Apparently, there is a conflict between the pro-Washington R_ _ _ _ _ _ s and the anti-Washington R_ _ _ _ _ _ _ s. The former wanting to stay true to the team's name (which I will not print here) and the latter saying it should be changed. Is it just a matter of being politically correct? I don't think so. And let me tell you why.
First, let me ask you a question. If the Cleveland Browns were instead called the Cleveland N_ _ _ _ _s, would there be an issue? Or would people turn away, disgusted at those politically correct liberals spouting off again?
But it's not the same, you may be thinking. Isn't it?
Have you ever looked up the R-word in the dictionary? According to The Free Dictionary: "n: Offensive slang. Used as a disparaging term for a Native American."
How about the N-word? "n: Offensive slang. Used as a disparaging term for a Black person."
Hmmm. Note any similarity here? I sure do. But maybe what you need is some background. Do you know why Native Americans were called the R-word 100 years ago or so? It seems there were some bounty hunters who were paid to slaughter the Native Americans. To prove they'd done so, they brought back the bloody scalps, or red skins. But it went a step further. Because men were worth more than women and women more than children, they also brought back bloody genitalia as proof of gender and age. Those being killed were referred to as the very same name of a popular football team that is fighting tooth and nail to maintain that name.
So, maybe the history doesn't move you enough to take a stand. How about some current day facts about Native American youth in our country. Did you know, among any ethnicity, Native American youth have
- the highest dropout rate
- the lowest graduation rate
- the highest suicide rate
If you were a Native American teenager, how would you feel if you were seated at a football game and all around you fans were screaming, "Kill the Indians!" "Scalp the R_ _ _ _ _ _ _s!"
Remember, we're talking the fragile youth of this country. We love to talk about bullying and its horrifying effects, but don't you see how this, too, is a form of bullying?
Dahkota Franklin Kicking Bear Brown wasn't about to sit by and watch as his friends and family members gave in to the despair. Rather, he formed N.E.R.D.S. (Native Education Raising Dedicated Students), a nonprofit organization providing peer-to-peer tutoring and mentoring for Native American students in California. The goal is to spread to other states so more young lives can be changed and possibly saved. Good for you, Dahkota! The world needs more young men like you.
But let's get back to the issue. Should the pro-football team in Washington be forced to change their name? Should high schools (including my children's Alma mater), universities, and other pro sports teams change their team names and/or mascots? Or do you think American Indians/Native Americans are fair game when it comes to things like this? I'm really curious. What do you think?
Let me know in the comments below.
And if you're still on the fence, watch this: