What’s Wrong with the Redskins?

By Karen Petree

Photo by Washington Redskins photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by Washington Redskins photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I don’t think many football fans give the image in the Redskins jersey much thought.  Football is about tackles and yardage and touchdowns. The Redskins are the guys who brought home three NFL championships and three Superbowl rings.  They’ve been the Redskins for over eighty years.  So why does it matter what they’re called?

A Tribe Called Red, a Canadian band whose members are First Nations, or aboriginal Canadians, recently caused a controversy when one of them wore a mock jersey for an imaginary team called the Caucasians.  The logo has a caricature of a blond, grinning white guy with a dollar sign over his head.  People called it racist against white people. I linked to an article about it on Facebook.  Most commenters thought it was a very effective statement.  Several people thought it was funny.  But the fact that whites, including myself, are able to laugh at that t-shirt reminds us that the balance of power is heavily tipped in our favor.

I’m so comfortable in my whiteness that I can afford to mock my race because I don’t stand to lose anything by it.  I have de facto respect that I don’t have to fight for. Meanwhile, Native Americans still struggle for a modicum of the inherent respect I take for granted.

The United States has never honored a treaty with Native Americans.  People who look like me and talk like me took their land, attempted to erase their cultures (and in some cases succeeded), and even went so far as to purposefully infect them with diseases to which they had no resistance.  Today Native Americans live amongst the rest of us or on reservations, somewhat sovereign pieces of land that have high rates of poverty, alcoholism, unemployment and violence.  We left them with this, and yet idealize a stereotype of cultures we destroyed.

So tell me again why changing the name of a sports team is such a big deal?

I didn’t choose to be white.  But if I’d had a choice, assuming I’d known anything about the way the world worked, I would’ve chosen to be white.  My life is easier because I’m white.  My kids’ lives will be easier.  I didn’t choose for it to be that way, but the truth is, it is.

I didn’t chose to be Texan either, or Southern, but I’m glad I am.  It’s who I am.  It’s in the way I eat, the stories I tell, the traditions I cherish, and the way I talk.

There are things that Southern people say. Ain’t.  Fixin’ to.  Djeetyet? Cotton pickin’. These expression are just part of my dialect that distinguish me from people in the rest of the country. I love where I’m from. Its history is often ugly, but whose isn’t?  This is where I was born and raised and this is how I talk.

It wasn’t until college that I really looked at words and what they carry. And I wasn’t too keen on changing at first.  It seemed silly to me that people got so worked up over something so stupid.  Cotton pickin’ is an adjectival phrase that describes frustration towards the noun it describes. I’ve heard it all my life. My grandmother said it.  My mom said it.  I said it, too.  But I’ve never seen it written. Never spelled it out. It was something Southern people called the lawnmower when it was being cantankerous.  “I can’t get the cotton pickin’ thing to work!” I never thought about a black person while cursing a contrary piece of lawn equipment. It wouldn’t even make sense for me to compare a broken lawnmower to a black person in the Old South.  I always just assumed slaves worked harder than anybody else back then. Didn’t have much choice did they?  So why would I equate a malfunctioning lawnmower to black person?  Slaves worked hard.  The lawnmower doesn’t work.  A comparison is illogical.

Way back when, slaves picked the cotton. They were machines of flesh that required a white master to operate effectively. Cotton-pickin’ wasn’t about whether something worked or not – it was about an object’s inherent worth.  After Abolition, blacks in the South still picked the cotton. They weren’t really slaves then, just worthless sub-humans. Generations later that idea isn’t part of my suburban reality, yet it lingers in my language.

Though my intentions when I said that word were never offensive, the expression carried with them a reminder of a painful past that people who look like me perpetrated against people who don’t.  I never thought twice about the expression or where it came from.  I probably never even visualized its parts:  Cotton.  Picking.  But my African American friends hear something different.  They hear the vestiges of history that still permeate their daily lives, something I will never be able to fully understand.  And they hear my ignorance regarding what it means to be black in America.

We’ve come a long way since slavery, and we’ve still got quite a ways to go.  I stopped saying cotton-pickin’, and a few other Southern expressions, because I want to keep walking forward.  I may not hear what they hear when someone says “cotton-pickin’,” but I now hear a history that makes me uncomfortable, too.

