Native American Groups Head to the Supreme Court to Challenge ‘The Redskins’

redskinsIt’s amazing how overlooked Native Americans are.. If we had a team called the Niggers or the Kikes or The Spics we would be outraged, even though there are people who use those terms in a familiar sense, comedic sense or as terms of endearment amongst themselves. We often hear people say that the names of the teams they root are part of a larger tradition therefore Native peoples need to shut up and stop complaining. The other excuse given when this issue comes up is that there are some Native Americans who don’t object to the names being used. They are usually trotted out before the TV cameras for the world to see and their words become the empirical evidence everyone clings to in order to avoid doing the right thing.

What’s often not stated is that some people are either super ignorant or have been paid off. We see similar behavior in the African American community with the use of the word ‘Nigga’ which unfortunately has been popularized and somewhat mainstreamed in rap songs. Leaders like Al Sharpton or Jesse Jacksonhave protested the use of the word in popular public mediums like radio and TV only to be rebuked by some ignorant rapper or ‘street wise’ individual who is suddenly buttressed up by the offending media outlet as the sole representation and opinion maker for an entire community. The bottomline is what’s wrong is wrong and like it or not using racial epithets to name a team is wrong plain and simple.

Is it tradition? Perhaps. But lots of oppressive things were tradition in this country. Women being property was tradition. Jim Crow laws were tradition. Children working in factories was tradition and so was corporal punishment in school. However, we saw the flaws in those traditions and they cease to be. Why can’t we find the flaws in calling a professional football team “The Redskins”? Why can’t we find the flaw in calling a team the Apaches, the Redskins, the Camanches, the Indians, etc ? Whats even worse is that many of these teams have mascots both in professional sports and in high school and college.

When confronted another excuse the offending party likes to fall back on is citing other groups who are not complaining. For example, I often hear people ask “Why are Native Americans getting so upset? You don’t hear Irish people complaining about Notre Dame calling themselves the  ‘Fighting Irish’. We don’t hear anyone complaining about teams being called the Patriots or Spartans?

That may in fact be true.. It doesn’t mean its ok. I don’t call the radio station everytime I hear a rap song being played on public airwaves with the N word unbleeped. Does that mean its ok to call me that? Absolutely not. Also maybe other ethnic groups don’t find this offensive for a variety of reasons-What does this have to do with Native Americans. If irish people wish to challenge schools like Notre Dame for calling themselves the ‘Fighting Irish’ they would be well within their rights. The drunken fighting Irishman is certainly an old stereotype that needs to be put to bed as should the Redskins.

As you read the story explaining whats going on.. check out this song which provides better context to what’s happening..

-Davey D-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXeyH9bH4oE

Indians ask Supreme Court if ‘Redskins’ offends

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090915/ap_on_sp_fo_ne/fbn_redskins_name

WASHINGTON – A group of American Indians who find the Washington Redskins name offensive wants the Supreme Court to take up the matter.

The group on Monday asked the justices to review a lower court decision that favored the NFL team on a legal technicality.

Seven Native Americans have been working through the court system since 1992 to have the Redskins trademarks declared invalid. A U.S. Patent and Trademark Office panel ruled in their favor in 1999. But they’ve been handed a series of defeats from judges who ruled that the plaintiffs waited too long to bring their suit in the first place.

A lawyer for the group says he’d like to see the highest court decide whether the Redskins name defames Native Americans.

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