Recently, the Washington City Paper announced their decision to stop using the word "Redskins," instead referring to the home team as the Pigskins or just 'Skins. We want to urge other media outlets to follow suit and work towards reducing the use of this racial slur.
We are a group of students from American University in Washington, DC currently enrolled in a course examining White Privilege and Social Justice. Living in a city that has so much influence on the world, we want to create the best community for everyone. As a native Washingtonian from a family of fans, this is an issue that has surrounded me since my fist Redskins onesie. I want to support my community without having to use a racial slur.
A Redskin is not a harmless name to cheer for, but an offensive racial slur against Native Americans. There are many legends as to how the team received its name. Some claim that it harkens back to it's roots in Boston, referring to the protestors of the colonial tea party who donned disguises as Native Americans to dump tea in the harbor. Another popular legend holds that the name was in honor of coach Lone Star Dietz, who claimed to be of Sioux heritage.
But the team name is no honor, does not elicit notions of bravery and fierce competition. It is unequivocally a damning term, referring to the scalps of the Native people of the United States, tokens of colonialism and genocide.
Hearing the term adds to the lack of positive and realistic images of Native Americans in culture. Without seeing Native Americans as they are today, its hard to talk about how modern issues affect their daily lives. Additionally, research by Fryberg and Watts confirmed the negative impact of these stereotypical images on Native American youth, who showed reduced self confidence when exposed to mascots. The media is a powerful tool for social change, creating the words and images that we all see as normal.
Please join this petition to urge WTOP to stop perpetuating this hateful speech. Maybe, if the community shows that they do not want to listen to racism it will put pressure on Dan Synder and Redskins management to consider their potential to become ambassadors for equality.
WTOP is a respected provider of news radio in the DC region. Each day thousands tune in to the "Glass Enclosed Nerve Center" as they venture around the Beltway. So many of the powerful decision makers in our city listen to the radio broadcasts from WTOP. Having an influential station publically commit to equality could raise awareness of the hateful speech.