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NFL’s battle against racism can start with Redskins’ name | READER COMMENTARY

The National Football League wants to fight racism. Could this be enough to force a name change on the Washington Redskins?
The National Football League wants to fight racism. Could this be enough to force a name change on the Washington Redskins? (Nick Wass / Associated Press)

These are tumultuous times. The recorded asphyxiation of a black man by a white police officer has energized a diverse group of protesters and served as a call to action for many who had previously sat on the sidelines. Our society is now re-examining many of the divisive symbols of its history including the flag and monuments of the Confederacy. It was heartening to read Mike Preston’s commentary (“Ravens seem willing to take a lead role in struggle against racism,” June 10). Owner Steve Bisciotti and his wife Renee have pledged $1 million and the Ravens organization is taking concrete steps in the community to battle social injustice.

Perhaps Mr. Bisciotti can use his influence to convince fellow NFL owner Daniel Snyder to part ways with the antiquated Redskins name and logo. A University of Michigan/University of California, Berkeley study published in the February 2020 Journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science found that half of the more than 1,000 Native Americans surveyed found the team’s name offensive. In and of itself, that should be enough reason to change the 87-year-old moniker. It is time to retire this hurtful vestige of the past.

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I am certain that many of the protesters who attended the large rallies for social justice in Washington, D.C., are Redskins fans. I would encourage them to use social media and urge the ownership to change the name. Root hard for your team, but refuse to wear anything bearing the Redskins name or logo. Long overdue, the Cleveland Indians finally got rid of the garish Chief Wahoo logo after the 2018 season. Of note, 70% of players in the NFL are African American. Visiting the Redskins website, one encounters articles about how head coach Ron Rivera and several players plan to fight social injustice. It is incongruous to wear the Redskins name on your jersey while doing so.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently issued an apology from the NFL that it was wrong for not listening to its players and discouraging peaceful protest. I would also encourage Mr. Snyder to get on the proper side of history. He can be remembered as the owner who had the courage to do the right thing. Art Modell changed the franchise name for our now-Baltimore Ravens, allowing the Cleveland Browns to keep their name and history. Perhaps the football gods will be kind and reward Mr. Snyder with a Super Bowl championship or two as the team’s last such win was in 1992. From a purely economic standpoint, imagine all the revenue that the Washington football franchise can make selling new branded merchandise. It is wrong that a sports franchise representing our nation’s capital bears such a divisive and insensitive moniker.

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Now more than ever, with such a diverse group of Americans rallying against racial inequality, it is time to lose the Redskins name. As the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Eugene Wu, Sparks

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