Redskins fans have long dealt with outsiders admonishing the team’s nickname for being racially insensitive and offensive. It’s nothing new and it certainly won’t go away. After losing in the playoffs, Courtland Milloy knew what he had to do. Call out all fans of the team and blame the loss on karma.
Below is my response to Milloy’s column terrible attack on the Redskins franchise, the team, and fans.
[Bold text is Milloy’s words, plain text is mind]
So, Washington football fans, how’s that offensive team name and demeaning sports mascot working out? Whooping and hollering as RGIII goes on a “Redskins” warpath only to leave a trail of tears when his wounded knee gets buried at FedEx Field.
Yup, the reason the Redskins lost to the Seahawks on Sunday wasn’t because of the Seahawks defense selling out on the run because of a hobbled Griffin, the terrible turf at FedEx Field, suspect tackling by the defense, or even RGIII tearing his ACL . It’s because we’re all racists. Yeah, that’s the reason they lost. Good use of the “trail of tears” though, because football, forced relocation have so much in common.
In this obscene home team sports fantasy, the gifted Robert Griffin III was reduced to a “noble savage.” Let the “Redskin” play hurt. He can take it. Hail to the young brave-hearted quarterback as he limps into battle on that injured knee. Three cheers as he fights on his one good leg for Old D.C.
And when he’s felled during Sunday’s playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks, bringing the postseason to an ugly and immensely unsatisfying end — torn ligaments no doubt shortening his own career as well — Washington gasps in horror.
Bad karma, I tell you, that team name.
THE SPORTS GODS HAVE NOTICED OUR SINS AND REIGNED DOWN HELL AND FIRE UPON US. RUN FOR COVER. Clearly a higher power has reached down upon the field in Landover and ripped Griffin’s anterior cruciate ligament. That’ll show ’em!
Now don’t go trying to prove otherwise by digging up some ancient Washington victory from back in, say, Joe Gibbs’s early days. This is a new era. Attitudes are changing; progressive thinking is emerging on everything from guns, gays and gas guzzling to debt, deficits and doctor bills.
So supposedly being racist was all well and good in the ’80s and ’90s, but God totally changed his mind on that. He’s a progressive now. He realizes it’s a different time. He went to some seminar that totally blew his mind and he had a change of heart. He decided enough was enough: Let’s blow out Griffin’s knee.
Besides, Washington’s professional football team has raked up one disappointing season after another since 1992 — the year D.C. resident Suzan Harjo became the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking to change the team’s disparaging name.
Although Harjo lost that legal battle on a technicality, a group of younger Native Americans have filed a similar lawsuit — Blackhor se et al v. Pro-Football, Inc. Justice may yet be served.
Because if the justice system won’t rule in our favor, we’ll go to a higher power to seek retribution.
“The term ‘redskins’ is the most vile and offensive term used to describe Native Americans,” Harjo told the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in 2011. “It is most disturbing to the overwhelming majority of Native Americans throughout the country that the professional football team in the nation’s capital uses a team name that demeans us.”
Does anyone really believe that the name “Redskins” will survive the 21st century? Other than the people who probably thought white actors in blackface would survive the 20th? The genocide of Native peoples, like America’s other original sin, slavery, cannot be forever masked with caricatures of the dead.
Like the Trail of Tears analogy you used earlier? You may have been trying to illustrate a point, but damn, you’re doing the same thing you admonish.
Next month, on Feb. 7, the National Museum of the American Indian on the Mall will hold a day-long symposium and “community conversation” about the use of racist stereotypes and cultural appropriation in American sports. In a recent news release about the event, museum Director Kevin Gover wrote: “What better place to address this issue. . . . The Smithsonian Institution is the ideal forum to bring people together to ask tough questions.”
I hope so, although I suspect that the most diehard football fans have only two ways of dealing with these kinds of disagreements: racist Internet comments — and fistfights in the stands.
Because those are the only forms of reason football fans cling to. We’re all racists that can’t sit down and have a serious and frank conversation about what many call our racially insensitive team moniker. We’ll never do that, because us racist football fans don’t know how, SO WHY TALK WHEN WE CAN JUST GO KICK SOME ASS, YOU GUYS!
For those who claim that “Redskins” is an honorific to Native peoples, as team owner Dan Snyder does, representatives from several Indian nations will be on hand to tell you what they really think about that name. By the way, while Washington was weighed down with that tired old caricature of an Indian head on their helmets, Seattle was sporting a lighthearted Seahawk based on an ancient Northwest Coast Native carved totem design. They didn’t just score more touchdowns; they won on style points, too.
So the final score wasn’t 24-14? How many style points shall you award to the Seahawks, Mr. Milloy? 10? 15? Man, a 39-14 game sure sounds like a blowout. They got soundly beaten then, huh? And it’s all because of that racist name and karma. Gotcha.
The subject of the “community conversation” will be, you guessed it, the name of Washington’s professional football team. It should be quite lively. The moderator will be Philip J. Deloria of the Standing Rock Sioux, an associate dean of undergraduate education at the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts and author of the books “Playing Indian” and “Indians in Unexpected Places.”
He will be joined by Judith Bartnoff, deputy presiding judge of the District of Columbia Superior Court’s Civil Division; the Rev. Graylan Hagler of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ and former president of Ministers for Racial, Social and Economic Justice; Robert I. Holden, deputy director of the National Congress of American Indians; Erik Brady, a sports reporter for USA Today; and my Washington Post colleague, sports columnist Mike Wise.
Ok, now Milloy just sounds like he’s doing PR for this symposium. I get it now.
Take your children to the event. Then ask them if the name “Redskins” is offensive. Better still, ask yourself.