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Washington Redskins: What is in a Name?

May 23, 2016
Plain English Version

In a name

There is widespread support for changing the name of the Washington Redskins football team. The name offends a cross-section of Americans. Many politicians and the president think the name is an insult. Some Indian leaders lead the effort to have the National Football League force a change in the name.

A newspaper polled Native Americans. How did they feel about the name? The answer is that nine out of ten of the Indians polled said they did not mind the name.

An Indian leader commented. He said the results of the survey show how strong the Indian community is. He said Native Americans would not let the name define their self-image.

A poll conducted twelve years ago showed the same result.

The owner of the Redskins said the results proved he was right. He said the name shows “honor, respect and pride.”

Eighty years ago there were two teams in Boston named the “Braves.” They were a baseball team and a football team. The owner of the football team said he changed the name of the team to “Redskins.” He did it to end the confusion over the teams having the same name.  By choosing Redskins, he also was able to keep using the logo. He moved the team to Washington, D.C.

Whether true or not true, that is history. Today it is about politics. Sex, race, gender and ethnicity are important parts of “identity.” Years ago the term “redskin” was not an insult. But times change.

Black people are now called African-American. They were called “colored” years ago. There is the N.A.A.C.P, the National Association of Colored People. Martin Luther King, Jr. said “Negro.” That was in common use for many years.

What if the team changed its name? Some would say the owner was bowing to “political correctness.” Many others would say the change was long overdue.

Source: The Washington Post May 19, 2016

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