What Does Redskins Mean To You?

| January 10, 2013 | 0 Comments

Everyone is looking for reasons as to why Robert Griffin III suffered a serious knee injury on Sunday, potentially sidelining him for part of the 2013 season.

Among the most “unique” is Courtland Milloy’s assertion in the Washington Post that the name “Redskins” has brought bad karma. The same bad karma that just a week ago brought us a 7 game winning streak and the NFC East title.



So Milloy is saying what, that someone put a hex on the team because of their name? That’s not stereotyping at all.

But what’s in a name, indeed.

I won’t pretend that it doesn’t get increasingly more difficult to see the team’s names has another-more harmful-connotation. And the really cold fact is that, because Native Americans have been so marginalized in our society, that the offensiveness passes unnoticed because there is really no around to hear the tree fall in the forest. Were a name given to Blacks (or Hispanics like myself) that was seen even by some as offensive would probably get shouted down because there are enough people in that constituency with enough of a relevant voice to tell society that is unacceptable.

However, when you say the word “Redskins” in so-called mainstream U.S. society what people think of first IS the football team, and NOT the ethnic group.

When people talked about “ni**ers” that word was laced with hatred and a misguided superiority at the time it was being said magnified by violence, lynchings, separate restrooms, back of the bus, you name it. Say the word “Redskins” today and there is no associated hatred or sense of supremacy. There is no instantly inferred associated negative baggage. Yes, it is the same “word” but the substance is not the same at all.

I don’t remember anyone thinking Mark Rypien was dumb or inferior as the Super Bowl winning QB because he was Native American. No one opposed the team’s attempts to draft Sam Bradford because he carried Native American blood.

I became a fan of the Washington Redskins during the best possible time to be a fan, the 1980s. And for me the name depicted pride, success and glory. To be a “Redskin” was a badge of honor in the sports world and in the local community. It stood for humble guys who worked hard on the field with great teamwork and gave to the community off of it. It conjured up images of Darrell Green, Art Monk…not Sitting Bull.

Once again, thanks to positive community role models and humble overachievers like Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris, the name “Redskins” is associated with winners and leaders on and off the field. That’s what in a name


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