Washington Redskins: What's In A Name?

By Joseph Nardone
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Definition of Redskin according to Merriam-Webster: informal and offensive : native american. The word redskin is very offensive and should be avoided.

That should be the end of discussion, right?

The world itself is defined as being a racial slur and something that a group of people find offensive. Still, for whatever reason, the Washington Redskins have kept the name and there is a strong number of people who feel the topic about changing the name is silly or pointless.

It should be noted that most people probably don’t even think of Native Americans whenever Washington plays. I doubt that a single person who screams ‘Redskins’ has any intentional bigotry behind their cheers. That doesn’t make it okay, though. The word is not meant to offend you or your sensibilities. It is a slur directed to a minority — Native Americans.

That’s an important point to bring up when someone talks about polls or popular opinion. A very smart article by our own Brian Carroccio discusses such things. He talks about the polls Roger Goodell did as well as other things that are seemingly important to the discussion. And while they are relative to a degree, it misses the underlying theme to the discussion — the word ‘Redskin’ is a racial slur regardless of what a poll says.

The word was not given birth to offend white, black, purple or any other ethnicity. It is a slur towards Native Americans. Poll all the people you want, but unless your poll deals solely with the people the slur is likely to offend, it has zero merit. It’s not up to a group of white people or any other ethnic group to decide what the minority should or shouldn’t find offensive.

At one point in time, racial slurs towards other races were deemed okay. Guess what? If you polled people from just 80 years ago, I bet they would say they find nothing offensive about those slurs. Being that the word Redskin is considered a slur by definition, why is it that folks are so quick to defend it?

Goodell is unlikely to be a racist and it would be irresponsible to call him that just because he backs keeping the name around. Daniel Snyder is also unlikely a bigot. The idea of him knowingly hurting an entire race’s culture would be unthinkable. The two of them — and countless others — have done their best to figure out the right way to go about handling these things without rocking the boat too far in either direction.

Like the majority, their efforts don’t feel hollow, although they do feel fairly misguided.

Some are calling the ‘name debate’ contrived, claiming that the majority of people don’t care about the issue. While that is technically true, isn’t that the point? I mean, Native Americans are the minority. People who are unfazed by the name are largely not. So, mathematically speaking, of course only the minority is going to be upset about the use of the name.

This isn’t about being politically correct, liberal or republican. This is about treating a minority group of people correctly — which is something our country has fumbled on in most of our existence.

The sad thing about all of this is that as we all talk about how progressive our nation is and how tolerant we are, we won’t even acknowledge a word that is defined as being a racial slur and doesn’t belong in our culture. It does not matter if you, I or even a minority of the minority isn’t bothered by the name — Redskin is a slur no matter what anyone says.

When you go to a Burger King, do you order for the people three spots behind you? Of course you don’t. It’s not up to you to decide what that person is going to eat and it’s not your burden to pay for it.

So why is the majority speaking about the name ‘Redskin’ when it has very little to do with them other than, you know, a game? It’s not in their place nor is the slur a burden that they have to live with.


Me, Twitter @JosephNardone

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