Demands continue for the Washington Redskins to change their name.
The Redskins part, though that Washington part doesn't exactly instill pride these days, either.
Franchise owner Daniel Snyder and his supporters say the term honors American Indians and is a beloved part of Washington culture.
Indian activists and their supporters say the term is derogatory and demeaning.
It's a long-standing debate. But sometimes, debates are too complicated. Sometimes, we outthink ourselves. Sometimes, you just have to go to the dictionary.
The definition of redskin? From the Random House dictionary: “a North American Indian, slang, often disparaging and offensive.” From the World English dictionary: “an old-fashioned informal name, now considered taboo.”
Is there anything unclear about those definitions? An NFL franchise uses a racial slur in its name, and yet here we sit, still talking about it.
This isn't Warriors. This isn't Braves. This isn't Chiefs or even Indians. You can stage a healthy discussion about those names.
But Redskins? How do you defend the name Redskins? Snyder seems to defend it by saying, that's always been the name and nobody can force us to change.
When I need insight into this issue, I generally call Jacob Tsotigh, my friend who works in Indian education at OU.
Tsotigh long ago taught me that individual names or words — Warriors, Braves, Chiefs — aren't as problematic as the imagery.
Lil' Red dancing on the OU sideline 50 years ago. Chief Noc-A-Homa, the now-defunct mascot of the Atlanta Braves. The tomahawk chop war chant of Florida State University.
But Redskin needs no imagery to offend. The word is offensive on its face.
“That word has a total negative representation, and the time is right for change,” Tsotigh said.
Chief. Brave. Warrior. Indian. We still use those words, in and out of athletics, in positive ways. But no one would dare use the word redskin in any context other than the D.C. football team or the mascot for asleep-at-the-wheel high schools like Capitol Hill, Tulsa Union and McLoud.
To whatever degree the word was acceptable in previous generations, it's not now. Not one decent person would use the word in non-sports conversation. Daniel Snyder wouldn't use the word.
Ray Halbritter, the point man for the Oneida Nation's protest against the NFL Redskins, told writer Joe Flood that league commissioner Roger Goodell should “come to our reservation, get up before everybody, families with children, and start out by saying how many cute little redskin children you see in the audience. Then try and tell us that you're honoring us with that name.”
Sometimes the meanings of words change. But more often, the impact of words change.
“All in the Family” is the greatest television show ever. The spotlight it shone on bigotry was a national treasure. But “All in the Family” scripts would not pass network censors today. Some words have become too volatile.
Heck, the other day in the office, we YouTubed a classic scene from “L.A. Law,” which wasn't that long ago. 1989. And we were stunned at a word that was aired. A word that's not airing anymore on NBC, I promise you.
Because something once was acceptable doesn't make it always acceptable. Because a wrong once was ignored doesn't mean it should be always ignored.
Redskin is no different from other racial slurs. I'd give you some examples, but it's not even decent to list them.
So it's time for Daniel Snyder to take the high road. This burden wasn't of his making. Snyder only bought the team. He didn't name the team.
Change the name. Do the right thing. Come up with a cool new mascot that will make fans buy a million new jerseys.
Sure, Redskins is ingrained in American sports culture. So is Indian imagery.
But the idea is fast losing steam that corporate America is somehow honoring Natives with headdresses and war chants.
While polls show that many Indians say they're not bothered by terms like Redskins, studies show that much of that ambivalence centers on the desire to fix more pressing needs.
Unemployment. Poverty. Substance abuse.
But such problems require social overhaul that will take years and decades.
It takes merely the stroke of Daniel Snyder's pen to change the outrage that the NFL endorses a racial slur.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.