Changing the name of the Washington Redskins is no different.  When the name changes, and it inevitably will now that the U.S. Patent Office has refused to renew the logo, football will still be football.  There will be sweat and glory and touchdowns and Nike endorsements.  But perhaps we will take one step, even if it’s a small one, toward closing the gap history has left us.  Change may be uncomfortable at first, but refusing to do so in some sort of glorification of your history doesn’t make you a patriot or a loyalist or the opposite of a bleeding heart.  It makes you an inconsiderate asshole.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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60 thoughts on “What’s Wrong with the Redskins?

    1. The Kosher Giants would be awesome. Pregame interview, a wide receiver would say “Cuz like I’m the Meat and their safety is the Cheese. When I get that ball, we’re not even gonna touch!”

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  1. You were eloquent right up to the point where you used profanity to make your point. You were concise in your position and I respect your right to take whatever position you choose, even though I disagree with you. In this age of politically correct dialogue, it’s just another example of one group forcing their views on some other group. I for one, have native American blood in my family heritage and I don’t find using the name Redskins offensive, but I do find it offensive that those without native American ancestry tell me how I should think or feel. If you’re making this argument, why don’t you go after Notre Dame’s mascot name? Is it not also derogatory to depict all Irish as predisposed to violence? All I’m asking for is a consistent application of your reasoning to ALL cases regardless of race or ethnicity.

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      1. Well said, Karenpetree. I really dislike when ppl sidetrack an issue to complain about how someone isn’t complaining about another. If one feels strongly about Notre Dame, one May simply write their own blog about it and relate it to this one.

        To the original author of this post, it is very well-written and thought provoking. Your cultural awareness with the absence of sympathy or “White guilt” is precisely the mindset our society needs in order to continue to progress. You don’t have to experience identical suffering as someone else in order to empathize with them. All that being said, your compassion is appreciated. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Asshole is what it is. We all have one, been one, acted like one, looked like one, and well…yes…on occasion, smelled like one. Its quite appropriate for the article. Is it any worse than calling a football team “Redskins?” Its all in ones perception. I will tell you this, if my dad ever heard me say asshole, lord help me, I’d be picking myself up off the ground…That being said, I once heard my moma call dad an asshole! She heard me laughing and told me to “get on out the house” cause “me and your daddy are having a discussion.” Yes ma’am! and dad was on the short end of that discussion……

      We all have the right to our opinion and I thoroughly enjoyed reading “What’s Wrong With The Redskins?” I just don’t agree with it. Where does it stop? The Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, FSU Seminoles, Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Hawks, (was the blackhawks) Its not for the minority to dictate what the majority enjoy…Its like…banning the Christmas Manger Scenes in public parks because it offends atheists. How many atheists do you you know? Hell, there’s lots of things that offends me, I just “get over it!” Its what makes America, America. As the Beatles once sang, “let it be.”

      “If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It depends on who I’m dealing with at the time and what is being discussed. I will listen to any point of view or opinion. If I don’t particularly like your opinion or a portion thereof does that label me as being inconsiderate? Surely not. I may find I like a point you made that I had not previously considered and it works in both directions. If we both change the way we look at any given situation we should be able to come to an agreement, understanding or compromise and walk away friends! 😉

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        1. Dialogue is how we grow. If one is too insecure in her opinions to be able to hear the other side, than it’s likely that those beliefs don’t have a solid foundation. I can only see the world from my own point of view – my background, education, socioeconomic context. And with that information, I make the best decision I can. But I can’t see everything, so that’s why it’s so important to discuss and be open to hearing a different point of view. I’ll either affirm that I’m right, or patch up the holes in my argument, or realize I don’t have the whole story. I think the underlying motivations for our opinions often matter much more than the opinions themselves. Thanks for contributing 🙂

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  2. It’s so refreshing to read that a white person “gets it”. This is an excellent post, and you explain racism and privilege so brilliantly. I wish all Caucasians could realize that “the balance of power is heavily tipped in [their] favor,” that racism does not come with privilege. Thank you for posting this and for your intelligent world view. By the way, I thought that mock jersey worn by a Tribe Called Red was hilarious, too.

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  3. The problem is that the people pushing the change are, by and large, not native americans, but whiny white people who are trying to assuage their white guilt. As a Hispanic, I think these white people are acting like idiots. As a Hispanic with some Native American blood, I think my Native American ancestors maybe should’ve tried harder to reach the iron age so that my Hispanic Ancestors might’ve had a harder time decimating them and taking their land. (At least my Cherokee ancestors had the good sense to create a written language before it was too late). White liberals demand multiculturalism while they excoriate themselves for the appropriation that the desire to celebrate and remember other cultures that multiculturalism leads to.

