Speak out against ‘Redskins’

As a privileged white male, I am appalled by the ongoing defense of the racist Washington football team’s name. I believe the only true defense of such a name is to maintain a system of social and cultural oppression. I stand with all those opposed to the name and encourage others to speak out as well, especially those of us who share a privileged social, economic or cultural status.

Our voices must unite with those who have long spoken out to demand that team owner Dan Snyder changes the racist name. The argument continues to be that the name “honors” Native Americans, yet those who make this claim are white. Overwhelmingly, Native Americans continue to speak out and say it does not honor any of their traditions or culture. Indeed, according to the National Coalition on Racism in Sports and Media, it reduces the victims of genocide to a mascot.

While Snyder continues to masquerade a few paid spokesmen to defend his mascot, the majority of the Native American tribes across the United States condemn the name. Some Minneapolis City Council members have condemned the name — though the city has been unable to prevent the name from being used.

Some in Congress have also called for the name to change, and the trademark has been revoked. The true point of resistance on this issue is simply about Snyder’s own stubborn pride and his wallet. It is time to stand up, speak out and tell Snyder and the National Football League it is time to change the name.

If we want to honor the Native Dakota and Ojibwe communities in Minnesota, it should be through cross-cultural dialogue about our shared history and culture. It should be established through discussions about the legacy of the Dakota War or about the social and economic disparities between Native Americans and their white counterparts. Honoring Native American people should mean working together to address inequities in education, jobs, health and wellness.

When Washington comes to lose to the Minnesota Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday, I will be standing with my fellow Minnesotans saying no to racism. Until then, I hope you will help me brainstorm names that could better honor Washington’s football team. Perhaps the Washington Gridlock?