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Speaking With Forked Tongue
PHILADELPHIA (BASN/STR-ITR): The recent statement made by the Kansas City Star was supposedly designed to enlighten.
“The nickname of Washington’s football team — and Native American
nicknames in general — will always be a point of contention despite
the fact that the Redskins have been named as such even before they
arrived here in 1937 (1933, for those wondering).”
“I almost always come down on the side of publishing a word when it’s
the crux of a debate (as I did here in the first paragraph). It isn’t
healthy for discourse to pretend any words or thoughts don’t exist.
“But I see no compelling reason for any publisher to reprint an
egregiously offensive term as a casual matter of course.”
Public Editor Derek Donovan’s statement wasn’t even a ripple in the media pond; the only reason it became an issue is because Kent Babb, the former Star columnist moving to D.C. and the Washington Post may now be at loggerheads because of this.
Beyond the ‘why is this important now?’ is the more relevant “where the fuck have you been?” There are many of us in and out of mainstream media who have not and will not use the formal name of Washington’s NFL franchise.
My own background notwithstanding, I have not (aside from a couple slip-ups on air when doing NFL analysis in Canada) used Washington’s full team name. Even when I worked as a senior editor for a Draft publication, I would not use the R-Word; and anything I wrote or edited would not carry that name – all this spanning over at least 28 years covering sports.
That also includes 18 years of covering the NFL via electronic and print media – and, ironically no one ever returned my copy or edited it because I would not include the R-word (that includes my 6 years at BASN as well).
My colleague Gary Gray, who clearly expresses his passion in a previous piece on this subject, opened the door to another facet of this issue; the further disrespect to Native Americans by continuing to minimize the damage. Some fake contrition on the part of The Mouse during some of their programming made it even worse.
If you’re going to do something that matters because it’s right to do, you should simply not just do it, but do it consistently. How many of these spineless so-called journalists had their cocktail and feel – good moment thinking they were doing something relevant while Native American groups and First Nations groups have been protesting Washington’s NFL nickname for more than a generation. Whatever noble intent might be spiriting this issue fades when others fail to jump on board. Did the Washington Post consistently sweat the NFL team to change its logo or its name? Hell no…
But when D.C.’s reputation was taking a hit in the early – mid 1990s due to the high degree of shootings and violence they did lean on then – Washington Bullets (nee Baltimore Bullets) owner Abe Pollin to change the name of the NBA team playing in their town; the result – the Washington Wizards.
So it stands to reason that if that kinda energy could be utilized to produce change over an inanimate object, why such resistance over something which deliberately dehumanizes a significant segment of our human population?
While the images of logos that have been used to represent the team on helmets, caps etc. have not been disrespectful (the Cleveland Indians’ Chief Wahoo is by far the most reprehensible logo in professional sports), why would you want to entertain such inhumanity when you don’t have to?
Daniel Snyder spent over $800 million to buy the team in 1999; and now the franchise is worth over a billion dollars. If Snyder lacks the conscience Pollin may have succumbed to, then out of sheer unadulterated greed, you’d think Snyder would have a press conference tomorrow and rename the team the Washington Warriors – and no one would say a thing; in fact he may even enjoy a bump at the top of the merchandising charts because fans would be scrambling to buy the new stuff!
But all that brings us back to where we started. If the hometown paper had flexed on the football team long and hard (especially given the pedigree of the racist bastard who first owned the team in George Preston Marshall) the few persistent voices would have been silenced long ago.
The Office of the President had to flex legal action against Marshall to draft Black players because he was content with keeping Washington’s roster white in the 1940s and 1950s, so don’t tell me a similar effort to bring peace to a turbulent situation would not be a moral imperative.
If you think such an act is unwarranted, try this out this weekend: every time you hear Washington’s NFL team mentioned on air or see in print, replace the other part of their team with your pejorative word du jour; hey that asshole Phil Mushnick wanted to call Brooklyn’s NBA team the Brooklyn Niggas – pop that in every time the team is mentioned and see if that same feeling coming with those who find the R-word offensive doesn’t register within your psyche…
Meanwhile, we at BASN and Soul Tree Radio will continue to do what we’ve been doing – without fanfare or press conferences; because it is the right thing to do.
Always outnumbered; never outgunned…
Copyright c 2012 Michael – Louis Ingram all rights reserved.
Michael –Louis Ingram is the Associate Editor for BASN and producer /host of the radio show “Soul Tree Radio – In the Raw!” on www.blogtalkradio.com