A demonstration against the racial slur at the Minneapolis Vikings’ stadium in November 2014. Victory came Monday, July 13th, after decades of protest by Native Americans. (Flickr CC/Fibonacci Blue)
Dan Snyder, owner of the National Football League’s Washington D.C. franchise, notoriously said in 2013 that he would “never change the name” of the Washington Redskins. Well, the roar got louder, and the team announced Monday that it is rescinding the offensive name and logo. The new name has not been released.
The team issued a statement:
“Today, we are announcing that we will be retiring the Redskins name and logo upon completion of this review. 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.”
The decision comes after multibillion-dollar sponsors of the NFL team challenged its use of a racial slur against Native Americans. FedEx issued the team an ultimatum — drop the name or we’ll pull our sponsorship and stadium signage — after 87 investment firms worth a collective $620 million sent letters to FedEx, Nike and PepsiCo imploring the sponsors to end their support for the perpetuation of the marginalization and reduction of Native Americans to a racist nickname and mascot.
As Native Business Executive Editor Carmen Davis states in her recent Letter From the Editor,
If we can be denigrated and reduced to a stereotype and dumbed down to a character, then we’ve lost control of every conversation and how we enter it. When we demand the takedown of derogatory names, when we refuse to be marginalized by a racial slur or image, we reclaim our narrative. When we reclaim how we’re portrayed, we empower a better future for Indian Country and this entire nation.
The removal of the racist slur from the stadium, marketing and promotions, jerseys, merchandise, etc., is setting off a wave of change across the country. Now Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians have also pledged to reevaluate their name, as the team’s manager acknowledged, “It’s time to move forward.”