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WASHINGTON’S HOUSE IS FALLING
By:-Gary Norris Gray-BASN Staff Reporter
If America cannot do the simple things like changing the name of a professional football team or changing the logo of a professional baseball club, how are we going to change the hard issues when it comes to race in the United States?
On Monday Night the last place Washington Football Club played the Seattle Seahawks in Landover, Maryland. The Seahawks ran all over Fed Ex Field and beat Washington 27-17. That is just the beginning of this football team’s problem, as it meets economic, political, and social pressure over its “Redskin” name.
1.) The (WFC) Washington Football Club’s Merchandise sales have dropped 42 percent in the past year.
2.) Sponsors are beginning to rethink their position on the R-Word i.e. Budweiser Beer Company, Coca Cola Company, and Bank of America. The Fed Ex Shipping Company has not commented on the subject. The Fed Ex Board of directors and stockholders are getting nervous because this issue will not go away.
3.) The team has lost its U.S. Patent trademark rights on its name to block other businesses from creating or selling Washington Football Club material for profit. It is now in legal limbo and could take years to decide.
4.) In the next two months (AIM) The American Indian Movement has planned protests for the rest of the 2014 (WFC) season at a series of stadiums across the country.
5.) The (FCC) Federal Communication Commission will have a conference meeting this month on the issue of broadcasting The R-Word. Some newspapers and radio stations have decided not to use the word on their own.
These five points would make anybody nervous and want to give up the fight but (WFC) Owner Dan Snyder, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and The National Football League continue, while five points direct the way of how change will occur.
Money makes the world go around and the (WFC) must be asking, what happened the last two years because football fans are not buying Burgundy and Gold material?
Powell suspects some of the drop in the sales of Redskins items is due to manufacturers and retailers pulling back on the production and stocking of them, although he doesn’t have any specific examples of that happening.
“If I’m a retailer and I’m nervous about this logo, I’m taking a more cautious approach,” he said.
The trademark protections remain in place while the team appeals the Patent Office ruling.
Redskins items used are among the most popular of any NFL team. Teams across the league are sharing in the hit to sales, since merchandise profits are shared league-wide.
That is going to put more pressure on the team from other owners to drop its fight to retain the name, according to Powell.
“This is all about making money. They’re not doing this for love,” said Powell.
Money talks and nobody walks and the (WFC) is hurting sales across the country in other football stadiums. This will not last long if this downward trend continues because owners will tell Dan Snyder change the name because it is now a league economic issue.
Coca Cola and Bank of America did not respond to the request of USA Today on Sept 4, 2014 on the issue of the name. The Fed Ex shipping company has not said a word either but the pressure is on to distance themselves from the R-Word. World corporations should think about the following.
Michael Friedman, a clinical psychologist from New York involved in the study and treatment of adults with psychological, health and interpersonal issues for over 20 years, suggested waiting is harmful — if not to the corporate sponsors, to Native Americans.
“The use of a government-defined racial slur is harmful to Native American adults and children, which is verified by social science, and sponsors need to think about that,” Friedman said. “I think it is time for corporations to step up and do things that benefit not only their shareholders, but all of the stakeholders in our communities.”
Next question do they care?
On June 18, 2014, the United States Patent and Trademark Office cancelled the Washington Redskins trademark license for a second time, because the name is “disparaging to Native Americans.” Bob Raskopf, the Redskins trademark attorney, released a statement saying they plan to appeal the ruling. Raskopf claims the Trademark and Patent office lacked substantial evidence to back their claim that the Redskins name was disparaging to Native Americans, as well as the tribes petitioning for the name change. He also claimed that while the appeal process is going on, the trademark will remain valid. The team filed its appeal of the case on August 14, 2014; stating their belief “that the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) ignored both federal case law and the weight of the evidence”. They also cite infringement of their First Amendment right to free expression.
This could be the final nail in the (WFC) coffin and the name might be finally on its way out.
The protest and marches will start on October 12th at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona when they play the Arizona Cardinals.
Then it’s on to the big state of Texas on October 27th when they visit the first place Dallas Cowboys at A T & T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The next and most published protest will be on November 2, at TFC Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This will be a national televised night game on Sunday. First Nation Brothers and Sisters from Canada will join Native Americans in Minnesota to make this the biggest protest since the last Super Bowl when Washington played the Buffalo Bills in 1992. Thousands of Native Americans withstood the bitter cold outside of the Metrodome to inform the public about the name.
The Minnesota Vikings now rent the University of Minnesota football field until their new stadium is finished in 2015. The University and the Big Ten have a policy of not having derogatory, disparaging, or disrespectful names in their stadium; The Washington Football Club fits this category. Question will they cover-up The (WFC) equipment bags, uniforms, helmets, and luggage when they are on the field?
Then it is on to the Bay Area of Northern California and Levis Stadium in Santa Clara on November 23 when they will play the San Francisco 49ers.
