R*dskins and The Right Side of History

[Good chance you're going to have me 'round these parts for the rest of, or at least a greater part, of this week. Sit back, shut the *CENSORED* up, have a Coke and smile. -PJ]

Cooper-N-Word600I live in Washington, DC. This is no secret to anybody. Well living where I live and working where I work places me in the epicenter of some of the greatest and most non-sensical moments in current U.S. history.

We recently witnessed the dumbest stand we’ve all been privy to in a long time regarding the closing of the federal government due to what effectivley became the nuts running the nuthouse in the Republican party’s far right extremist camps. Here’s the thing about taking a stand…it only seems smart if you win. Once you lose, wholesale (at least for the time being), you become less “right” and more obstructionist. I’m glad all federal employees are getting back pay, because 1. I’m a fed; and 2. It turned that dumb stance against Obamacare into a nearly 3 week paid vacation, which amounts to losing ground in polls, in the coffers, and effectively, America. America is blaming Republicans for this recent kerfluffle and that’s where the blame goes.

See, at some point, they had to realize that they were going to lose that battle. Sometimes, you have to adjust your version of right to reflect the times you live in, reasoning be damned. This was the case with same-sex marriage and its ever increasing reach across the country. No point in delaying the inevitable. At some point, same-sex marriage will be legal no matter how you feel about it. Why stay on the wrong side of history? Same thing with the civil rights movement and the Internet and music sharing. Everything with any type of traction reaches a tipping point. Smart people realize it and don’t stop it from happening. You may not like it, but once that snowball gets moving, its moving.So why get in the way?

Such brings me to my point. Again, I live in Washington, DC. And yes, I’m a Washington Redskins fan. And yes, they should change the name. Dan Snyder, a man with very few supporters as it is amongst the populace, is firm in his reluctance to change the name from something we can all agree is a racial slur, even if the vast majority of persons not of Native American descent couldn’t care less.

I remember having a conversation about this in my office one day. People were debating why they should change the name if most people aren’t concerned and don’t find it offensive (I believe “80 percent of Native Americans polled don’t care” was quoted). My response was and still is, if its a word you wouldn’t call a Native American as to his face, then it’s offensive. Nobody in their right mind would walk up to a Native American and call him a redskin. My grandmother was a Native American and I wouldn’t call her that. I haven’t called Liz that for that reason (though I’ve called her an injun, I’m working on myself). It was a slur back in the day and its a slur now. One of the early owners of the Redskins, George Preston Marshall,  was a known racist and happy as hell about it. He even allegedly ( I can’t find corroborating data) stated that none of the money left in his will could go towards advancing civil rights. You were some kind of  jackass if that is true, Mr. Marshall.

Back in 1933 when the team was changed from the Boston Braves to the Boston Redskins (they moved to DC in 1937), I’m guessing nobody really cared if the word was a slur or not. Or could be viewed as such. It’s 2013 now. We don’t tend to play that, and yet we STILL have a team named after a racial slur that might not ever change.

Honestly, at some point, I just don’t understand the reluctance to change. Let’s say Snyder’s pride is the culprit here. Nobody can make him change anything, why not just make a damn change for the goodwill of the league and take the graceful way out. The fanbase is loyal. You get a whole slew of sales and thus profit due to merchandising. I can’t really see the downside. The history of the team is still in tact and we still have RGIII. I can’t for the life of me understand why the folks in power don’t see the writing on the wall. Even if Snyder manages to keep the team name for as long as he is alive, it will change at some point. Why not be the one to make the change to receive some of the goodwill he’s so severely lacking. Folks hate Dan Snyder. Hell, change the name to Indians so we can have a real Cowboys vs Indians fight on our hands when Dallas comes a callin’.

To be real, I’m kind of surprised that names like Indians, Braves, and Seminoles still manage to be okay, but I suppose as long as its not a slur, you can name yourself after a group of people. I guess. Me no know. I’d half love to see a team called the African-Americans or the Latinos just to see if that held water.

Point is though, the ‘Skins should change their name because well, its the right thing to do. Why keep fighting a battle that you’re losing and you know it. There’s no glory in being the last man standing unless you’re battling for honor, and even, then if there’s still opposition, you’re going to die. A coward may die a thousand deaths and a soldier may die but one…but holding fast to something that is dumb to fight over doesn’t make your death honorable.

I’m guessing this is a rich, powerful man/person thing, because only those who think they’re above all believe that the writing on the wall doesn’t include them.

To that end, they’re still the Washington Redskins, but I just tell my daughter to call them the Football team.

History is a cold b*tch. Some of these folks would be smart to respect her and how she’ll write their stories. But until then…

…at least we’re not the Giants.



Once upon at time  not long ago, I stumbled upon a most interesting conversation. This was a conversation being held by three white guys who worked with me. They were talking about welfare and how America needed to add the stigma back to the use of the welfare system. One of the gentlemen made it a point to note that anybody who needed public assistance was somebody who just needed to work harder. You know, coming into the game on some modeling sh*t.

These guys kept going in more and more until I, at one point, joined into the fray by letting them know that I was the child of a mother who was a recipient of welfare and food stamps and that her need for help didn’t diminish the type of person she was as a human being. Of course, the guys immediately dispersed the conversation with one levying a, “sorry if I offended anybody” missive in my general direction. I told him to do what he does and to keep it moving. I also nearly went into the co-worker’s office to let him know that there were no hard feelings and that he’s subject to his opinions. Then I thought better and realized that…

…sometimes white people need to be made to feel uncomfortable. It would seem that questionable decision-making and messed up ideologies run rampant. So I ran Forrest ran. I’ve noticed, even within myself, that at times I have attempted to make people feel better about the ridiculous things that they have said so as not to breed confrontation. And yo, son, yo that is wack, yo. But you know, this same thing plays out across racial and gender lines.  For instance…

…the name of the Washington Redskins. I had a lengthy convo with a coworker about this phenomenon. While I’m generally indifferent to the name of the Deadskins, the arguments that I’ve heard about why using the word and likeness wasn’t a bad thing were effectively, “It’s the Redskins. Period. Get over it.”  But here’s the better question: if anybody were to actually see an injun in the streets, would they call them a “redskin?” Probably not. I had this same argument with my coworker that got pretty hardcore at times. And again, I didn’t want him to feel guilty for thinking the name was okay and I was all prepared to go into his office to  let him know that there were no hard feelings.

But again, maybe he needed to know that what he said hit a nerve.

See, in my attempts to attempt to make these folks feel better, I would have lost my own perspective and encouraged them to go further with the completely jacked up lines of thinking. But the really real is that ever so often, somebody needs to be totally checked about the attitude they bring to the table, especially in a room with one Black guy who hears it all. Every now and then I feel like it is my duty to call out somebody else’s views. And sometimes, they just need to be uncomfortable.

While that’s as far as the challenge tends to go, it does all the service we need at that point to further the cause of race relations in this country (I’d use Canada too but you know they have beady little eyes and big flopping heads….haaaaaaaaay boo). I’m fairly positive that my coworker didn’t change his opinion about the welfare system based on the fact that he actually knows who happened to have lived in some less than stellar surroundings from age 3-6.  But he got a different perspective from me in such a way that he might at the very least refrain from speaking pure f*ckery into existence next time. Killa Cam.

Anyway, folks of VSB, have you ever intentionally made somebody (and by somebody I generally mean white people) else uncomfortable after speaking up about a jacked up opinion? Do you think they cared? Why do we park on driveways and drive on parkways? Did the minor check change the way they speak to or with you? Basically, does everybody need to feel a little bit of discomfort at some point??