Friday, July 3, 2020

It's Not Just Washington That Needs To Change Its Team's Name...

THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE team from Washington D.C. — whose name will be avoided as much as possible in this blog post — announced on Friday, along with the support from the league itself, that it will begin a "review" of the team's name, for being offensive to Native Americans and Indigenous People in the United States.

The pressure from Nike, FedEx, Pepsi, and other corporations seems to be the driving force behind the review.

For some, the writing is on the wall — a name change is inevitable.

From The Washington Post:
The team offered few details of what the review will entail, but one person familiar with the discussions between team owner Daniel Snyder, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and other league officials said that the review is expected to result in a new team name.

“You know where this leads," the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "They’re working on that process [of changing the name]. It will end with a new name. Dan has been listening to different people over the last number of weeks.”
This is a change that was needed decades ago. No group of people should be a mascot; what's more, to use a known derogatory term as that mascot name is doubly wrong.

This isn't just a "polite" thing to do. There are real-world implications and harms caused by such names existing. The use of Native American names and imagery as mascots causes damage in two ways, to two different groups of people, according to the American Psychological Association

Directly, it is discriminatory and causes psychological harm to Native American children. Such use of mascots "establishes an unwelcome and oftentimes hostile learning environment for American Indian students that affirms negative images/stereotypes that are promoted in mainstream society," the APA says.

Indirectly, it establishes and reinforces those stereotypes, too, to students who are not Native American. Mascots undermine "the educational experiences of members of all communities — especially those who have had little or no contact with indigenous peoples," says the APA. "The symbols, images, and mascots teach non-Indian children that it's acceptable to participate in culturally abusive behavior and perpetuate inaccurate misconceptions about American Indian culture." 

With these thoughts in mind, it's not just the team from Washington D.C. that needs to consider a name change — local school districts, too, in Wisconsin and elsewhere, need to halt the use of Indigenous People's names or imagery as team names.

There are really no more excuses to resist doing so. It was wrong then, and it's wrong now.

Featured image credit: Rich McFadden/Joint Base San Antonio 

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