Over the past few years pressure has been building on Daniel Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins, to change that team’s name. This pressure has been brought on by a wide array of people and groups. Sports journalists Bill Simmons and Peter King have boycotted the name, as has news host Rachel Maddow. The Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation from California bought airtime to play the ad “Proud to Be”:
Most recently, the United States Patent Office has revoked the trademark of the team’s name because:
“the term ‘Redskins’ was disparaging of Native Americans, when used in relation to professional football services, at the times the various registrations involved in the cancellation proceeding were issued.”
As I was listening to the ins and outs of this story on talk radio, I found myself saying, “What’s the big deal?” “This isn’t hurting Native Americans in any material way.” “Here are the thought police again.” “The government has no right to interfere in the business of the Washington Redskins.”
And then yesterday, as I was getting off the elevator in my apartment building, I spoke to a couple to my right, then turned to my left to do the same to a young girl. She quickly averted her eyes and looked down when my face turned towards hers. Then I remembered why many Native Americans would want this name changed.