Amy Trask makes case for Redskins to change their name

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[Editor’s note:  Former Raiders CEO Amy Trask, who will serve as an analyst on CBS Sports Network’s pre-pregame show this year, recently put together 10 thoughts for Peter King’s  Her comments include a belief that the Redskins should change the team name and logo.  We asked her to elaborate.  So she did.  Her submission to PFT appears below.]

In a column I recently wrote, I stated my belief that the Washington Redskins should make a powerful statement and change the team name and logo.

My belief is premised on the following:  we should not consider skin color when interacting with any person or group of people; it is unacceptable to use a derogatory term when referring to any person or any group of people; and the word Redskins has been widely used throughout our history as a derogatory slur.

I understand that I do not speak on behalf of the Native American community — and I do not purport to do so.  I speak on behalf of myself.

Try this.  Substitute for the word Redskins another term which is, or was at any time, widely used as a derogatory slur.

I understand the business issues associated with changing a team name and logo.  I understand that there are costs associated with changing a team name and logo.  I understand that many fans will be bothered by a change in the team name and logo.

Sometimes, there are costs associated with doing something important.

As a society, we should seek to inspire people to be tolerant and respectful of others, regardless of our differences. Using Redskins as the name of an NFL team does not further this goal.

The Washington Redskins have an opportunity to encourage and to inspire. I hope the Redskins choose to do so.

63 responses to “Amy Trask makes case for Redskins to change their name

  1. “The Washington Redskins have an opportunity to encourage and to inspire. I hope the Redskins choose to do so.” Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen with the owner of this franchise.

  2. I love all the redskin talk. The name is a derogatory name it just cracks me up because all you have is Caucasians and blacks who claim it isn’t that bad a name. So if I were to say what Riley cooper said wasn’t that bad is that true nope. Change the name stop being ignorant

  3. If it is so derogatory then why is it such a popular nickname / mascot on Native American reservations? I believe its the second most common nickname for their schools.

  4. “Try this. Substitute for the word Redskins another term which is, or was at any time, widely used as a derogatory slur.”

    Do you mean like “Yankee”?

  5. Skin color is what it is and everyone should be proud of theirs and their heritage. That said Native Americans did not have red skin. Bronzeskins or beautifullytanskins would be more accurate. I believe the red refers to war paint.

  6. Maybe she should save her OWN MONEY, START HER OWN FRANCHISE, AND CALL IT WHATEVER SHE WANTS, but in America, we are allegedly a nation of Liberty….This means Danny can call his team whatever he likes, and you don’t have to root for them, you can even root against them if you feel the need. But we aren’t supposed to be pushing our beliefs onto others. So please stop pushing your beliefs on the Redskins and their fans.

  7. I’m ashamed that the NFL allows a much of wannabes to be named after the vikings.
    The Norse vikings were warriors, winners and innovative. These bunch of purple wearing wussies are a terrrile representation of the fabled vikings. I am appalled.
    See, we all can be offended over just about anything…

  8. Dear Former Raiders CEO:

    Thanks for sharing your feelings Amy.

    Unfortunately, nobody cares about your feelings – not even the law. You would think that a lawyer such as yourself would know this by now.

    I can only imagine that you were too busy destroying the Raiders from the inside to do any research on the issue, but here’s a sample from my class notes from 2002 on the issue:

    “It is a trademark that has acquired secondary meaning – therefore, it is PROTECTED BY THE LAW.”

    Go back to helping run the Raiders into the ground.

    Or at least have something to contribute next time.

  9. “The Washington Redskins have an opportunity to encourage and to inspire”

    Last time I checked this was a professional football team, and not a group of social workers. Its not there job to encourage and inspire the general populace.

    The word Redskin refers to the war paint used by the Native Americans before they went into battle.

    I don’t even like the redskins, personally I think it’s franchise in trouble……but I would support them keeping their “Redskins” name and logo. Its a matter of freedom, not social conscience.

  10. Gotta love when the name is only an issue when the team is winning. These so called supporters of Native Americans were no where to be found during the Norv, Spurrier and Jim Zorn era’s. Quit acting like you care, the term Yankee is used in a more derogatory fashion than Redskin. Not to mention Native Americans came up with the phrase to begin with.

  11. “inspired not by their natural complexion but by their fondness for vermilion makeup, concocted from fat mixed with berry juice and minerals that provided the desired color. The men would streak their faces and bodies with bright red ocher and bloodroot.”

