By Lyndsey Kelly
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America
WASHINGTON, D.C., United States of America - The editorial board of the Washington Post has decided to no longer use the word “Redskins” when referring to Washington’s professional football team in opinion articles. The board stated that the term degrades Native Americans and was the reasoning behind their decision.
Washington Post’s editorial board operates separately from the news staff and controls only the paper’s opinion pages. The Post’s newsgathering side will continue to use the Redskins name.
The Post’s editorial board stated, “We have decided that, except when it is essential for clarity or effect, we will no longer use the slur ourselves,” and continued to state, “that’s the standard we apply to all offensive vocabulary, and the team name unquestionably offends not only many Native Americans but many other Americans, too.” The board also made it a point to state that it did not think that fans who supported the team’s name had racist feelings towards Native Americans.
Opposition to the name has been extant since the 1960’s. However, the campaign has recently taken off as a result of efforts made by the Oneida Indian Nation. Ray Halbritter, the representative of the New York State tribe, and Jacqueline Pata, the executive director of the National Congress of American Indians calls the Post’s decision, “appropriate and honorable.”
The owner of the Washington Redskins, Daniel Snyder, who bought the team in 1999, has refused to change the name, and says that he honors Native Americans. Roger Goodell, the NFL Commissioner and a group of Redskins players have voiced their support for Snyder’s opposition to change the team’s name. Snyder has come under pressure from U.S. Senators, journalists, newspapers, and the President to change the team’s name.
In June, the U.S. patent office cancelled six of the trademarks belonging to the Redskins, due to their finding that the team name is a slur against Native Americans, thus making it ineligible for trademark protection. The team has decided to appeal the patent office’s decision, which would ultimately force the franchise to drop the team’s name.
For information, please see the following:
BBC – Washington Post Editorial Board abandons ‘Redskins’ – 22 August 2014.
NEW YORK TIMES - Washington Post Editorial Board No Longer Using Word ‘Redskins’ - 22 August 2014.