The Talking Lion

Saturday, September 17, 2005

I hate when I'm a hypocrite...

I am a huge Redskins fan. And I hate that I agree with this article by Mike Wise about the team's name being more than slightly racist:
Which brings me to the Washington Redskins and every other professional franchise or school vowing to never retire their American Indian names, logos and mascots, to make things right with a culture and a people.

As you're drinking out of your Redskins mug Monday night while wearing your Redskins T-shirt -- supporting your make-believe Indians against those reviled Cowboys -- think long and hard about what a sweet way to "honor" a people that is. And, please, enough with this, "We're paying homage to the bravery and warrior mentality of the Native American." That's the same tired excuse Florida State University uses to continue the tradition of a student on horseback in full Hollywood regalia, chucking a flaming spear into the ground at midfield before football games, while thousands of people participate in the Tomahawk chop and the accompanying war chant also popular at Atlanta Braves games. The truth: The indigenous people of this continent were almost all hunters, gatherers, craftsmen and craftswomen before some of our ancestors nearly exterminated them and turned them into B-western caricatures.

I just hate to think that one day I'll be a fan of the Washington 'not Redskins' because I absolutley dread the fact that it'll be Dan Snyder's call as to what the new name will be. Changing the name is the right thing to do, but it doesn't mean I have to like it. And Wise ends his column perfectly:

When parents buy their children bedspreads and rain ponchos with the team's insignia on it -- as Snyder's parents did for him -- it becomes part of your life experience, a piece of personal history.

But it's not your history. It's not your cultural symbol. It never was. You co-opted it, seized someone else's identity and made it part of your own. When Native people try to explain that, you should listen -- just as you would listen when a black person tells you they don't appreciate the term "colored," just as you would listen when a well-educated person from Morgantown tells you it's no longer funny -- it never was -- to paint West Virginians as toothless, moonshine-sipping hayseeds.


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