The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled the Washington Redskins trademark Wednesday morning on the basis that it is “disparaging to Native Americans.”
It’s been a long time coming.
The ruling does not force Redskins owner Dan Snyder to change the name, but trademarks will no longer be protected under federal law if the NFL and Redskins lose an appeal to the U.S. District Court.
It is the first major step in getting rid of the most obviously racist nickname in all of sports. The process may take a few more years, but Snyder will eventually end his stubbornness and find a more appropriate name.
Many claim the ruling is a sign of political correctness taking over the country, and some wonder why nicknames such as “Cleveland Indians” and “Chicago Blackhawks” are not similarly condemned.
Let’s tackle the former argument first. I agree that our country sometimes acts too PC, but the patent office’s ruling is a sign of progress.
Remember, there was a time when actors wearing blackface were completely accepted by the public. When things began to change then, many found it to be “too PC,” like the issue today. In reality, these people are afraid of change.
Snyder has been steadfast about keeping the name, saying “Redskins” is a part of the tradition of the franchise.
I wonder how many Native Americans have been employed during the fine “Redskins” tradition. Something tells me they haven’t gotten many job applications.
The truth is, when Snyder said “tradition,” he was not referring to nostalgia – he was talking about dollar signs. It is all about the money he is going to lose once he changes the name to whatever new nickname he is forced to come up with.
There are many Redskins fans who grew up with the name and feel a certain attachment to it.
A change in nicknames will bring criticism, and that group of fans may refuse to buy new merchandise, bringing a loss of sales.
Florida State has actually worked hard to make sure the Seminole community is okay with their name, and Indians is now accepted by many tribes.
I could break down how terrible the word “Redskins” is, but I’m just a half-Cuban, half-Caucasian college student. I’ll leave it to Tekakwitha Webb, a Cherokee who routinely attends Native American gatherings protesting the nickname.
“Think about it in the context of other cultures,” Webb said during a gathering in May. “The Redskins name is ridiculous. You wouldn’t say ‘Washington whities’ or ‘Washington n-word.’”
It wouldn’t surprise me if that is how most Native Americans feel about the subject. I couldn’t say for sure, because honestly, I don’t know many Native Americans. They’ve become an invisible minority in America.
And when that’s the case, a racial slur can be a team nickname for a long time.