Thursday, October 10, 2013

The one about the Washington football team

It was suggested to me that I should start a blog.  So now I have.  I will probably write about all sorts of news and faith issues, but this first post is one that is deeply irritating to me.  I am rather passionate about not oppressing people.  Native Americans are one of the groups that I find people know very little about.  The remainder of this was originally contained in a note on my Facebook page. 

Dan Snyder has made his position clear once again (as if anyone thought it would change) about the name of our local football team.  It's his team, he can name it whatever he wants.  I do have a few issues with his logic though.

1.  Claiming you had a coach and players who were Native American and therefore cannot be racist against Native Americans is inherently flawed. People are often intolerant of groups they claim to love and support directly in front of them.  May I introduce you to the phrase, "I'm not racist, but..."

2.  Consulting with the Red Cloud Athletic Fund about your logo is a lovely thing to do way back in 1971.  Images have changed in the last 42 years.  Also consulting over an appropriate image is not consulting over the offensiveness of a name.  Do you know or care that Pine Ridge, SD is the second poorest county in the US?  Are you hoping to get sympathy points by name dropping them?  The Lakota didn't take kindly to Johnny Depp attempting that earlier this year.  Or are you actually doing anything to further support young Lakota athletes? 

3.  The Annenberg Public Policy Poll was conducted "over [a] very long period of polling, October 7, 2003 through September 20, 2004" (per their website).  Do you think people's thoughts may have changed in 10 years?  The poll was also done of 768 people who self identified as Native American, you claimed nearly 1000.  The population of the Pine Ridge Reservation, which you name dropped earlier, is estimated to be 40,000.  I could personally find 768 people who could prove their tribal affiliation offended by the name of your team in less than a year. 

4.  The Patawomeck tribe is not a nationally recognized tribe.  They were rediscovered by an anthropologist in 1928 as an offshoot of the Powhatan tribe.  Ironically, they would not be included in many federal programs and polls about Native Americans.  While I have no doubt that Mr. Green and the estimated 500 members in the Fredericksburg area tribe have had struggles over the years and certainly have much to contribute to any discussion on Native American culture and issues, you cannot discount the 2.9 million Native Americans in the US because 500 are not offended.

5.  People buy all sorts of things.  Yes, they buy your merchandise.  They would buy it with a new logo too.  Just because people purchase things does mean it is not offensive to others.

6.  Lastly, you do not get to decide who is offended and who is not.  You are a white man and are the most privileged member of our society.  You are probably the last person who will be offended.  Who you discount is entirely up to you, but do not pretend to understand when there is no equivalent for a person of your position.

In case you would like to read his letter,

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