May 27 2014

Erasing the “R” Word From our Lexicon

Everyone knows the “n-word,” but what about the “r-word?” The word redskins is defined in the dictionary as a racial slur. And yet such a derogatory word has remained part of our cultural lexicon, most prominently through the name of a major NFL football team, the Washington Redskins.

While there have been numerous unsuccessful efforts by Native American groups to change the team’s offensive name since the 1980s, pressure has recently been mounting once more. Bolstered by the NBA’s firing of LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling following the release of a recording of his racist sentiments, 49 US Senators sent a letter this past week to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell calling for a change to the team’s name.

President Obama, various civil rights groups, sports figures and even the United Nations have also endorsed the name change. Yet team owner Don Snyder refuses to consider any changes and has instead established a non-profit to help improve the lives of Native Americans called the “Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation.”

GUEST: DaShanne Stokes, author of “The Unfinished Dream: A Discussion on Rights, Equality, and Inclusivity,” as well as a number of articles on ethnic team names and mascots featured in Indian Country Today

Visit DaShanne Stokes’ website at www.dashannestokes.com.

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