I keep seeing jokes and memes about what Black Lives Matter activists are asking for versus what they’re actually getting. Activists want heavily militarized police forces to be defunded, they want killer cops to be arrested and prosecuted, they want smarter community policing and for systemic, institutional racism to be dismantled. What they’re getting is a bunch of TV shows hiding their “blackface” episodes, Breonna Taylor’s murderers going unarrested, and… this. NFL sponsors standing up to the Washington football team and forcing the team’s owners into renaming the team, which currently goes by a racist slur. I mean, it’s good news. But it’s depressing that it’s taken this long and it’s depressing that it took this much to convince the owners that in 2020, no one should be using a racist word for Native Americans as an NFL team name.
The Washington Redskins are no more. After mounting pressure for the NFL team to change its name — which has a history as a racial slur against Native Americans — the franchise announced it will do so on Monday.
“On July 3, we announced the commencement of a thorough review of the team’s name,” the statement read. “That review has begun in earnest. As part of this process, we want to keep our sponsors, fans and community apprised of our thinking as we go forward.”
“Today, we are announcing we will be retiring the Redskins name and logo upon completion of this review,” it continued. “[Owner] Dan Snyder and Coach Rivera are working closely to develop a new name and design approach that will enhance the standing of our proud, tradition-rich franchise and inspire our sponsors, fans and community for the next 100 years.”
I actually believe FedEx deserves a lot of credit for this. FedEx became the sponsor of the Washington team in 1999, and they have six more years on their contract with the team. FedEx was the company which got the ball rolling and said that they would withdraw their sponsorship unless the team was renamed. Other sponsors followed, in what seemed like a coordinated effort, and I’m guessing that the effort was coordinated by FedEx.
Anyway, all the team is doing now is announcing that they will no longer go by the racist term, but they don’t have a new name yet. I still say they should go for an animal name rather than a Washington-special name, like the Generals or Monuments or whatever. They should be the Washington Meerkats, Washington Elephants or Washington Gophers – something which will inspire cute merch.
— Washington Redskins (@Redskins) July 13, 2020
Photos courtesy of Getty.