On "Redskins", Reverse Racism, and Mascot Mockery

Dan Snyder and Fans (Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Dan Snyder and Fans (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

By now, everybody is completely aware of the controversy surrounding the Washington, DC, NFL team and it's name, Redskins. Daniel Snyder, the owner of said team, has not only refused to budge on changing the name but he went so far as to slap the face of nearly any Native American who has a problem with the name by creating an organization to look into  matters important to said group, which might include, I don't know, racist name calling.


That Dan Snyder, what a guy.

I've had various discussions about the name with some folks whose opinion I respect and they've informed me that most Native Americans don't have a problem with the name. I'm not sure I truly believe that. But let's assume for a second that this is fact.

Who the f*ck cares?

If one group of individuals who are directly affected by said name take issue with it, it's a problem, no? ESPECIALLY when the term itself is derogatory. It ain't like folks were called puppies and are mad because they're not called bulldogs.

As an aside, I will never completely understand anybody's defense of the term Redskin. Look, I'm a fan of the Washington Redskins. It's my home team and one of the few professional sports teams I follow religiously. So I acknowledge the cognitive dissonance here. I'm torn. But not about the name. I'm torn about my allegiance. Because - and I've said this at work when describing this situation - not one person would refer to a Native American as a Redskin or a brave to their face. But let the liquor tell it, folks try to tell me its all much ado about nothing.

So it was with great pleasure that I read an article about a band called A Tribe Called Red (comprised of Aboriginal Canadians - Native Canadians, if you will) where one of the members has taken to wearing a shirt that looks like it would contain the name and mascot of a sporting team…called "Caucasians".


And of course, because of course, this group was met with some resistance and some hatred from…caucasians. The very group who has perpetuated the whole entire f*ck out this type of f*ckery for years is upset at the message such a statement beckons. There have been calls for some of their shows to be cancelled - the member wears the shirt at shows now - an irony that I'm sure isn't lost on many. To wit:

Campeau also posted screenshots of e-mails sent to local promoters, one of which read, in part: “I must take issue with you booking a racist, hypocritical band, A Tribe Called Red. If any non-Native band featured some of the song they do like Indian Girl, no doubt TRC member, Ian Campeau, who has been showing wearing a racist T-shirt, would be making a complaint to the human rights commission.”


To be fair, I'm pretty sure that the calls and "uproar" aren't that loud or frequent and are relegated to a few folks who have expressed their issues. Most of us have never heard of A Tribe Called Red until today or until hearing about this non-troversy which attention makes seem bigger than it is. But I'm also not surprised by this. And here's why:

We live in a society (millennials anyway) right now that SWEARS that if we all just stopped talking about race, then racism would disappear.

Sixty-eight percent say “focusing on race prevents society from becoming colorblind.” As such, millennials are hostile to race-based affirmative action: 88 percent believe racial preferences are unfair as a matter of course, and 70 percent believe they are unfair regardless of “historical inequalities.”



What’s more, for all of their unity on tolerance and equality, white and minority millennials have divergent views on the status of whites and minorities in society. Forty-one percent of white millennials say that the government “pays too much attention to the problems of racial minority groups while 65 percent of minorities say that whites have more opportunities.” More jarring is the 48 percent of white millennials who say discrimination against whites is as big a problem as discrimination against racial minorities. With that in mind, it’s worth a quick look at a 2012 poll from the Public Religion Research Institute, where 58 percent of white millennials said that discrimination against whites was as big a problem as discrimination against minorities.


Reverse racism is apparently a big problem. And only 60 years after Brown vs. Board of Education. We are a progressive nation, I tell you. I'm guessing most of these white folk involved in these polls (feel free to check all the stats on them if you want) are likely to think that the Redskins name needs to go as well. If true, it's commendable. (I'm well aware, seeing as we've had this convo on here before, that some of the names can go either way. And that the FSU Seminoles pay for the use of the name. I got all that. ) But these folks have also lost their minds if seeing a person of color rocking a shirt that mocked a "Caucasians" team is worthy of stating reverse racism. But it happened.

Honestly, I'm a bit surprised that anybody cared. And by anybody, I mean white people. I truly feel/felt like white people couldn't care less at seeing a team called The Fightin' Whiteys. Or the Crackers! It almost seems like something you laugh off because who cares when you're the dominant culture in society. It's a maligned community grasping for straws. But if that is a community that has now started to feel sensitive about being mocked…well I guess a change done came, Sam.


I've said a lot. And maybe nothing at all. But what do you think? Much ado about nothing? Does the statement resonate?

But don't you want one of those shirts?

What say ye?

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.



1. As a huge Redskins fan, I've evolved on this issue a lot. I grew up with the team and never thought twice about the name. Even at the beginning of this most recent iteration of the name debate, I wouldn't hesitate to defend the name. I'd cite scholarly papers, polls, blogs, you name it. I didn't see the name as derogatory and I didn't want to let go of something that I felt a lot of pride in. The great thing is that we can change our opinions. It doesn't matter if EYE don't think it's derogatory because I am not a member of the affected group. Change the name. The team will still be there after it's done.

1a. My vote for new team name is the Bullets. #NeverForget

2. It kills me when people think that ignoring race = the end of discrimination. The reason why so many people didn't/don't understand the plight of minorities throughout the history of this country is BECAUSE they ignored it. And now that's supposed to be the solution to our problems? Come on man. I ignored the Redskins name controversy for long enough and all it did was make me feel justified by denying the problem even existed. It was selfish, period.