The East Oregonian will no longer refer to the football team in our nations capital as the Washington Redskins.
We find the term offensive and a blatant racial slur. It would never appear in a news story, so we have a hard time finding reasons why it should continue to pop up in our sports section.
For a while our editors and sports reporters have tried to refrain from using Redskins?when possible, but what had been personal preference is now our policy.
From here on out the team will be identified solely as Washington. Some newspapers have substituted Washington Pigskins or Washington Football Club, but we think simpler is better and therefore will just leave off the teams nickname.
We are not the first media outlet to implement such a policy.
A number of national newspapers do so already, led by the Kansas City Star and joined recently by the San Francisco Chronicle and?Washington City Paper. Popular news websites Slate.com, Mother Jones and Peter Kings The MMQB.com, under the umbrella of Sport Illustrated, no longer use the term. Venerated sportscaster Bob Costas said he attempts not to use it, and columnists from Buffalo to Dallas have been writing their way around the mascot for awhile, whether or not the public has recognized it.
Were proud to add our name to the list, which we think will grow longer until the name is changed either by NFL?decree or the weight of public opinion.
We feel that our newspaper, located at the edge of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, has an added responsibility to be empathetic to tribal issues and support Native points of view long overlooked in this country.
CTUIR?has taken no official stance on the use of mascot names in general, neither for Oregon high schools nor the use of Redskins in particular. That is certainly their right, though we think a thoughtful expression of their feelings would be helpful to the debate no matter their final stance.
Some tribal members, such as Rosenda Shippentower of the Board of Trustees, have spoken publically against?Native mascots. Others, presumably, think differently. We werent the only ones to notice a few tents with Redskins insignias brought to a Wildhorse powwow this summer, nor coats or jackets sporting the logo at tribal meetings and social gatherings.
You can make an argument that Redskins is not a racial epithet and instead of sign of remembrance and respect. But it doesnt take more than one step back from the issue to see how wrong it is. The term is blatantly demeaning and based on the shallowest stereotype.
Dont think so? Go pull that dusty dictionary off your shelf. Bet you a dollar to a donut that anything published within the last century notes redskin as an offensive, disparaging term for a Native American. Its simply what the word means.
The team name does not appear often in these pages, and we dont publicize our new policy in the hopes of receiving a pat on the back nor undue criticism the latter we get plenty of without attracting extra attention. We do it to simply to keep the public informed.
A newspaper knows the power of words and you should know that a nasty one will no longer show up here.