Washington Redskins  

 

'Redskins' nickname takes a beating at symposium

  • By Associated Press
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WASHINGTON -- Hurtful names and racial stereotypes of all types were discussed and dissected Thursday in a daylong symposium at the Smithsonian, and the Washington Redskins were at the top of the list for nearly all those who spoke.

By the time the day was over, they had a convert.

Unaware of what the presentation was all about, Andre Holland wore his burgundy and gold Redskins hat, ear muffs and key chain to the National Museum of the American Indian. He was on a field trip with his Sports in America class from Anne Arundel Community College.

When the sessions ended, the 20-year-old student had removed the hat and disavowed the nickname of his lifelong favorite NFL team, having been persuaded that it's as racist as the worst names he might be called as an African-American.

"I really don't feel right wearing this stuff now," Holland said. "And now I can't even say 'HTTR' -- which is 'Hail to the Redskins' -- because that's chanting something racist. I'm going to be a fan of Washington -- a 'Washington football team.' Not the 'Washington Redskins.'"

Panelists and audience members explained why they felt the name was offensive and offered all sorts of ideas - including a protest at training camp and the need to get franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III to speak out - that might persuade team owner Dan Snyder that a change is needed.

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Organizers say the Redskins did not respond to an invitation to participate, and no one stood up to defend the Redskins name when the audience was invited to participate.

There has been momentum toward changing names deemed offensive, although Snyder has been adamant about that he's not going to join the trend. On Tuesday, Washington Mayor Vincent Gray specifically avoided saying the name of franchise in his State of the District speech and instead referred to "our Washington football team."

The best chance to change Snyder's mind would likely be to hit him in the pocketbook by getting the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to void the Redskins trademark. A group of American Indians made progress on that front during a 17-year court battle that came to a halt in 2009 because it was ruled that the plaintiffs waited too long to file their original case. There is now a new case filed by younger plaintiffs that is due for a hearing next month.

Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press

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