    It doesn’t end there, red is the most common color used by Native Americans in painting their skin. According to Dress Clothing of the Plains Indians by Ronal P. Koch,

    “Red is generally accepted as being one of the colors most easily available to and most used by Indians for decorative and ceremonial purposes,”

    Therefore, contrary to popular, and misguided opinion, the original name was never meant to imply anything other than the color of war paint. It was only much later that people wrongly applied the name to mean something derogatory.

    Who gave the Redskins their name?

    The original name for franchise was the Boston Braves. In 1933, the name was changed to Redskins by the team’s coach William “Lone Star” Dietz who was actually Sioux. He was known to dress up in regalia and be open about his pride of being Native American. He saw the name as bestowing an image of pride and recognition for the Native American people. Therefore, the name itself came from a Native American who saw nothing wrong with the name.

    So shut up you liberal wind bag, glad the Raiders let you go.

  12. You wanna be tolerant and respectful, assist them in getting their rightful land back. We all know the gov’t stole their land and placed them on crappy land. wouldn’t the right thing to do is admit the mistake and make it right? You’re worried about a football team name. Get a life you politician in CEO’s clothing.

  13. When the team name is blatantly racist nobody cares about a trademark . Danielmarcsnyder I can promise you a hell of a lot more people care more about what Mrs. Trask have to say than you. It’s funny I bet as soon as the team name and logo change the fans will embrace it why stand up for such ugly colors and unis anyway. How about making the nations capital team name American!
    Majors, Senators, Statesman, Ministry, Empire, Union

  14. There’s nothing wrong with having reddish skin. Nobody is saying that reddish skin looks ridiculous anymore than you’re saying red hair is ridiculous when you refer to someone as a redhead, or that it’s ridiculous to be from Texas when you name a team the Houston Texans.

    Also, it’s funny that people say skin color or race should not be referenced, but when it’s convenient to them, they use the term “person of color”. Huh? Can’t have it both ways.
    (I’m Mexican btw, not that it matters, but I’m sure some would counter feebly by saying that I just don’t get it because I’m white)

  15. jackburton77 and jimmyt, you two are idiots. Redskins does NOT refer to war paint. Stupid! Seriously have either of yo ever opened a history book?

    and alphaq2, do some research before quoting a statistic so ridiculously inaccurate you embarass yourself. Not only is Redskins NOT the second most popular nickname for schools, more and more schools are changing it every year.

    The fact that a large group of people in ou country is offeneded, and has been for two hundred years, does not mean that our country is being ruined. It means we have progressed to the point that we can show respect and empathy and right our wrongs. And just because a few Native Americans thought it was ok, doesn’t mean it is, nor does it mean that the majority of them do.

    Sorry your resistance to change has blinded your ability to understand all of this but note that you will lose. The only constant IS change, so stick it!

  16. She pretty well sums it up. It’s ultimately not about how grievously offensive the name is or isn’t. It’s just about whether it’s a good choice. And it isn’t. There’s no real defense for it.

    In other words, it’s always better to make a choice that is dignified and respectful. Only one choice here is that.

  17. We should also end hunger, abuse, suffering, nukes, bullying, on, and on, and on.

    Google some photos of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and see if the term Redskins is the worst or best cause for these people. Google alcohol sales to Pine Ridge and find two bars in a town of 50 peoples that sell MILLIONS of cans of alcohol on an ANNUAL basis.

    I’ve served in Indian Health on that reservation making it know that I was a Redskins fan. NOT ONCE was I approached to tell me it was wrong.


  18. They should change it to the Washington Spies and get sponsored by the National Security Agency.

    First team ever to go 19-0 for 10 years in a row.

  19. The ignorance sure comes out when people try and defense a racist position.

    We can’t nearly crucify Riley Cooper for what he said and then defend using Redskins. Either all racism is ok or none of it is.

  20. Good column. Candid, logical, and to the point.

    Strong argument to change the Redskin name, whether you like it or not.

  21. I live in the DC area and have a Native American co-worker. I spoke with him at length about this issue a few years ago, and again just recently as the topic resurfaced here. He told me that it is essentially a non-issue with most native Americans and that they view all of the recent comments as mostly people trying to make a name for themselves. He went further to say that to the contrary, many Native Americans are more concerned about what they view as efforts to wipe their images from existence under a false pretense of political correctness, and that while he is not a Redskins fan, many of his people are and have no problem whatsoever with the name itself.

