There might be a large group of Latinos out there that are familiar with what’s going in Washington D.C., and no I’m not talking about immigration reform, or should I say the lack thereof. I’m talking about the National Football League’s (NFL) football team, the Washington Redskins, who call DC their home.
For years now, civil rights, education, athletic, and academic advocacy groups have claimed that the professional football’s team mascot is a way of ethnic stereotyping and should be changed.
The NFL’s and Redskins’ rebuttal to these claims is that the team and mascot are being represented in a respectful and positive manner, and that it honors the Native American tribe and their achievements. They say there’s no need to remove the mascot.
The consensus among the Native American community is that the name is racist, ridiculous, and should be removed. Even the United Nations (UN) has made their displeasure with the Redskins name, publically saying the team name is a “hurtful reminder” to Native Americans.
Even recently, an open letter signed from 50 U.S. Senators was sent to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell asking for a name change.
So with all this support behind changing the team’s name, it seems like an easy move for the DC football team and the NFL, right? Wrong.
The fight for the Redskins’ name change has been going on for years now, and ultimately, if the NFL and the Redskins organization feels like keeping the name is the best thing to do, then that’s exactly what’s going to happen.
I understand that the Redskins’ mascot and team history is in no way implying any form of stereotyping or displaying racism in any way. The term redskin was first used in the 1800s, and was originally used by Europeans to describe the Native Americans they were attempting to communicate with.
But the fact of the matter is that nowadays, it is wrong in our society.
Let’s put this into perspective. If there were a team that was named the Washington Blackskins, referring to African-Americans, or Washington Brownskins, referring to Latinos, or Washington Yellowskins, referring to Asians, there would not even be a debate about changing the mascots name.
The Washington Redskins and the NFL need to do the right thing and change the mascot’s name because this isn’t an issue that is going away any time soon.
Being a Latino man, I wouldn’t want any sports franchise, business, organization or entity that generates money, using a derogatory term that referenced my culture and heritage. The NFL needs to step up and put pressure on the Washington Redskins organization and force them to change the mascots name. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is quick to fine players for saying or doing the improper thing, but hasn’t kept team organizations and owners with the same level of accountability.
Roberto Valdez is the Executive Director of Latino Giant Sports. Roberto graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in Communications with a minor in Media Analysis. Mr. Valdez is a social media, marketing and public relations consultant for numerous organizations in the Washington DC area and Arizona. He is also a sports strategist for high school, college and professional level teams.