The Protest Tour will end at Fed Ex Field in Landover, Maryland on December, 28. Owner Dan Snyder will receive a Christmas and New Years Eve present. The poor Dallas Cowboys get an up-close and personal view of these protests twice.
“It’s almost 2011, and we still have a professional sports team named after a racial slur?” After all, the term “Redskin” was a largely-derogatory term for Native Americans, used by white people who were disparaging the native peoples of this land. Worse, the team with the racial slur as a name is the NFL team from our nation’s capital? *slaps forehead* What are we thinking? Was it not bad enough that the folks in D.C. broke almost every single federal treaty signed with Native People?
I can already hear the reaction most defenders of this mascot would have: But we’re honoring their brave warrior spirit! They should feel proud that a Native American is the mascot for the Washington Redskins.
There is also the issue that Native Americans refer to each other by this name, it does not happen. The name became an American slang or moniker during the Indian Wars when cowboys had to have a record of their killings by carrying the heads of dead Native Americans. The art of scalping became known and then blamed on the Native Americans. Head wounds bleed more than any other wound – Thus the R-Word.
Its 2014 and Washington Football Club owner is still fighting the fight to keep this racist name. Snyder uses the same terms of honoring Native Americans with this name. It’s like calling this team politely the “RED NIGGERS”.
Ms. Teters later says:- In Major League Baseball, you have the Atlanta Braves (who, in a step in the right direction, tactfully changed their mascot from a racist depiction of a native person to a baseball-headed guy):
The Braves have removed almost every reference to Native Americans on their uniforms and baseball caps without fanfare or conflict. Now if we could work on that Tomahawk chop.
Ms. Teters makes a very good point and the Washington Football Club might be feeling the political pressure now.
For example, Colorado State Senator Suzanne Williams recently introduced (though later withdrew under tremendous pressure) a bill that would have required all public and charter high schools in Colorado seek approval from the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs to make sure that the mascot was accountable and respectful. Local pressure has been applied to school boards and state legislatures all over the country in hopes of encouraging high schools to change Indian mascots to something more respectful. The NCAA even attempted to have all American Indian mascots eliminated from participating schools, but it decided (through political pressure) that it could not force schools to change their mascots and simply ruled that such mascots could not represent teams in the NCAA playoffs.
These are some of the colleges and universities that have changed their names
- Dartmouth – Indians to Big Green (1974)
- Siena – Indians to Saints (1988)
- Eastern Michigan – Hurons to Eagles (1991)
- St. John’s (N.Y.) – Redman to Red Storm (1994) This is a classic example of things getting out of hand through misunderstandings. The admistration at St. John’s University were so scared that there would be protests at the school that they changed their name that had nothing to do with Native Americans. It was a club of men that wore red jackets that were called Redmen.
- Marquette – Warriors to Golden Eagles (1994)
- Miami (Ohio) – Redskins to Redhawks (1997)
- Seattle University – Chieftains to Redhawks (2000)
- Louisiana-Monroe – Indiana to Warhawks (2006)
- Arkansas State – Indians to Red Wolves (2008)
- North Dakota – Formerly dropped Fighting Sioux in 2012. No nickname currently.
North Dakota is trying to reinstate the mascot in 2015 even-though it would lose the chance to play in any NCAA Championship. The NCAA rules state the school cannot have a name or mascot that has not been approved by that tribe or the Native American Council or that is offensive.
- Illinois – Removed Chief Illiniwek as a official mascot in 2007. Athletic teams are still called Fighting Illini. This was one of the bitter, brutal fights in America. The Illini Tribe were upset that the Chief Illiniwek mascot preformed dances that the school claims that were authentic tribal dances which they were not. The school could have had tribal members teach each new Chief how to perform these dances instead they ignored history and did it their own way creating conflict.
- Bradley and Alcorn State – Both schools stopped using Native American mascot but have retained their Braves nickname. The Bradley Braves like the University of Illinois refuse to have dialog with Native Americans.
- William and Mary – Adjusted their Tribe logo by removing the feathers to comply with NCAA. Athletics teams are still called Tribe. (2007)
Utah (Utes), Central Michigan (Chippewas), Florida State (Seminoles) and Mississippi College (Choctaws) all appealed successfully to the NCAA after being deemed “hostile and offensive.” These schools have also worked with the tribes to get the uniforms, colors, and history correct.
These colleges and universities changed their name and mascots because they were receiving federal funding from Washington D.C.
Professional teams have not budged with the exception of the Atlanta Braves and Golden State Warriors.
In the 1940s the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) created a campaign to eliminate negative stereotyping of Native American people in the media. Over time, the campaign began to focus on Indian names and mascots in sports. The NCAI maintains that teams with mascots such as the Braves and the Redskins perpetuate negative stereotypes of Native American people, and demean their native traditions and rituals. Proponents of Native American mascots, however, believe that Native American mascots pay respect to these people and promote a better understanding of their cultures. Despite this issue gaining prominence during the civil rights movement, it still continues today as many teams continue to possess mascots with controversial names and images.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says he thinks the “Redskins” name for Washington’s NFL team is offensive and should be changed, but thinks public pressure is the best vehicle for that exit.
