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Washington’s NFL team should change its name and logo because ‘Redskins’ is a racist epithet, a panel of sports writers, scholars, and Native Americans said on Thursday during a symposium on racial stereotypes in college and pro sports at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.
The controversy over the Redskins’ name and logo is not new, of course. For years critics have attempted to persuade the team to dump the name. The panelists called on the public to refrain from even using the name in order to send a message to team owner Daniel Snyder.
“I can only imagine what it would be like to be at a football game at FedEx Field in a crowd of closer to 90,000 people all screaming at the top of their lungs when what they are screaming is a racial slur,” said D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff.
“The football team has become a symbol of our legitimacy as a community,” she added, emphasizing the need to change the name to something that better represents the district’s diversity.
The Redskins have long defended their name by claiming it honors Indian heritage, but the panelists argued that reasoning is not convincing when the people who are supposed to feel honored are instead asking the team to change its name.
“No professional team have ever changed its Indian-themed nickname,” said Erik Brady, a USA Today sports writer, who said Redskins is the most egregious.
“The other names in other contexts are not offensive. This one, except when applied to potatoes, always is,” Brady joked in a moment of levity before an audience of several hundreds people inside the museum’s auditorium.
“Find it in the dictionary and you’ll find ‘redskin’ described as disparaging and offensive,” he added.
Washington Post sports columnist Mike Wise predicted that during his lifetime he expects the team to finally agree to changes its name.
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