion on changing the name. I'm with mayor Gray on this one. Our nation's capital shouldn't host a football team whose mascot is a racist slur against a population we attempted to systematically exterminate.

Sure, there are other face-palmingly bad names in the NFL. The Cleveland Browns, for instance, is meant to refer to the Brown Bombers, itself a reference to African American boxer Joe Louis. The Oakland Raiders were originally called the Oakland SeÑors. The Packers, though not specifically racist, is derived from Curly Lambeau's kinda very awful company name—the "Indian Packing Company" which I can only imagine treated its employees with decency and respect.

But the Kansas City Chiefs* and the Redskins are the only teams remaining that so clearly flout their abhorrent misappropriation of Native American culture.

Disturbingly 79% of people in an online LA Times poll do not find the name "Redskins" offensive.

Am I going crazy? Tell me what you think of the team nickname/mascot debate in an official, legally binding, and statistically unskewed Slog poll.

*The Kansas City Chiefs name was selected to honor an old mayor, who founded the Native American inspired honor society called the Mic-O-Say Tribe, which I'm pretty sure is a mouthful of made up words.


Comments (43) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
yes, change it to something less offensive. Like the Washington Lobbyists. Or the Washington Plutocracy. Or the Washington Bought Off Legislators. Go BOLs!! Go BOLs!!

Then get rid of Dan Snyder as the owner. No bigger douchebag in the NFL. Seriously.
Posted by screed on January 10, 2013 at 12:15 PM · Report this
jnmend 2
Uh, fucking finally?
Posted by jnmend on January 10, 2013 at 12:16 PM · Report this
Cleveland Browns are named after Paul Brown, their first coach.…

And Curly Lambeau didn't own that company, he was just a clerk.…

Posted by giffy on January 10, 2013 at 12:18 PM · Report this
Julie in Eugene 4
Can I vote for Obama making a presidential decree against white girls wearing bindis? Because that shit needs to stop.
Posted by Julie in Eugene on January 10, 2013 at 12:23 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 5
I'm fine with white girls wearing bindis.

Hindi is a language. Hindu is a religion.

That said, why not rename them High Fiving White Guys?

Cause their seats are filled with those, even if the playing field isn't.
Posted by Will in Seattle on January 10, 2013 at 12:29 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 7
@4 can we just compromise and have him decree no white girls wearing bindis on the Platinum Trillion Dollar Coin?
Posted by Will in Seattle on January 10, 2013 at 12:34 PM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 8
They should definitely change their name to the Washington G-Strings. OK, not a great name for a team, but watching the cheerleaders would make up for it.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on January 10, 2013 at 12:36 PM · Report this
Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 9
There's a big difference between 'Redskins' and 'Chiefs.'

That being said, there's a group of very dedicated Washington football fans called 'the Hogs.' They dress is this weird pig-faced drag like some post-apocalyptic mardi gras mutant-girls.

The Washington Hogs.

Let's hear it!
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on January 10, 2013 at 12:44 PM · Report this
Posted by michaelp on January 10, 2013 at 12:49 PM · Report this
Gern Blanston 12
Hold on, the Redskins want to move out of that stadium? It's only 15 years old, and aside from the turf, is pretty much state of the art. I would be shocked if that was true. Do you have a cite for that assertion?
Posted by Gern Blanston on January 10, 2013 at 12:59 PM · Report this
Paul Pearson 14
The history of the Cleveland Browns' name is a little muddled, but most accounts point towards them being named after Paul Brown. When Cleveland got the team, the Plain-Dealer held a contest to name them. Paul Brown, who coached Ohio State, was exceptionally popular in the region, so most votes went to "The Browns." Brown himself didn't care for the name, but bowed to public sentiment. Still, he offered the Joe Louis explanation to throw people off, but finally admitted before he died that the team was named after him.
Posted by Paul Pearson on January 10, 2013 at 1:04 PM · Report this
Paul Pearson 15
On the subject, I hate the name "Redskins."
Posted by Paul Pearson on January 10, 2013 at 1:06 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 16
Miami University of Ohio changed their name from Redskins to Redhawks 10+ years ago. Its past time to change it.

How about the Washington Bullets? It has a nostalgic ring, and is still ironically appropos.
Posted by Max Solomon on January 10, 2013 at 1:12 PM · Report this
The media relations office of the Browns disagrees: "The Official NFL Encyclopedia of Pro Football also credits the legendary first coach and general manager of the team. But according to the media relations office of the Browns, the team is named after the "Brown Bomber," boxer Joe Louis."…
Posted by Guest Author on January 10, 2013 at 1:12 PM · Report this
Sir Vic 18
@12 I'm in the same boat of disbelief as you. Jack Kent Cooke spent a pretty penny putting that place together, and it's owned by the team. They may be trying to move some offices to DC, but after the Nat's stadium deal, I can't see anything big getting built for a while.
Posted by Sir Vic on January 10, 2013 at 1:18 PM · Report this
Paul Pearson 19
The Cleveland Browns' official website currently promotes the Paul Brown theory - "Brown, the founding coach of the Cleveland Browns and the man for whom the team is named..."…

Click on the "Head Coaches" link.
Posted by Paul Pearson on January 10, 2013 at 1:33 PM · Report this
Dear Unpaid Intern: They're not flouting anything but (perhaps) public opinion. They're flaunting an inappropriate and possibly racist moniker. The dictionary is your friend.
Posted by Calpete on January 10, 2013 at 1:38 PM · Report this

How about the White Sox?