  22. If they do change it, how about these?

    Washington Roughskins
    Washington Regskins (“Reg” as in regular)
    Washington Redwins
    Washington Redmens
    Washington Skins

    BTW…What is a Blackhawk?


  23. I think a great new name would be Washing White Devils. That way all the whities can save money on face paint. Also you could sell some white facepaint at the stadium. It would be great.

  24. beamen321 says: Aug 26, 2013 10:47 AM

    “Try this. Substitute for the word Redskins another term which is, or was at any time, widely used as a derogatory slur.”

    Do you mean like “Yankee”?

    I have lived the north east nearly my whole life – I have never met a Northerner who saw the term as a negative.

    I have worked on in the South from time to time and have been referred to as a “Yankee.”
    You just dont feel offended when you like the name your being called.

    Its not the same. Particularity notable is that the people who named their team”yankees” are northerners.

  25. I am also from the north east, I am 48 years old and I have never thought the word Yankee was a slur, although I would if someone called me a Yankee’s fan. At holiday parties , people have a lot of themes, one of which is a Yankee swap, and no, no people are traded. or the Yankee boiled dinner, not a slur. But Redskin, I gotta go with slur, even if it it so antiquated that it not known as a slur, it is. I think I would be offended by the Capital City Crackers, and it is a similar slur. but that is just me.

  26. It’s only a slur if someone who is not Native American feels that it is their duty to speak up for the Native Americans because they perceive the Native Americans as being so helpless they can’t speak up for themselves.

    The reality of the situation is that the great majority (read 75% or more) of the Native Americans don’t care about this as an issue or actually like the name. The reason this keeps coming up is because some people have an agenda and to them, that agenda is more important to them than what the “injured” party feels. In the end, the people pushing this are the ones who would be the least affected by the team’s name. They will take on the cause that they are really fighting for justice and the poor Native Americans but in reality, this is their fight and their fight alone.

    After all is said and done, these people couldn’t care less about the name of the team and if it were to change, it wouldn’t affect them in the least. The people who it would affect is the owner of the team (based on this site’s parent company read Rich=bad), the city and fans of this team and the vast majority of Native Americans who either like the name or don’t view it negatively. They are the ones who will be the first to say “why did you do this, we never asked for this?”

    It is true that there are more important things to worry about but when someone has an agenda, the agenda trumps all.

  27. Funny if you disagree with the premise your comment gets taken down…so much for different points of view.

  28. WoW. This is so silly. As a lawyer she is aware or should have been aware that geneticists proved we are ALL from Africa. She is spot on when she says we should not consider skin color. If we actually practiced this we would not be having this conversation. But EVERYBODY does it. Get a new hobby.

    Can you please explain why the very offensive term”non hispanic white” is used by the race crowd.

  29. I look at it from different perspectives.

    First, to claim that calling a team the “Redskins” is a tribute to the bravery of Native Americans or some such claim I have heard from the organization is like putting on a minstrel show and claiming it is a tribute to African American culture.

    Second, there’s probably not a lot of benefit in changing it at this point. Most people in this day and age don’t use the term “Redskin” in any other context except to describe the NFL football team in Washington. As a racist term, it seems to be generally obsolete.

    Third, people on both sides of this issue seem to be looking for a fight about it. They are more interested in having a confrontation than any good the result would bring.

  30. That is so funny! A person that worked for 15 years for an organization that is named after rapist, murders, and thieves (the same for Bucs and Vikings). Someone who took a paycheck for a decade and a half from a team that glorified pirates has no right to speak about derogatory names!

  31. The word Redskin is not insulting and never was meant to be. It is at worst insensitively discriptive, but blame the Idians fir that since they are the ones that first coined the term. Just because people used to say “dirty Redskins” (over a century century ago ago) that doesn’t make redskin a racial slur. That is like saying the words Mexican or Italian are a racial slur because they were used in the same manner. Redskins is simply not a racial slur. Unlike Yakees which is rooted from a Dutch word that was used to insult all non-dutch white people. And as a Northerner I feel insulted every time I here it used, but I’m not about to sue the Yankees because I have a problem with there insulting name.

  32. Why not the Washington Pigskins? It makes sense and the fans already where those pig noses! It’s a win win!!

  33. Just drop it. Context is what makes something derogatory or not.

    If someone says the phrase “you people” with a harsh enough tone, people get offended… it doesn’t matter who says it… or who “you people” are….