    Yes, get rid of the redskins. Get rid of the helicopters named for the tribes. Let the sensitive white man completely forget that the Natives ever existed here so that they won’t accidentally remember what happened to them and get their feelers hurt.

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  4. Also, as someone descended from cotton-pickers, who were NOT black, from a place called Cotton Plant, “Cotton Pickin'” has more to do with the difficult, frustrating and often uncomfortable nature of the task of picking cotton than it does african americans or slavery.

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  5. I love this post. So brilliantly written. I wish that the people who are so defensive about changing language due to a stubborn attachment to tradition would read this. Unfortunately, I worry that you may be preaching to the choir…hopefully I’m wrong. Being ‘Freshly Pressed’ might help!

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  6. For the record. The U.S. Patent office never received one single complaint about the Redskins logo. Of course now that the politically correct crowd has gotten it’s panties in a wad again, they’ve put their sights on the U.S. military aircraft names. How pathetic that we’ve become a nation of people that believe they should be immune from having their feelings hurt. Intolerance is a two way street.

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    1. The record clearly shows that there were no complaints prior to the decision. The USPTO made its decision based on a legal claim. But the way the USPTO works doesn’t really make public complaints all that efficacious. But regardless, my opinion isn’t based on the USPTO decision – that’s just the news peg. My opinion is based on what I feel is the right thing to do based on historical circumstance and a history of advocating the issue by the Native American community.

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      1. I just find it really odd that after years of hardly no mention of the Redskins being an issue, suddenly, overnight it becomes the target of Harry Reid and and every other politically correct proggy out there. Coincidence? I hardly think so. In my humble opinion it’s just another example of big government making another move at taking control. I respect your own personal opinion but I, like so many other Americans, are just a little sick of the handful of politically correct cry babies using the power of government to push their own agendas on the rest of us. They bitch about intolerance yet they are the ones who keep insisting that everyone else think like they do. Sorry, but it isn’t going to work that way.

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  7. Thanks for the read, I really enjoyed hearing a little about you and your heritage and how it is reminding you of earlier history and hoping to close the gap! It’s something that we too have been trying in Australia.

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    1. I never realized this was a particularly politicized issue. I know people on both sides of the political aisle who are for/against the name change. Personally, I’d rather talk to you as equals than control you.

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  8. Not being from the south, I never realized where the expression “cotton pickin” came from. As far as the Redskins name, there are many differing opinions; it probably should be changed as it offends some people. There are other terms in our lexicon that come from offensive times, and it can become burdensome when the politically correct police regulate what we can say about everything.

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    1. I think it’s hard to definitively trace the origins of any word or expression, but a lot of it I think has to do with the belief about the origin of the word, which is often very powerful. I agree that political correctness can be taken too far and become more burdensome than useful.

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  9. Well said. There is NO need for you to apologize for those are offended. Happy that you chose to do so. Being black, I do not take offense by what others considers to be racist. Why? Because you are giving another power to manipulate what you think and what you do. In the end, everything will come to the point of being offensive.

    Racism is wrong in all forms. Many of my black friends use the N-word. But as soon as anybody white uses it labels are thrown. This is a form of race baiting. Now some will call me a UncleTom for saying this, for the most part it’s the truth.

    I think most of us want to live in a world where everyone gets along, but that will never be the case. We can never make all of us happy.

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  10. You say you didn’t choose to be white. I respectfully disagree. Like job applicants filling out a legal disclosure on a form, you chose to self-identify as white. You made it your identity, the white man. I prefer to go by the words of the junior civil rights leader, Martin Luther King (junior,) who looked to experience that moment when a man was not judged by the color of his skin but by the content of his character. I actually prefer the words of a senior civil rights leader who actually made that sentiment happen, senior General George Patton who said:
    “Men, you are the first Negro tankers ever to fight in the American army. I would never have asked for you if you weren’t good. I have nothing but the best in my army. I don’t care what color you are, so long as you go up there and kill those Kraut sonsab*tches!” — George S. Patton

    I think it is a racist micro-aggression to be so focused on skin color that you would try eto change the name of a 50 year old team, a team honoring that name with a proud tradition. I feel discriminated against.

