SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s decision to rescind the Washington Redskins’ trademark is the latest move in a battle over the controversial name.
Sierra College Professor Jay Hester says the decision simply follows other national bans of racial slurs.
“No one in society in this day and age would walk up to a Native American and say to them or use that term redskin,” Hester said. “Over time, we have all agreed that those words are offensive and the courts have held that up, even at times when a majority of the population didn’t necessarily support the change.”
Blacks, Latinos and Asians have all at one time had to overcome racial slurs that were deemed acceptable by the masses. For Native Americans, a declining population means fewer people to speak out. They’ve had to turn to commercials to get their point across.
“From a political standpoint, the Native American community unfortunately hasn’t had the same political clout that some of the other racial and ethnic groups had,” Hester said.
Redskins has become intertwined in the identity of sports teams without thought to what the term actually means.
And it’s not just in the NFL. A local school, Calaveras High, still defends using the name Redskins. In a statement district superintendent Mark Campbell writes:
“Our Native American community overall supports the term. If the majority of our overall community, and/or Native American community, spoke out against the use of it we would definitely be revisiting the issue.”
“That’s challenging when you start to suggest as long as a certain group within a certain ethnic group says it’s ok that you assume it’s OK for the entire group as a whole,” Hester said.
The Washington Redskins aren’t mandated to stop using it, despite the decision. Calaveras High says they will change the name if ordered to do so, but until then, it seems both are staying.