Friday, September 18, 2009

"It's like putting Aunt Jemima on a helmet"; Terribly-named NFL franchise still not Banned in DC

Is a Glen E. Friedman photo credit really necessary here? I mean, really.

People, you know how sometimes you're sitting in your car at the stoplight, or you're in bed, waking up in the morning and the sunlight is filtering through your blinds, and you have a moment where you realize something you had forgotten for a few days or weeks? My moments like this go: Holy shit/Jesus Christ/hold up, Americuh has a superhero BLACK MAN at the helm? Disbelief washes over. And then you add like 7 exclamation points and that sums up how I feel. Also meeting the "hold up/holyshit/I just realized again" criterion: all of us standing on the earth while it floats in space (Wayne Coyne, what uuup), my baby brother all of a sudden being all grown up and smart and handsome and tall, and the fact that we still have uniformed humans hand-delivering pieces of paper to boxes in front of our house or slots in our front doors. It's so Little House on the Prairie.

Today Bill Plaschke in the LA Times reminded me of another one of these moments - that there's totally an NFL team called the Redskins. FOR REALS. I'm a football dork and even I forget this sometimes. The Redskins. 1) Yikes, 2) Ouch, and let's not forget 3) Cringe. I'm pretty sure the fact that they exist, with that awful awful name, is what powered LT's breaking of Joe Theismann's tibia into various smaller pieces while America watched on TV in '85. God was smiting Joe for playing for a team called the REDSKINS. Evil does not go unpunished. Oh, and rudeness and stupidity also. God does not care for rude and stupid.

The NFL is a big ol mess of moral contradictions and Roger Goodell wants so badly to play both Mean Dad (I know you already served your punishment by the courts, Mike Vick, but I don't want you playing in my league for a year or two) and Nice Dad (since you personally apologized to me, Mike Vick, you can play again. It has nothing to do with TV ratings or selling tickets and I resent the implication.). But still - the name Redskins is such an obvious slice of unkind American historical ethnic dealings (the team was named in 1933; it's not a tribute to native people's noble ways), it's shocking if you stop and think about it. I don't know, it just seems like it would've been changed a while ago. Like 10 miles from where President Dreamboat runs the world, sleeps, and glows with the warm light of a thousand smiling children, there's a multi-million-dollar organization in Landover with an obscenely racist name. It seems like it would be otherwise at this point in our collective time. Annnd there I go with my adorable naivete again.
How does a team from the nation's capital, supported by a fan base of some of the nation's greatest thinkers, maintain a nickname that is the Native American equivalent to the N-word?


It is the worst thing in the English language you can be called if you are a native person, said Suzan Shown Harjo, the lead plaintiff in one of the most compelling lawsuits in sports history...Harjo's Native American public policy group challenges that, now and then, the trademark name Redskins violates the Lanham Act, which bars trademarks that disparage people living or dead.

disparaging trademark would be one that, oh let's see if I can come up with a good example, insults an entire group of people by describing them according to flesh color and ignoring the fact that the description of their flesh is heavy with racist history punctuated by geographical displacement and mass rapes and murders. You know, just off the top of my head.)

The NFL and the Redskins counter with an argument citing that the word "Redskin" actually refers to the red paint used on the skin of Indian warriors (EL OH EL, NFL and Redskins ownership! It appears that you think the NFL-watching public is replete with morons whose eyes you can pull the cliched wool over). Tradition- and football-loving people really clutch the name close to their bosom and never ever want it to change, even though numerous other hideous/insulting Indian mascots have already been changed in college sports and nobody died or even went to the hospital as a result. It's gonna be OK if the Redskins have to change their name, fellow football dorks. Deep breaths.

Amazing, isn't it, how the sports world demands civility and good conduct only as long as it doesn't get in the way of tradition? When it comes to Native American mascots, insensitivity dies especially hard. Wordemup, Plaschke. This lady blogger hears you loud and/or clear. You're well on your way to making it to my Writers Who I Am Going Steady With list.

The name can be changed. The name should be changed. There is not a bigger certifiable slur in sports. There is nothing even close.

And don't even try to compare this to the Fighting Irish, OK?

If you saw a Native American on the street, would you call that person a redskin?

It's like putting Aunt Jemima on a helmet.

The NFL stands by the team and has paid the bulk of the Redskins' legal fees. It's a cornerstone franchise in the league and everybody knows tradition trumps treating people respectfully, dumb dumbs! The worst part about the whole thing is that I bet you Goodell has no idea how ironic it is that he has a dream-catcher hanging from the rearview mirror in his S-class.

In other news,
I just wrote a sentence that had both "rapes" and "murders" in it, and I wasn't joking. Seriousness was the move for this post, but I'm ready to change gears. And now for some mp3 goodness (related to the post's topic, of course) to make the pain go away!:

Bad Brains are from DC. Wale's from DC. Duke Elllington too. But why would I post any of that when Chuck Brown is also from DC and his sonic benevolence is available electronically for us to take part in? Let me remind you that I ALWAYS feel like bustin' loose, you guys. Always.

Hit it, Chuck.

Chuck Brown and his amazing cadre of DC go-go-ness that the Lou failed at imitating - "Bustin' Loose." (Nelly was right about one thing, though. Good gracious, ass is bodacious)



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