Former FCC Chair Reed Hundt, who is leading an effort by former FCC officials and others to get Redskins owner Dan Snyder to change the name of the team, had asked FCC commissioners to speak out. Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has said she knew the name was offensive to a number of people and had concerns herself, but Wheeler had yet to weigh in–the other commissioners have declined comment.
“I don’t use the term personally and I think it is offensive and derogatory,” Wheeler told B&C/Multichannel News. “I am a Civil War buff,” he pointed out, “and there were a lot of terms that were appropriate at that time that aren’t appropriate any more.”
Hundt has said he thinks the term could be indecent by FCC standards or its use could disqualify Snyder’s under character qualifications for ownership.
Each station could be fined from $1,000 dollars up to $5,000 dollars each day when they used the R-Word. The FCC could go even further by pulling the licenses of the stations who repeat the use of the R-Word.
THE PATH OF HISTORY
Let’s go back to the beginning in 1932 when George Preston Marshall owned the club named The Boston Braves. Marshall moved the club out of Braves Field to Fenway Park and renamed the club the Redskins to suggest a brotherhood with the Boston Red Sox. But there is a darker side to this name. Marshall stated he named it in honor of the Native American Coach William “Lone Star” Dietz who was part Sioux. This act created the racial tone to the football club’s name.
Marshall’s Washington Football Club became the flagship football team for the south even the song had the words “Fight for old Dixie” before the change in 1962 to “Fight for old D.C.” which sounds very much like the original lyrics.
Marshall also did not want African American players on his team and got away with it until a young fiery President Kennedy told him if he did not have a Black player in 1961 he would have to move out of D.C. Stadium because the park was owned by the United States Department of the Interior. There could not be segregation in a government building.
This was another act of a racial defiance by Marshall and the (WFC). The Washington Football Team was the last professional football team to integrate drafting fullback Ernie Davis who happen to be the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy. Marshall stated that he traded Davis to Cleveland for running back Bobby Mitchell and wide receiver Leroy Jackson.
It is ironic that George Preston Marshall passed away in August 9, 1969. In that same year Native Americans occupied the Island of Alcatraz in the San Francisco Bay Area. This was to attain the attention of Americans who were unaware of the living conditions of tribe members throughout the United States. This was the first time many Americans ever knew about the living conditions of our Native American brothers and sisters.
b) Native Americans have the lowest paying jobs
c) Native Americans have the highest school dropout rate
d) Native American girls have the highest pregnancy rate
e) Native Americans have the highest suicide rate
f) Native American have the highest drug and alcohol rate
g) Native Americans women have the highest murder rate
h) Native Americans are second in homeless citizens in this country
i) Native American men have a difficult time reaching the age of 60
THESE ARE FACTS-NOBODY WANTS TO DISCUSS especially the Washington Football Club or The Cleveland Indians Baseball Club.
(AIM) The American Indian Movement did not get support 50 years ago because they did not have the social, political, and economic power to change their circumstances. This is slowly changing with the multi cultured coalition to fight to CHANGE THE NAME!!!! of the WFC and the logo of the Cleveland Indians.
The Occupation of Alcatraz had a direct effect on federal Indian policy and, with its visible results, established a precedent for Indian activism.
Robert Robertson, director of the National Council on Indian Opportunity (NCIO), was sent to negotiate with the protesters. His offer to build a park on the island for Indian use was rejected, as the IAT were determined to possess the entire island, and hoped to build a cultural center there. While the Nixon administration did not accede to the demands of the protesters, it was aware of the delicate nature of the situation, and so could not forcibly remove them. Spurred in part by Spiro Agnew’s support for Native American rights, federal policy began to progress away from termination and toward Indian autonomy.
In Nixon’s July 8, 1970, Indian message, he decried termination, proclaiming, “self-determination among Indian people can and must be encouraged without the threat of eventual termination.” While this was a step toward substantial reform, the administration was hindered by its bureaucratic mentality, unable to change its methodical approach of dealing with Indian rights. Nixon’s attitude toward Indian affairs soured with the November 2, 1972, occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). Nixon reputedly felt betrayed, and claimed that “he was through doing things to help Indians.”
President Nixon almost killed the progressive movement by AIM by withdrawing support. The Native American political movement gained traction again when the Washington Football Club won the Super Bowl in 1982.
The R-Word will not be with us too much longer because the political, social, and economic pressure will, “MAKE IT SO”, as Captain Picard of the Starship Enterprise states.
Here is some advice CHANGE THE NAME back to the original, Washington Braves, or a new name like the Washington Warriors. They could even be innovative by naming the team after a local Native American Tribe in the D.C. Area like the Piscataways or the Susquehannocks.
Special thanks to The Hill.Com
POPSSPOT.com Power, Oppression, & Privilege in Sports
For the additional information in this article
Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network on Blogtalkradio.com Disabled Community Activist. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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