The NFL Washington Redskins name & mascot — Are they cultural appropriation?
Yes, but more importantly, who cares? The primary issue here is not cultural appropriation, it’s racism. Imagine, if you will, a set of possible NFL team names and slogans:
- The Washington Darkies
- The Washington Slant Eyes
- The Washington Redskins
- The Washington Crackers
- Any Other Damn Name
If you were part of a focus group, and at least one of your criteria in picking a team name is that it shouldn’t racially denigrate an entire group of people, you would pick #5 every time. Admit it. Even though crackers are delicious, they get soggy when they sweat.
Of course, there is the argument that when the name was chosen, this type of racism was either not recognized or collectively ignored. Maybe the team owners genuinely in their hearts-of-hearts thought the name was a celebration of the Native Americans’ fighting spirit. Maybe everyone thought it was just the bees knees.
But none of that matters. Today, in the actual world we now live in, the Washington Redskins is very obviously and undeniably a racist name. And I say that knowing full well that people are denying the crap out of it. Even Native Americans:
Which just means we’re all human and, like all humans, we can be wrong. Because this name and mascot are wrong. They just are. People may disagree, and be truly passionate and sincere about that disagreement, but that doesn’t change the common sense nature of this problem. You don’t get to call teams by the skin colors of “other” races. Not anymore. Not ever again. Get over it.
So what should we do?
Change the name, of course. Almost anything would be better. Maybe the Washington Concussions or the Chiropractic Wet Dreams? At least those would be accurate. If you really need help here, I’ve got lots of ideas. Some of them involve small mammals and nipple clamps, sure, but that doesn’t mean they’re not just as valid. They’re certainly less offensive.
Just change the name, please.
Because sometimes you just do things to be respectful, kind and make the world a slightly better place. Sure, it’ll cost some money and, sure, it’ll mean some traditions have to change, but it’s the name of an NFL team. That’s all it is.
And if you change it, the team can market their cultural awareness and sensitivity while selling new schwag and raking in even more money. Local Native Americans can focus protecting their culture(s) for the next generation. And the people of Washington DC can turn their attention to other things like, well I’m not sure what, but I’m sure there’s something other than football that needs some attention in DC. I hear it’s moist in Puerto Rico.
(Change the name!)
Attribution: The idea for this post is taken from a truly offensive set of Tosh.0 skits called “Is it Racist?” but he probably appropriated the idea from someone else.