FOR THE WEEK OF JULY 20, 2020
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In a long-awaited move, the Washington Redskins will change their name and logo, widely seen as a racial slur by Native Americans and others. "Never has arrived," writes USA Today football reporter Tom Schad, referring to owner Daniel Snyder’s repeated insistence that he'd never rename the franchise. "You can use caps" for never, he told that newspaper in 2013. The team hasn't yet announced a new name or said when it will do so. (A new NFL season starts Sept. 10.)
The turnabout comes amid mounting pressure, including from FedEx, a major sponsor that holds naming rights at the team's stadium. In addition, Nike recently dropped team merchandise on its website and two other big sponsors -- Pepsi and Bank of America -- called for a name change. The move follows decades of simmering frustration from many Native Americans and activists, who've criticized the Redskins' name as insensitive or racist. The word's roots extend back to at least the mid-18th century, when colonists and Native Americans began clashing.
Another team with a Native American mascot, baseball's Cleveland Indians, also is moving toward a new name. "The recent unrest in our community and our country has only underscored the need for us to keep improving as an organization on issues of social justice," a July 3 statement says. The late May death of George Floyd while being arrested in Minneapolis intensified national discussions about racial injustice. Inappropriate symbols and monuments have come down. "We will not rest until the offensive use of Native imagery, logos, and names are eradicated from professional, collegiate and K-12 sports," says Crystal Echo Hawk, executive director of IllumiNative, a nonprofit alliance in Tulsa, Okla. "The time is now to stand in solidarity and declare that racism will not be tolerated. . . . There is no good way to honor native people by making mascots around them." In contrast, President Trump said two weeks ago that the Redskins and Indians shouldn't give in to political correctness.
Team says: "Dan Snyder and Coach [Ron] Rivera are working closely to develop a new name and design approach that will enhance the standing of our proud, tradition-rich franchise and inspire our sponsors, fans and community for the next 100 years." – July 13 Redskins statement
Name critic says: "We celebrate the retirement of the Washington NFL football team name that has long perpetuated racism and harm against Native peoples." -- Crystal Echo Hawk, director of activist alliance
Reporter says: "I'm happy about the change. I will be able to root for the team guilt-free." – Robert McCartney, The Washington Post
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