NFL tradition normalizes racism

Among the things to be thankful for during the November holiday, the one that resonates the most for me is football.

Thanksgiving is about food and family, but sitting together on a couch to watch the Redskins and Cowboys play will be the highlight of Nov. 24.

Even with the fond memories of watching “America’s Team” duke it out on the gridiron with Chief Zee’s team living as a tradition in my house, it doesn’t change the offensiveness of the situation.

Not only is the term “Redskin” a direct derogatory term pertaining to Native-Americans, but it is a direct reference to a barrier of color that is predominately showcased as a problem. By refusing to remove the name, the NFL is not just promoting racial intolerance, it is normalizing it.

A poll conducted by the Washington Post showed that only 10 percent of Native-American’s find the term offensive. Despite the racial connotation the word carries, people who are directly referenced by the term are not concerned with its use.

Although a majority who took the poll said that they accepted the term, a similar case of normalization occurred previously in American history. The racial slurs thrown at slaves and foreigners have only recently been abolished, with New York finally banning the term most seeded in racial disparity in 2007.

The idea that Redskin is not offensive contradicts with the Webster’s dictionary definition that labels it derogatory. Even the previous presidential candidate Jeb Bush was an advocate for the team keeping its name, saying that it is just a football team.

Bush is right, the Redskins are a football team. One that graces the field on Thanksgiving to play against a team that posts a 6-1 record against it. Although the team has yet to find its success on the field, it has managed to gain political backing by a party that has collected $100,000 in donations by the Redskins owner Daniel Snyder.

The reluctance to change the name of the team is more than just for traditional reasons, it’s laden with the politics of the NFL, presidential candidates and fans who choose to support a racist symbol that demeans people for the color of their skin.

The problem’s with the Nov. 24 game aren’t only because of the name of an organization, it is the tradition itself. With the Cowboy’s notoriously being known as America’s team, playing against the “Indians,” it is beyond racial intolerance.

The popularity of cowboys reached its peak between 1866 and 1886, the same span of time as the intolerance for Native-Americans. The result was the genocide of people deemed as Indian.

No one is dying from an NFL team’s name, and a traditional game isn’t the driving force behind the racism in America. Both the team name and the game are intolerant, as they depict a focal point in history when the extermination of a culture was an acceptable ideology.

Kenta McAfee can be reached at [email protected] or @KentaMcAfee on Twitter.