Everyone knows socks are smelly and go on feet. Why do we associate this undergarment with whites?
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on January 10, 2013 at 1:58 PM · Report this
T 23
All this, and no mention of the Cleveland Indians?
Posted by T on January 10, 2013 at 1:59 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 24
@23: And the Atlanta Braves. They all need to go.

But, are specific tribal names OK? Florida Seminoles, Utah Utes, Illinois Illini?

What about the Fighting Irish?

Posted by Max Solomon on January 10, 2013 at 2:17 PM · Report this
Cascadian 25
I'd like to see all the racial and tribal names go (yeah, sure, even the Fighting Irish.) But let's start by just getting rid of the blatant ethnic slurs. "Redskins" is the worst (and their logo is pretty bad too), but the Cleveland Indians logo is as bad as the word "Redskins," and the whole tomahawk thing for the Atlanta Braves is appalling.
Posted by Cascadian on January 10, 2013 at 2:29 PM · Report this
Redskins is offensive, Browns is not
Posted by Seattle14 on January 10, 2013 at 2:31 PM · Report this
@ 4 What's wrong with that, I ask as a South Asian.
Posted by Seattle14 on January 10, 2013 at 2:32 PM · Report this
And please tell me you did not use an online poll, they are so unscientific.
Posted by Seattle14 on January 10, 2013 at 2:38 PM · Report this
care bear 29
The Washington City Paper wants to change the name to the Pigskins, which just sounds super weird to me.…
Posted by care bear on January 10, 2013 at 2:46 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 31
@25: low-hanging fruit 1st, yes.

but I wonder: if the Seminole tribe is OK with the FL State Seminoles, or the Utes/Paiutes are OK with the Utah Utes, what then?
Posted by Max Solomon on January 10, 2013 at 2:48 PM · Report this
McGee 32
@22 Stop being stupid.
Posted by McGee on January 10, 2013 at 2:51 PM · Report this
I think when we're talking about specific tribes, it depends on the tribe. From what I've heard, the Seminole tribe is OK with the Florida State Seminoles, but the Sioux were not OK with the North Dakota Fighting Sioux.

There's absolutely no excuse for the Braves, Indians, or Redskins, though. Executive Order it.
Posted by redemma on January 10, 2013 at 2:57 PM · Report this
Westlake, son! 34
@29 Pigskins makes sense. But I fear it would rapidly devolve into the "Pigs" which I don't think will help win over the female fans. Cowboys vs. Pigskins? Sigh.
Posted by Westlake, son! on January 10, 2013 at 3:10 PM · Report this
sperifera 35
@32 - Good luck on that one.
Posted by sperifera on January 10, 2013 at 3:44 PM · Report this
My understanding: The Seminoles in Flroida work with the university to keep things acceptable but the name is more controversial with the Seminoles who live in Oklahoma.
Posted by Spike1382 on January 10, 2013 at 4:33 PM · Report this
@33 actually, most Native Americans aren't bothered by these mascots (even Redskins, Indians, Braves, etc.). Unpaid Intern didn't bother providing such information because it destroys the narrative: a bunch of overcompensating white people being offended on behalf of another culture.
Posted by Chali2Na on January 10, 2013 at 4:45 PM · Report this
Cascadian 39

1. I favor voting rights for DC residents. I think most people do. It doesn't happen because of a lot of stupid political and procedural BS. (It's not even electoral votes, as the Constitution already guarantees them three.) Seems kind of pointless to tie the mascot issue to DC voting rights. (The mayor probably supports voting rights too.)
2. The city logo honors a particular person, just as King County's logo does. It's not a caricature of a complete ethnicity.
3. The Seahawks image is not a caricature of a person or group of people. It's a stylized drawing of a type of animal, though granted in a style more common north of here than in Seattle proper.
Posted by Cascadian on January 10, 2013 at 4:55 PM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 40
Well, Native Americans do not seem to care that much:

Perhaps because they have a bit more to worry about than the names of football teams?

Been a Skins fan my whole life, not sure if I could live with a name change unless it was the Washington Monuments.

