Did you hear what “whitey’s” talk’n about these days? The Washington “Redskins” football team is in court fighting “Injuns” to keep their name as a trademark. The Redskins team is arguing that it’s okay to use the word “redskin” because it’s like calling black people “coloureds.”
I, for one, find this court case annoying. I can understand the team wanting to hold onto its tradition and souvenir trinkets. But then there is something that is not right about this.
I have nothing but contempt for all of the racist slurs above, including the words “redskin,” “coloured” and “whitey.” Racial discrimination is possible everywhere. It is be easy to get mad and slip into the anger behind that kind of thinking. Not only does it dehumanize another people and but allows the animosity to grow. It is easy to start hating individuals without cause.
Hatred is one of those things that stand in the way of racial harmony. It happens when we look at another person and not insult them as a person, but rather insult them as a race. To tag all the people in that race with any negative image can hardly be appropriate. And let’s not fool ourselves. When was the last time you heard of a positive trait used when describing any race?
Distrust, fear of the stranger: the roots of racism are obvious. In times past where there was warfare over territory and resources, distrusting and dehumanizing people who were different from you might have been a survival trait. But surely not now. As mankind has evolved, is it not time that it no longer clings to this trait as it is definitely not a survival trait when you have nukes everywhere? Survival would say all mankind should look in a rational manner at our new neighbours. The world, they say, gets smaller each day.
This is why the Washington “Redskins” is a left-over relic from the Terra Nullius-cum-colonist imperial past. If a people or race takes you to court saying your name for a football team is racist and demeaning to them, isn’t this a big hint that it is considered a racist insult? Does it not also say that regular non-legal discussions have failed to achieve racial harmony? Many other teams have changed their names to be more sensitive, so what’s the problem with “Redskins” team?
The continued insensitivity of a few has repercussions beyond the ethnocentric holdouts. For when a people or race are marginalized, they tend to return the behaviour. The persecuted become the persecutors also in an unconscious attempt to become equal, superior or simply to retaliate. Such actions lead to the original racism reinforcing itself.
So what can we do about it? A lot, fortunately. Instead of allowing yourself to developracist tendencies yourself you can actively fight racism. Teachers in one Cree communitywere feeling the crunch and this was overcome when a program was started to inviteteachers into Cree households. The stranger was no more and trust developed. Another isusing the laws of the land. For example, the Human Rights Commission is one avenue.There are solutions out there that don’t involve violence or returning hate with hate.It’s up to all of us to set the standards by which we wish to live as a world community.