Opinion | Sports

Ray Halbritter: Racist football mascot slanders Native people

Ray Halbritter, the federally-recognized representative of the Oneida Nation of New York, addresses the racist mascot of the Washington professional football team:
If you are not the target of a racial slur, it is easy to wonder why that slur is a problem. In fact, because you, your children and your community don't have to deal with the consequences of the slur, it is easy to claim that those who don't want to be targeted are just interested in "political correctness." It is also easy to believe that a call to end the use of a derogatory epithet is somehow an unacceptable affront to you, rather than what it really is: a heartfelt request to stop the destructive hate that causes so much pain.

This, of course, summarizes the ongoing controversy over the Washington NFL team's continued use of the R-word as its name, decades after famed segregationist George Preston Marshall gave the team that moniker. Despite the R-word being a dictionary-defined racial slur, the team's ownership insists that the league should continue promoting an epithet that was screamed at Native Americans as we were dragged at gunpoint off of our homelands. In the ownership's view, a pathological desire to continue slandering Native people should be a bigger priority than honoring any sense of mutual respect.

Because we personally experience the serious public health and cultural ramifications of such systemic disparagement, the Oneida Indian Nation disagrees. That is why as proud sponsors of the NFL, we have launched the "Change the Mascot" campaign asking the league to change the Washington team's name.

Get the Story:
Ray Halbritter: Washington's Football Team Isn't Entitled to Slander Native People (US News & World Report 10/30)

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