Thursday, June 19, 2014

Random Thoughts: When Did It Become Acceptable To Be Racist Towards Native Americans?

In elementary school, we all learned about the first Thanksgiving. Englishmen came over in boats from England, and settled on the east coast, somewhere around Massachusetts. The Native Americans came together with their new friends and had an epic feast that started an annual tradition. Somewhere along the line, Pilgrims decided they quite liked this new land, and decided to rape, murder and push out their new friends. "Get your red asses out of here, and move to Oklahoma. We're taking your land!"

That was the impression I got, even as a child. I always thought it was kind of messed up, although our teachers never really went in depth with a very ugly, but often ignored part of our history. Christopher Columbus was a murder, rapist and pirate. He is regarded as the man who discovered America and school's praise him as a hero to impressionable young children. Seems about right.

The point of this article is to bring attention to the whole "Redskins" debate. Many people want the Redskins to pick a different name, others, citing tradition, want to keep it. Both sides seem pretty passionate about the topic. Many cite the fact that Redskin is a racial slur, while others ignore Webster's and consider it a perfectly acceptable nickname. Those close-minded folks say:  politically correct faggots are ruining all of the fun! What side does one choose though?

Well, look at the origins of the Redskins name. The Redskins moved to DC in 1937, after being called the Boston Braves in 1932 and the Boston Redskins from 1933-1936. Some argue that the name was selected as a means to honor our Native American friends, You know, honor them by naming a team after the color of their skin. Seems like praise of the highest order!

Perhaps the Detroit Lions can honor their high black population by changing the name to the Detroit Black Dudes. The logo can be a black dude with an afro, complete with a gold tooth and a piece of fried chicken hanging from his lip. The mascot could be Jamal, a black dude with seven children and no job. Stereotypes are such an honor!

Why stop there? San Diego is 30 minutes away from Mexico, so let's change the Chargers name to the Mexicans. Then, they can swap out the lightning bolt for a brown dude in a sombrero, holding a bag of oranges. The new mascot will be named Chewy and he will delight the crowd at Qualcomm Stadium by doing the Mexican hat dance during timeouts.  I mean, if a racial slur is okay for Washington, why can't the other NFL teams capitalize on the craze.

"Redskin" is cited in many dictionaries as a racial slur, similar to "nigger" or "kike." It is a completely offensive name that needs to be changed. Tradition be damned, we all know the ugly history of our country.

In the 1950's, it was socially acceptable for schools to deny admission to a black student. It was permissible to have all-white restaurants, drinking fountains and toilets. In the 1800's, it was perfectly fine to slaughter thousands of Native Americans because we decided we wanted their land. Oh, and there was that one time we had black folks plow land and pick cotton. They loved working in the sun so much! All that vitamin D was wonderful for them. At one time, we did all kinds of reprehensible things to minorities that no one thought was wrong. Times change.

It doesn't start or end with the Washington Redskins. The Cleveland Indians Chief Wahoo is the most offensive logo in professional sports. The giant red-faced Indian with a goofy smile is racist as hell. It always has been -- we have just chosen to sweep that fact under the rug.

Activist groups would speak up against any other racial slur that was being used as a team mascot. It just feels like racism has always been acceptable towards Native Americans. It has always baffled me. Perhaps the Native American population is too small in the country, perhaps they do not have a recognizable face in the public (a la Al Sharpton).that will speak up on their behalf.  Either way, the Redskins name needs to go. So does Chief Wahoo. It is not about being politically correct: it is about treating everyone with respect and dignity, regardless of race.

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