A protest against the Washington NFL team's racist mascot. Photo: Confrontational Media
Opinion | Sports

Ezra Rosser: NFL team's racist trademarks sanctioned by our highest court

A ruling from the nation's highest court has prompted the young Native activists who were fighting the Washington NFL team's racist trademarks to drop their legal battle. But does that excuse fans who continue to wear the team's gear? Law professor Ezra Rosser, a non-Indian who grew up on the Navajo Nation, weighs in:
I grew up in a small part on the Navajo Nation, though I am a non-Indian. When I moved to Washington, D.C. more than a decade ago, I was shocked by the amount of Redskins paraphernalia I saw all around me. It hasn’t gotten less shocking with time. If anything, progress that has been made nationwide on gay rights, the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the attention to gender pay inequality over the past 10 years has made me even more aware that surprisingly little has changed when it comes to the most offensive logo in professional sports. People like to focus on Redskins’ owner Dan Snyder and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, making the logo about their decisions and not about the collective decision to continue to support such racist imagery.

The fact that the Supreme Court is now likely to quietly permit the Redskins trademark does not tell me what type of person I am dealing with, but their choice to put on a Redskins baseball hat certainly does. Ten years ago I would chalk up many of the t-shirts, sweatshirts, and hats to ignorance of the problematic aspects of the logo. But then, for a brief moment, there was a lot of organization by Indian leaders, including those from the National Congress of American Indians and the Oneida Indian Nation of New York, aimed highlighting the racism of the logo. Now when I see the logo—on a helmet sitting in my favorite restaurant, on the hat of my son’s physical education teacher, or plastered on the back of cars across the greater D.C. area—I know ignorance is not the explanation. Instead, the choice to sport the logo can only be attributed to indifference or racism and is most accurately a combination of both.

Read More on the Story:
Ezra Rosser: What Allowing the Redskins Trademark Says and Doesn’t Say (Indian Country Media Network 7/29)

U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Matal v. Tam:
Syllabus | Opinion [Alito] | Concurrence [Kennedy] | Concurrence [Thomas]

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Cronkite News: Navajo activist vows fight against racist NFL mascot (June 20, 2017)
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