Episcopal Diocese of Washington

Engaging a changing world with
an enduring faith in Jesus Christ

History of DC's Football Team Name Undeniably Racist

October 31, 2014

I am a football fan, and I realized last Monday as the game against Dallas went into overtime that I had become a Washington fan. Having lived in Minnesota for 18 years and raised two sons there, my team loyalties didn't shift overnight. Now, as Washington prepares to play the Vikings, my old hometown team, I feel myself in the familiar bind of a fan whose two favorite teams are playing one another.

But I also feel my anger rising. If I were in Minneapolis this weekend, I would be joining the pre-game protests of Native Americans and their allies who are rightfully appalled by the name of my new hometown team.

Just as one cannot live in Washington, D. C. without appreciating how every city block has a history tied to the struggle for freedom and justice for African Americans, one can't live in Minnesota without realizing that every acre has a story connected to the Native American tribes whose forebears once lived on that land.

How could the name of Washington’s team not be offensive to those who know that there was once a $200 reward for every "redskin" killed in U. S. territories? Can you imagine our nation tolerating a sports team with the name, once normative in public discourse, which we now never speak because we have finally acknowledged the offense it causes to African Americans?

I therefore add my voice to the growing chorus of people calling upon Dan Snyder, owner of my hometown football team, to change its name.

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