The Washington Redskins have used their current nickname since taking the field as the "Boston Redskins" in the 1933 NFL season.
On Tuesday, 10 members of the United States Congress sent a letter to team owner Daniel Snyder to change his club's nickname from its current moniker, citing that the "R-word" is racist in this day and age and undermines efforts to empower Native American youth.
According to a report from Mike Jones of the Washington Post, Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, congressman for the American Samoa, distributed the release. He was joined by fellow members of the Congressional Native American Caucus including: Tom Cole (Oklahoma), Betty McCollum (Minnesota), Raul M. Grijalva (Arizona), Gwen Moore (Wisconsin), Michael M. Honda, Zoe Lofgren and Barbara Lee (California), Donna M. Christensen (Virgin Islands), and Eleanor Holmes Norton (District of Columbia).
Here's an excerpt from Jones' report:
The representatives sent similar letters to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and FedEx President and CEO Frederick Smith, and the owners of the NFL’s 31 other franchises.
In the letter, the representatives argued “Native Americans throughout the country consider the ‘R-word’ a racial, derogatory slur akin to the ‘N-word’ among African Americans or the ‘W-word’ among Latinos.
Such offensive epithets would no doubt draw wide-spread disapproval among the NFL’s fan base. Yet the national coverage of Washington’s NFL football team profits from a term that is equally disparaging to Native Americans.
Per Jones' report, the team did not have any comment on the letter.
The debate over the moral and personal responsibility for franchise owners to change the mascot name has been raging on for the better part of the last two decades.
Clarence Page of the Orlando Sentinel was one of the first reporters to speak out about the Redskins' name in 1992, noting that the American public would riot if the team was named the "Washington Negroes" or Washington Jews." However, not everyone sees "Redskin" as a racial epithet.
While Congress is now playing an active role in seeing the name changed for good, Snyder has maintained over the course of the last few public outcries over the name that he will not address a change in the team's mascot.
That includes May 9 of this year, when, according to Erik Brady of USA Today, Snyder said that the Redskins would never change their name.
Since their inception in 1932, the Redskins have had only three team names—the Boston Braves (1932), the Boston Redskins (1933-1936) and the Washington Redskins (1937-present).
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