Personally, I find it quite funny that the name can still exist, so I like it a lot. Part of the reason it still exists is because every time people actually ask Native Americans, they do not find it offensive or do not care.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on January 10, 2013 at 6:47 PM · Report this
I think the origins of the name are worse than more people realize. Dave Zirin talks about it in his book "Bad Sports" about some of the most evil owners in sports (Redskins owner Dan Snyder being one of the worst) but I couldn't find any links to his wording of the name origins. All I could find was something similar from wikianswers:

"Back not so long ago, when there was a bounty on the heads of the Indian people, the trappers would bring in Indian scalps along with the other skins that they had managed to trap or shoot. The term "scalp" offended the good Christian women of the community and they asked that another term be found to describe these things. So, the trappers and hunters began using the term "redskin". The term came from the bloody mess that one saw when looking at the scalp. Thus the term "red" skin because it was the "skin" of an "animal" just like the others that they had, so it became "redskins."
Posted by John In Ballard on January 10, 2013 at 7:32 PM · Report this
lauramae 42
Actually 40, many Native people find the name annoying and say so. It's typical of fans and team owners, and university boosters to do whatever they have to in order to protect their racist names.

Usually it starts with some fucking yahoo claiming the name is an "honor" and then when Native people object, other genius says "What about the fighting Irish" and then when Native people persist in saying "hey this is unacceptable" the people who claimed it was an honor start hurling a variety of the usual racial insults at the Native people who refused to feel honored.

So....if people say they aren't bothered by it, my guess is that people understand that racism doesn't go away easily and they can predict exactly how the conversation will devolve and then have to decide if that is a battle that is worth the effort. Usually it isn't and so it is much easier to just shrug and say "yeah, I don't care."

It doesn't necessarily mean that the person doesn't really care. He or she might just not care to engage you on the topic.

That said, why is it so goddamned important for white people to poll Native Americans and then when they find some that don't care, feel relieved to wallow in their favorite racist team name---like you for example?

If say, the Washington Racial Slurs had carried the name the Big Black Sambos do you think that media outlets would poll African Americans over and over to determine that they were okay with the name? Or would fucking common sense take over and the asshole owners get rid of that name realizing that having sports teams with names like Big Black Sambos is disgusting on it's face and that a poll was unnecessary?

Posted by lauramae on January 10, 2013 at 8:19 PM · Report this
My favorite team name is the University of Northern Colorado intramural basketball team's Fightin' Whities, so I'm probably disqualified from voting.
Posted by PCM on January 11, 2013 at 2:28 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 44
@42: Seems to me that if we are talking about an offensive name, the people it it supposed to offend should be asked about it. Whenever they do, about 90% of that group say they are not offended.

I just find it funny that white people are more offended by the name than actual Native Americans. Not surprising, white people love finding new ways to be offended on behalf of other people they see as helpless and therefore in need of some caucasian help. All this hand wringing is just a modern day "white man's burden" for lazy people.

Maybe Native Americans are tired of white people assuming they need our sympathies and pity. Of all the problems facing the Native American community, a fucking football team is not a priority. How much have you done for them, or is posting your manufactured outraged online the limit of your advocacy for Native Americans?

But all in all, I just don't care, because the team name hurts no one, just like Dan Savage saying "faggot" hurts no one. Love that fight song though, would hate it if it changed.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on January 11, 2013 at 5:07 AM · Report this
venomlash 45
Names like "Chiefs", "Braves", and "Blackhawks" are okay because they're at least somewhat respectful of the people they're referencing. "Redskins" needs to go. We wouldn't tolerate the Brooklyn Kikes, would we?
Posted by venomlash on January 11, 2013 at 8:40 AM · Report this
Bonefish 46
Won't somebody please think of the poor white man and his diminishing ability to use racial slurs without getting frowned at?
Posted by Bonefish on January 11, 2013 at 12:13 PM · Report this
lauramae 47
Mr 44: I am Tlingit which is Alaskan Native. My outrage is not manufactured, sparky.

The survey cited was from 2004. Hardly current. Plus I would be fascinated to know how they identified the respondents as "Native American." If I had to guess, it was mostly people with imagined connections to heritage based on stories about a "dark-haired" ancestor of mysterious lineage-but probably royal.

I think even, the concept of "offense" is misleading. Taking offense, or being offended is in reference to a singular event, or a moment.

The reason why most Native people have bigger things to worry about than the name "redskins" is because the same thing that is at work that allows such a name to persist also are at work in affecting Native communities and their lives.

Posted by lauramae on January 11, 2013 at 1:11 PM · Report this
They don't need to change the name if they change the mascot to the mighty redskin potato.
Posted by DRF on January 11, 2013 at 3:59 PM · Report this
lolorhone 49
I'm part Cherokee, part Creole, and most African American. If anybody decided to name a football team the Darkies or the Frogs I'd be disgusted and so would anybody with any kind of goddamn sense. Change it yesterday.
Posted by lolorhone on January 11, 2013 at 5:01 PM · Report this

Add a comment

Commenting on this item is available only to registered commenters.

All contents © Index Newspapers, LLC
1535 11th Ave (Third Floor), Seattle, WA 98122
Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Takedown Policy