What’s The Big Deal About Changing A Team’s Name?

Should the Washington Redskins change their name?

Yes. By all means yes.

I don’t understand the argument against it. In general, some in the Native American community find racial terms like “redskin” as offensive as I do being called a “Nip.” Not a majority mind you, but how many is enough?  I don’t know if you know it, but before it became un-“PC,” people of Japanese heritage were called “Jap” – short for Japan, and “Nip” – short for Nippon which is Japanese for Japan. It was meant with hatred, derision, and prejudice. It wasn’t simply a “nickname” for Japanese-Americans. I still don’t like it when people say there’s a “nip in the air.” I know they generally don’t mean anything by it, but it still bothers me. I imagine this little Japanese-American boy flying around in the sky like a kite. “Oh, look! There’s a Nip in the air!”

The logo of the Washington Redskins – a recent poll finds that a vast majority of Native Americans are not offended by the name, so how much is enough?  The picture is from the article about that poll.

Holding on to traditions just because they are traditions is a poor excuse for racism, prejudice, and offense. Can people take being “PC” too far? Sure. Whenever people are adjusting to a new way of thinking there are bound to be people on both sides – people who push for change when its not needed and equally people who refuse to change because they don’t want to change their ways. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t change.  I think it means we have to be open to the spirit of change and embrace it.  Especially when it causes harm and reinforces negative stereotypes.

The tomahawk chop – more or less offensive than the Redskins? Photo from the article about the chop’s offensiveness from SB Nation

By the way, it’s considered a negative stereotype if the people it is stereotyping are offended by it – not if the stereotype reinforces a positive trait.  Take the Atlanta Braves for example.  I love the team having lived in Atlanta for nearly 10 years, but I could really do without the name.  I have to tell you that every time they did the tomahawk chop, I cringed. And yes, I would feel that way about any group of people. If they called themselves the Atlanta Chinamen or the Atlanta Nips and had the chopstick salute, I would feel the same way. I know the argument that it’s meant to honor their fierce bravery, but if some of the Native American community would prefer not to be labelled as such, shouldn’t we honor that?  Wouldn’t that be the right thing to do?  Why do we hold on to tradition so tightly when it doesn’t produce the results we are hoping for? Besides, think of the financial benefits! Everyone who is a fan now has to buy all new hats, shirts, jackets, and jerseys!  Win-win if you ask me.

Why do we have to name any team after an ethnicity anyway? Have we run out of cute animals?

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