Native American Advocates Criticize Washington Redskins for Hypocrisy

“The tweet by the Washington Redskins rings hollow to me,” a Native American leader said

Football helmets on the field at the Washington Redskins training camp
Helmets at the Washington training camp.
Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty
By Evan Bleier / June 5, 2020 10:15 am

Like most professional sports organizations that aren’t the New York Knicks did on Tuesday, the Washington Redskins, Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians and Chicago Blackhawks all posted messages in support of the Black Lives Matter protests for #BlackoutTuesday.

Considering their team names and logos, those posts and the statements they contained struck some Native Americans as hypocritical. 

“The tweet by the Washington Redskins rings hollow to me,” Roberto Borrero, president of the United Confederation of Taíno People, told Adweek. “If the team was really interested in standing in solidarity for racial justice, they would change their name from the dictionary-defined racial slur they continue to use,” Borrero said. “As an indigenous person, I feel their tweet comes off as tone-deaf, not woke. Violence comes in many forms, some more subtle than others. Indigenous Peoples are not your mascots.”

Progressive New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also specifically called out Washington’s football team for jumping on the #BlackoutTuesday bandwagon. 

“Want to really stand for racial justice? Change your name,” she wrote on Twitter.

The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) has also called on Washington’s football team to change their name numerous times in the past, though those requests have fallen on the deaf ears of team owner Daniel Snyder.

“We will never change the name of the team,” Snyder told USA Today in 2013. “As a lifelong Redskins fan, and I think that the Redskins fans understand the great tradition and what it’s all about and what it means, so we feel pretty fortunate to be just working on next season.”

Following the outpouring of support for change on Tuesday, NCAI CEO Kevin J. Allis said he was hopeful it was an indication some of the teams may rethink their questionable names and logos.

“We can only hope that today’s #BlackoutTuesday gestures of solidarity by these professional sports teams are indications of their commitment to racial equity and respect for the lives and humanity of all people of color,” Allis told Adweek. “But these teams have a civic and moral responsibility to demonstrate that this commitment is genuine by taking real action to make our society an equitable, respectful, and just society for all Americans.”

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