    Perhaps there is a way to make everyone happy: let’s change the name to the Washington Asshole’s. Not only does it accurately describe most politicians, but if someone ever asks why they are called the assholes, you can say you named it after the folks who cry babied about the name redskins.

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  11. Reblogged this on I am Danger: You are entering the Danger Zone and commented:
    I don’t reblog much. I didn’t reblog this because I agree with it, but because it is well written and I want to be more about engagement of people with differing views. I will introduce it with my comment in reply to the blog post. I encourage you to join the conversation:

    You say you didn’t choose to be white. I respectfully disagree. Like job applicants filling out a legal disclosure on a form, you chose to self-identify as white. You made it your identity, the white man. I prefer to go by the words of the junior civil rights leader, Martin Luther King (junior,) who looked to experience that moment when a man was not judged by the color of his skin but by the content of his character. I actually prefer the words of a senior civil rights leader who actually made that sentiment happen, senior General George Patton who said:
    “Men, you are the first Negro tankers ever to fight in the American army. I would never have asked for you if you weren’t good. I have nothing but the best in my army. I don’t care what color you are, so long as you go up there and kill those Kraut sonsab*tches!” — George S. Patton

    I think it is a racist micro-aggression to be so focused on skin color that you would try to change the name of a 50 year old team, a team honoring that name with a proud tradition. I feel discriminated against.

    Perhaps there is a way to make everyone happy: let’s change the name to the Washington Asshole’s. Not only does it accurately describe most politicians, but if someone ever asks why they are called the assholes, you can say you named it after the folks who cry babied about the name redskins.

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    1. Thanks for the reblog. I disagree about the “choice” of being white. I typically don’t fill in a racial category, which are actually optional. Whiteness is arbitrary. Race doesn’t exist biologically speaking, but rather is a sociopolitical creation that is uniquely defined by each society. Some countries, like France, keep no official records on race. Others, like the US, have fairly sharply defined categories. But, I didn’t choose to be white any more than I chose to be a woman. There are a lot of different identities that I can choose, but racial identity is unfortunately not one of them because it is socially ascribed. One might shape her identity around race, especially if race plays a factor in limiting the social and economic mobility of that individual, and I know many people that do that, including white people, many of whom feel they are victims of “reverse discrimination.” I could say “I’m not white,” but that isn’t going to change the way others treat me. I’m not going to be suddenly denied privileges of being white. People in the African American community are not going to accept me as a non-white. But we can overcome the limitations of these socially imposed categories by recognizing where they come from and how they define us, and trying to rise above. I think the best way to do that is through discussions like this.

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      1. Thank you for the comment. (Off topic- but wanted to say I like your style, you write very well) When I said you chose to be white, I was trying to make the point you described when you say that race does not exist biologically speaking, but is a sociopolitical creation. Where we differ: I don’t agree that you can not choose your racial identity because it is socially ascribed. I also think that keeping official records of race and treating races differently does harm. I am not familiar with French policy, but I think I like theirs better as you describe it. It is closer to the MLK ideal of being considered based on the content of one’s character. You say the African American community is not going to accept you as a non-white: I think they might except you as Karen the writer—why does race need to be a factor at all? MLK didn’t accept socially imposed categories, he went on principle. Special privileges on race and name changes like the redskins debacle do more harm than good, they reinforce a wrong-headed notion that minority groups are less than equal and need assistance, and harm dialog. Let me give you some anecdotal or personal evidence: in my comment I went with calling you a white man even though you are a woman as the least likely to offend PC path: would it offend to say white girl? person? Women in Congress go by Congressman—-it just sucks we have to waste mental energy on “microaggressions.”

        I spent what I didn’t know at the time was a very special time on an elite AAU championship swimming team in high school–I was barely good enough to have the honor of being there. I was the only one on the team who was not African-American. I saw the harm first hand caused by accepting socially ascribed roles, and have many stories to tell, but the most troubling: on a long bus ride I was helping a friend with his calculus homework: his main problem is he lacked confidence—he came to me for help because I was white so I must be smart. I explained to him that didn’t matter, he was actually a very smart guy but quit on the problem early etc. he was taking all of this activism to mean he was inferior, and I could not get him to believe otherwise.

