I am a proud black American. That designation, which was all the rage at one time in this country, now garners me occasional contemptuous looks from my children’s generation, as well as a significant portion of mine. Somehow, my being “black” is now looked on as subjecting myself to a demeaning terminology. The term that prompted literature (“The Souls of Black Folk”), enduring adages (“Black is beautiful”) and James Brown’s anthem “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud” is viewed by many in the black community today as nearly a racial slur (“Hypocrites will get their way on Redskins’ name,” Web, June 19).
Racial designations will invariably offend some, and while the Redskins’ name was not chosen to offend (it was already the team’s name when the team came to Washington), it does offend some. It’s also the only team name in the entire league that can be construed as derogatory. While my great-grandfather, a full-blooded Chickasaw, found no problem with being called “Indian” or “red man,” he was from a time when minorities generally accepted the majority’s designations without complaint. Today, minorities tend to reject terminologies that we didn’t choose for ourselves. Thus, in my 58 years, I’ve been Negro, colored, Afro-American, black and finally, African-American.
Were some billionaire to establish a team in Harlem or Anacostia, there’s zero chance that any of those preceding designations would be used in the team name, even if the intent were to pay tribute to the black community. It wouldn’t be allowed even if the owner were black. It would offend some and therefore be rejected. Redskins owner Dan Snyder knows that the “Redskins” name would never be approved today. His devotion to it is born of business concerns, tradition and the fact that he is stubborn and a devoted fan. Those issues make negligible to him the injury and outrage that some feel when they hear the name.
As a lifetime Redskins fan, I don’t really want the name to be changed, but I do believe that it should be. While I’d miss the tradition associated with the name, I’d adjust to singing “Hail” to somebody other than the Redskins.
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