Redskins Finally Changing “Racist” Name – Activist; Why Change Is So Strongly Supported and So Long Overdue
Redskins Finally Changing Their Name
WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 13, 2020) - The NFL's Washington-based football team is announcing that it will finally change the name which has been held to be "racist" in several legal decisions, and condemned as insulting and derogatory by virtually every American Indian organization and many others, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf, who helped lead the battle for the change, or to at least to stop the use of the word on radio and TV where children as well as adults are exposed to it daily.
Indeed, many stations and dozens of individual broadcasters - including Bob Costas, Tony Dungy, Lindsay Czarniak, Greg Gumbel, etc. - have agreed not to use the word on the air.
Banzhaf says that broadcasters would not dare to use a similar racially derogatory name for other teams or organizations - such as the "Southland Sp*cks," "Chicago Ch*ns," "Jersey J*ps," "Roseland R*gheads," "Kingston K*kes," etc. - and would certainly not use the N-word as part of a team name - although many American Indians says that the "R-word" is as racially derogatory towards them as the "N-word" is to African Americans.
Indeed, notes Banzhaf, the name of the musical group "Niggaz Wit Attitude" was rarely used in full on the air, even by African American announcers on stations catering to African American listeners who logically might be expected to understand it in context and not as an insult, yet some radio and TV stations often use the R-word hundreds of times in a single day.
In contrast to the N.W.A. group which chose the name to reflect their race and heritage, the name "Redskins" was not chosen either by the players nor by American Indians. Indeed, the myth that the name was chosen to honor a particular Indian (former coach William Dietz), or Indians generally, was shattered almost 100 years ago by a 1933 AP interview in which the team's original owner and original founder, George Preston Marshall, admitted that it simply wasn't true. The racist name was chosen simply to save money.
Keeping The Offensive Word Off The Nation's Airwaves
As Banzhaf revealed more than five years ago, as part of his effort to keep the offensive word off the nation's airwaves, Marshall picked the name "Redskins," which even then had racist and derogatory connotations, so that he could continue using the American Indian logo, while ditching the team name "Braves" to avoid confusion with the Boston baseball team which was using that name.
Banzhaf also noted that several states have made legal determinations that automobile owners may not use license plates with the word "R*dskins," or anything even resembling "R*dskins," because the word is "racist," and such a display would be contrary to the public interest because it would expose the public to a swear word, even though such an exposure to any passing motorist - unlike the repeated use of the R-word by a radio or TV stations - would be so fleeting as to almost go unnoticed.
Very similar findings and statements have also been made by other official and/or governmental bodies, including the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the District of Columbia City Council, American Psychological Association, the D.C. Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments [which called the Redskins name "demeaning and dehumanizing"], the Governing Council of the American Counseling Association, a resolution adopted by many major civil rights organizations, a coalition of more than 60 religious leaders, black and Latino organizations, and many others too numerous to list separately.
Other Similar Names
Contrary to arguments by opponents, pressure to change the name "Redskins" because it is insulting and derogatory to American Indians does not necessarily mean that other team names related to American Indians - e.g., Atlanta Braves, Chicago Blackhawks, Cleveland Indians, etc. - must also change, says Banzhaf.
The words "Braves," "Blackhawks," "Indians," are not generally described and defined as words which by themselves are racist or derogatory, even though images, mascots, caricatures, and things like the "tomahawk chop" can be, suggests Banzhaf.
After dozens of years and pressure for change from many different quarters, it looks like the Redskins will finally change their name without much loss of revenue or fan support, just as the Washington Bullets (formerly the Capital Bullets) changed their name to the Washington Wizards, even thought the word "Bullets" was nowhere near as derogatory as the word "Redskins," predicts Banzhaf.