Opinion | Sports

Opinion: Eliminating NFL team's racist mascot is just the start

The logo for the Change the Mascot campaign

Writer says the debate over the Washington NFL team's racist mascot should lead to a discussion of other issues facing Indian Country:
The debate surrounding the Redskins name is an important one. As our country becomes more diverse, it’s critical that we don’t condone the use of racial epithets regardless of how long they’ve represented a team. But when you look at the state of native nations in the U.S., it’s clear that the national dialogue about the Redskins name is too narrowly focused on a symbolic victory over real progress. Against the backdrop of crippling challenges facing Native Americans, why are we spending countless hours debating the name of a football team?

The answer is simple, but disheartening. Unlike the easy outrage sparked by the Redskins name, the complex web of social ills weighing on the Native American community are difficult to boil down into a cohesive narrative that grabs the attention of the national psyche.

For one, you can’t address Native Americans as a single bloc. There are more than 560 federally recognized tribes and dozens of unrecognized ones. So, the challenges in dealing with sexual assault or substance abuse in the Yupik Eskimo village — an Alaskan community accessible only by boat or plane – are very different from those of the Pascua Yaqui tribe of Arizona. With no singular Native American experience, their plight can’t be easily addressed as a collective.

Get the Story:
Robert O'Donnell: Stop congratulating yourself for opposing the Redskins’ name. You’re not helping the real problem. (The Washington Post 9/17)

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