When something isn’t particularly offensive to you, it can become easy to stand on the wrong side of public opinion. Everyone else is there with you. They look like you. You must be right.
I remember when I was younger and using the term ‘gay’ to make fun of people was the norm. ‘OMG, that’s so gay,’ would be thrown around, our young minds completely oblivious to what it meant. As I grew up and realized the undertone of what I was actually saying, I immediately removed the term from my speech, along with a few others.
However, when a term isn’t widely used as derogatory and when you only know it as the name of a professional sports team, for many people, it becomes difficult to understand where the line needs to be drawn.
I’ve never used it as a slur. I didn’t even know it was classified as a slur until a few years ago. Apparently, the NFL team associated with it doesn’t mean any offense. No harm done, amiright?
Washington fans, including many of my friends, are downright enraged when I ask them about the potential name change. They quote the ten-year-old Annenberg poll where it found that “90% of Native Americans are not bothered by the name Redskins.”
Let me show you how this poll would have gone down with me in 2004:
Poller: “Are you Native American?”
Me, a white girl: Laughs and explains that my Dad traced us back to Pocahontas.
Poller: “Do you find the Washington Redskins name offensive?”
Me: “I don’t think so.”
Poller: “Thank you.” Hangs up.
I am now a part of the 90% of Native Americans who are not bothered by the name Redskins. That was only one of the many problems with this poll.
Even if the Annenberg poll was completely accurate and representative of the Native American population, I personally am not comfortable with even 10% of Native Americans believing Redskin is a slur and the rest of us not doing anything to stop it. So it’s not offensive to all you white people out there wearing your $100 Redskins jersey? That’s just fucking great.
“But it’s been our name since 1933!” they yell.
Yeah, you’ve also had 12 different uniforms, 10 logos, and 5 different stadiums in 2 cities. You also changed your name once before. Remember? Thanks to the Daily Show for that.
Let’s keep it simple. Just because it is offensive to only a small portion of our population does not justify its use in our language. You know those slurs you wouldn’t touch with a 100-foot pole? You’re getting uncomfortable just thinking about them, aren’t you?
The term Redskin should be in the same category as those. Period. The sooner everyone understands that and realizes they’re supporting a goddamn football team instead of their fellow Americans, the better.
Until then, you’re the Washington Pigskins to me.