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      2. By the way: I wasn’t serious about calling the team the Washington Assholes: I was offended at your ending. I think there is actually a simple solution to this whole thing: change the name to what people actually call them, The ‘Skins

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      3. Thanks for the compliment. As for the French, I should have gone into much more detail. They don’t keep census records of race, but racism and xenophobia are rampant and create many social issues in the country, specifically in the banlieus. Without census data on race, it’s difficult for that country to track the implications. Kind of like sweeping it under the rug. Officially ignoring it doesn’t make the social issues go away. http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1887106,00.html

        As for my own race, my friends don’t see me as white Karen, and I don’t view some of them as my “black friends.” But what I mean when I say it’s socially ascribed is that there is a difference between us in the way society treats us based on race, even if we don’t prefer to identify or relate to each other in that way. Statistically, I’m going to make more money. I’m less likely to be the subject of racial profiling. People don’t have an inherent fear of the danger I pose based on my skin color and the way I’m dressed. These things don’t just go away over night, and although I am not racist or my identify is not defined by my skin color, I am still subject to the conditioning I was raised with in my predominantly white middle-class social group that taught me that I was different than the immigrant kids that lived in the run-down apartments, for example. We can’t just unlearn these things, but we can overcome them by acknowledging that they exist. To pretend my Muslim friend, for example, doesn’t face harsher scrutiny at the airport, when I’ve watched it happen with the same coded language that people in one group use to talk to other members of that group, would be to deny her experience. But I don’t dwell on it. I don’t ally myself with members of that group, even if they are also “white.” It isn’t something that is constantly there between us, but when it presents its ugly face, I acknowledge it, call it out, and champion the people who are challenging the status quo and the stereotypes. And between friends, I think a lot of the way we do this is through humor because it can be so uncomfortable. But I completely agree that we at times overdo activism to the point that it hinders us. I see that with feminism a lot, and eventually I’ll write about that (much too complicated to get into here though.).

        I in no way support the “white girl” syndrome. (Cringe).

        I didn’t think you were serious about the Washington Assholes. I like to put a little kick in the end of my stories to make sure people are still awake – no offense intended. 🙂 Thanks for engaging. This is a great convo!

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    1. Thank you. I favor conversation over accusation. I think it’s far more effective if I can write in a way that invites someone to disagree with me and not hesitate to tell me 🙂

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  12. When I first started reading this, I was like, “where is this going?” Your last line after a very thoughtful diatribe made me laugh…and you are 100% right. The name is offensive and needs to be changed: bottom line. The team will be ok, and I bet merchandise sales will even spike as every fan will want the new brand. It’s not only the right thing to do, but a no brainer from a business sense. There is still the option, of course, as PETA (of all groups, who knew they had a sense of humor) suggested, to keep the name and simply change the logo to a potato…changes the whole context…they could even start serving roasted redskin potatoes at the stadium on game day. Either way. CHANGE IT.

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  13. This is an interesting argument, to me as an outsider. I’m what i suppose you’d call a European (i’m from Scotland). By and large, political correctness has gone totally mad in the last ….lets call it ten years. I mean, would it not make more sense to ask representatives of the Native American population their thoughts about the the use of the term/name Redskins, in relation to its use as a team name?

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    1. I agree that political correctness has gone overboard in some cases. But in this case, I don’t think it’s about being PC. Several representatives of Native American communities have been pressing for this kind of change for years, but the majority culture often idealizes the Native experience and very few people know the reality of US-Native American relations. The Oneida nation launched a movement called Change the Mascot, and they have a great video here. http://www.changethemascot.org/ Thanks for commenting. It’s always enlightening to be able to look at one’s own culture from the perspective of an outsider.

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  14. First off I look white but I have a mixed ancestry. I am Irish, Scottish, German, Cherokee, Apache, and Blackfoot. Having so many different ethnicities I have a few things to say. First since it started in college that means you fell for the BS progressive revision of history. First the “native” Americans were not peaceful before the Europeans arrived and as far as treaties, the tribal leaders sold out their own people and when they realized the bad deal they broke the treaty. You may be right on the infected blankets but we may never know for sure if they were intentional. As far as “cotton pickin'” I live in Alabama and hear more black people use that phrase than white. As far as white privilege goes, I drive a car that the driver’s door does not open and I work a job that pays less than $40,000 a year even with a degree. I have struggled for everything I have and never used government to get anything. Back to my ancestry, if I were as sensitive as the progressives wanted me to be, the Celtics, Indians, Braves, Red Sox, The Fighting Irish, Vikings, Seminoles, and the Redskins. Since my great-grandfather was full-blooded Cherokee, he was proud of the redskin moniker because it is a badge of honor.