  34. Well missie, if you are going to start a new position as an analyst at the CBS Sports Network’s football pre-pregame show, you might as well put your foot in your mouth before you start your new assignment.

    Isn’t it tough enough for a woman to get respect in a man’s game, what makes you think I care what your personal views on the Redskins name is? Are you going to tell me next that you are gay, against a woman’s right to an abortion, and are pro-illegal immigration as well?

    The problem is not everyone agrees with your whole argument, and there is bound to be some negative feedback accordingly.

    I am only one person but you can bet I now have no respect for you as a football analyst because you put to much personal feelings into what is supposed to be unbiased discussion. Will I watch the CBS pre-game show, nope, and I hope others agree and tell CBS what they think.

  35. PC Liberal Wacko’s just see Red-skin and automatically assume it’s a race issue when it is NOT. If they would just research it some they would know the truth. It’s just plain incompetence by anyone claiming it’s a skin color issue. Think about this: if the Redskins ever changed their name it would actually HURT native people and NOT HELP them. It would make them even more irrelivant then they are. Having such a glorious and historic franchise representing my people (yes I am of Cherokee Heritage) shines a good light on us and helps to keep my people relevant as well. HTTR, Hail victory, Braves on the Warpath (with Red War Paint on Fighting for victory)… Fight for Ole DC!

  36. All you people defending the Redskins name and saying the red has to do with warpaint…. scroll up and take a quick look at your helmet….

    The face in the picture has no war paint on… and the skin tone is a reddish brown. I understand its not actually red, but “white” people aren’t actually white and “black” people aren’t actually black.

    It’s racist. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. I understand your dissent. If it were my team I’d be defending them to the teeth as well. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be wrong.

  37. “the word Redskins has been widely used throughout our history as a derogatory slur”

    This is part of the problem. Yes the term was once used as a derogatory slur…but to say it has been widely used throughout our history as such is quite an exaggeration. Most people alive today wouldn’t really even know of the word’s derogatory history if it weren’t for those insistent on reminding us as part of their push to change the name of a football team. Point being, whatever the history, it is not thought or intended to be offensive today….and if no one intends for it to be considered offensive, why do some insist on it being so?

  38. From the Christian Science Monitor:
    The term “redskins” is now, and always has been, a derogatory and offensive term, according to a friend-of-the-court brief filed by the National Congress of American Indians and other major native American tribes and groups.

    “The organizations and Indian tribes stand together to express with one voice their collective opinion on the fundamental fact underlying this case: the ‘Redskins’ trademark is disparaging to native Americans and perpetuates a centuries-old stereotype of native Americans as ‘blood-thirsty savages,’ ‘noble warriors,’ and an ethnic group ‘frozen in history.’ ”

    The National Congress offers a different version of the historic pedigree of the term Redskins. “The term ‘Redskins’ had its origins in the commodification of Indian skins and body parts; these ‘Redskins’ were required as proof of Indian kill in order for bounty hunters to receive payment,” the NCIA brief says.

  39. Here’s the thing, if you’re offended by the name Redskins then don’t follow the team, don’t watch the games. The money and time and all the complications that would come with changing the name and logo aren’t worth it for a small portion of people who need something to complain about. It’s history, and it’s from a by-gone era when people didn’t feel this sense of entitlement to everything that they do now. When it comes down to it, its just a football teams name, whoop-Dee-do.

  40. This is such nonsense. Native Americans don’t care if an NFL football team uses the nickname “Redskins.” They are too busy caring about their astronomical rates of poverty, unemployment, alcoholism, and drug abuse.

    And the media and politicians don’t care whether the “Indians” are offended or not. They just love this type of “political correctness” story where a powerful organization can be accused of offending a helpless minority. You can see how much attention the story has drawn.

    After the story has finally worn out its welcome, you won’t see the media continue to focus on the grave problems of Native Americans, and you won’t see the politicians at work on ways to alleviate their plight.

    Not to romanticize Native Americans, of whom many tribes were brutal and savage (and many tribes were not), but the United States treatment of them is one of the most disgraceful episodes in our history and this minority is the one that has received the least restitution for our misdeeds.

  41. If it has to change. The Washington Redspears, the team already used the a spear motif in its history. It keeps the Red moniker. They can keep singing Hail to the Redspears and HTTR. A the hats and tees can stay the same. The logo can just be a red-tipped spear. Simple solution. Just use native american imagery with respect.

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