There's been a debate over the last few years as to whether the Washington Redskins should change their name to something less insensitive to native Americans. On one side it's hard to imagine a team called the Blackskins or the Yellowskins which would obviously be incredibly racist. On the other hand the representation on the side of their helmets is respectful and there is no obvious intent to demean but rather celebrate native American heritage. However lookup "redskin" in any American dictionary and the definition will be defined as "usually offensive", "disparaging", "insulting" and "taboo" according to Wikipedia.

You'll notice in the photo above that in the sports section of the Sunday edition of the Billings Gazette they call them the "Washington Nationals" in reference to the Redskins promoting Alex Santos to the position Director of Pro Personnel. Hard to imagine that being an accident given Montana's rather large native American population. While in the past the term was inarguably a pejorative, the only widespread use of the name is to identify Washington D.C.'s NFL team. University of Memphis Professor Luvell Anderson has said that for the term to be a slur, it must communicate ideas beyond identifying a targeted group. Using that cockeyed logic a white person should feel free to use the N-word as long as he or she meant nothing by it other than identifying a member of another race. In a recent Associated Press poll 83% of all Americans felt the Redskins should maintain the name and a 2002 Sports Illustrated poll showed that 75% of native Americans had no objection to the name. Regardless, there is still a large number of American Indian activists and at least 25% of the native American community who object. In my opinion, despite its relatively benign meaning at present, it still started as a racist slur and is a blight on our history. I think they should change their name and I applaud the Gazette for doing it for them. For the record though, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has said that "We will never change the name of the team."

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