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    1. Thanks for your comment. I did not claim that Native Americans were peaceful prior to the arrival of the Europeans. Nor did they exist in a wilderness utopia with at one with nature and 100 words for snowflakes. My point with “cotton pickin'” isn’t that language always means the same thing to everybody, but to many of my African American friends, it carries the connotation of slavery and discrimination. The negative connotation is more powerful than my connotation of the word. In order for us to overcome the past, we often have to make compromises. It’s not always about “me.”https://karenpetreedotcom.wordpress.com/wp-admin/edit-comments.php#comments-form

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  15. tough issue and I’ve been called a racist and a sexist for standing up seemingly benign things like my favourite team and none likes being labelled as such.
    Although, there is a bonus – you do know that you have their full attention and that you are all they are thinking about in that moment. And thats kinda cool.

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  16. “Balance of power” NOT “tipped in favor of Caucasians”. Obviously tipped in YOUR favor, as a trust fund baby; but for the majority of Caucasians today, the “balance of power” is in favor of anyone who can claim minority status. Who can make that claim? Anyone but those who are of the 8 % of the worlds population who are Caucasian.

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    1. Kindly notice I didn’t say “Caucasians.” The word is a misnomer. As a social scientist, the inaccuracy of that term when talking about race relations in the US sends shudders down my spine, and if we’re to be accurate, the term is far more encompassing than the American sociopolitical definition of “white.” Trust fund baby? Hahahaha I wish! Actually though, I don’t. I’m glad I grew up the way I did learning the value of hard work and how to stretch a dollar.

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      1. thanks for reply. enjoyed your article even though I do not agree with it. I’d be proud to have the team called the Caucasians. Native Americans should also be proud. Imposing guilt upon another is used to wrangle special treatment. Today’s youth has been conditioned to believe they should feel guilt for being white. They believe a lot of propaganda by those who benefit from imposing guilt. Reverse discrimination is the result.
        Actually, the Natives of the Northeast did have a red tint to their skin. I’ve got it. There was a lot more assimilation & mixing among the natives and the immigrants than is commonly known today. During the Plain Indian Wars it became shameful to admit to your partial Indian ancestry. Children were not told they were part Native American. When I am in a picture with my wife from Poland and other Poles I stand out as Red. Otherwise, it’s not noticed because it is such a common skin color among Americans believed to be pure Caucasian. Caucasian is a term commonly understood in the US to mean white or, in other words, of European ancestry. In Social Science the meaning may be different. My guess is what you are referring to is Indo-European. That includes very dark skinned people of India whose facial and other features are identical to light skinned Europeans. Am I correct?

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  17. I truly don’t understand the resistance of fans to the name change. I see two facts: [1] Some people are definitely offended; [2] The word “redskins” is universally defined as an offensive term (representing, as it does, the bounty offered for killing Indians). Is the name of the team so important that it outweighs that and just cannot be changed? Exactly what noble traditions are so vital here?

    It’s clear to me why the owner won’t change: doing so would cost a bundle. But I really don’t understand the resistance of fans.

    There was an interesting bit on The Daily Show about this. Two groups were interviewed, one comprised of Indians, one comprised of team fans. The team fans argued the name was no big deal and no one they knew was offended… until confronted with the first group, and then the stammering and red faces and embarrassment began. Even those pro-name fans knew, in their hearts, the name was wrong.

    Defending the name, as far as I can see, is inexcusable. There is no rational basis for its defense.

    As to names such as “Braves,” “Chiefs,” “Indians,” and even “Fighting Irish” (all of which have been raised as counter-examples), these things are not the same. The first two, and last, terms present those groups in a strong light — the words have obvious positive value.

    As for “Indians,” I recall reading notes from a tribal council where the consensus was the preferred term was to identify a person with their tribe: Navajo, Hopi, Cheyenne. If you don’t know a person’s tribe, then Indian was an acceptable term. They were, after all, named for the country that asshat Columbus thought he’d found. (One panelist quipped he was just glad C.C. wasn’t seeking the Virgin Islands.)

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