Hiding Our Ugliness – Redskins

Lately I have been spectating social media commentary on the use of one word in our community – Redskin.

It has become a little like watching a horrible accident in slow-motion where the perpetrator, in this instance a city councilor and friend, is being verbally run over by offended members of the community again and again (and sometimes backed over for good measure).

Why, might you ask, is this person being vilified? Why all for having the despicable gall of suggesting city council might request the local hockey team in our 97% non-Aboriginal community consider changing their name from the Morden Redskins to something potentially less offensive.

The responses have been quick and loud and VERY negative (there has been much support too but the hurtful words are always louder).

A sampling of opinion on the matter:

  • Stop stirring the pot (aka nobody move and nobody gets hurt or don’t ask, don’t tell)
  • We haven’t had any complaints from First Nations people therefore this is not an offensive name (aka – because you are white you are not allowed to have an opinion on what might be offensive to a person of a different heritage so shut up)
  • This is embarrassing to our city and makes us look racist and therefore you are a shameful representative (aka we know its a racial slur but who cares if no one is complaining. Let’s keep our skeletons properly stored in the closet)
  • Shame on you for not focusing your efforts on more important things like our economic development or easing First Nations poverty (aka I don’t know you so I am going to assume you are a glory seeking person who cares only for themselves or maybe you are just a silly person who can’t tell serious issues from non-issues like labeling an entire and complex mix of cultures by one word based on the colour of their skin. After all how could our being unconcerned with the use of a racial slur against a minority possibly have anything to do with their treatment, subjugation and subsequent impoverishment?)
  • Bunch of politically correct crap…offended people should get thicker skins (aka why can’t a freaking conquered people just stay conquered and give up? We won. We will call you whatever the hell we want. Shut up.)
  • I have a First Nations friend/ am a First Nations person who thinks the term is fine/loves it (aka one First Nation friend trumps the fact that large numbers of First Nations and American Indians, scholars, leaders etc. that have gone on record as stating the word Redskin is racist and hurtful; that several dictionaries say the same thing; that an entire US state (California) just BANNED the word Redskin as a team/mascot name; that a complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Commission by the First Nation’s band A Tribe Called Red succeeded in having a Redskins team in Ottawa have to drop its name; that the United States department responsible for Copyright just removed the Washington Redskin’s copyright stating that you cannot copyright a racial slur…aka Shut up.)
  • It’s not offensive because we didn’t mean it to be offensive (aka we don’t care if you think its offensive and if many others are offended by it because we don’t mean it to be therefore you really aren’t actually offended therefore shut up.)
  • It’s our team’s proud six decade history (aka your heritage stretching back thousands of years does not matter when faced with our awesome hockey jersey and winning record)
  • It honours First Nations people when a team of almost entirely white guys calls themselves Redskins (aka as an honour it would be no big deal if we all just started call every First Nations person we know “Redskin” – “Hey hows it going Redskin?” because we want to “honour” them.)
  • What about the 100 other teams named after First Nation’s tribes and/or skin colour? (aka since everybody else is racist why can’t we be too?)
  • It didn’t start out as offensive (Neither did the horribly offensive word Nigger which started out as a neutral term referencing skin colour (sound familiar) but there aren’t a lot of teams called The Niggers around…why? Because language changes.)

There’s a lot more but I’m tired and so are you (if you made it past the title).

To offer grace, compassion and empathy first, is the sign of a courageous leader. To sit back and hide and force a people to come with hands out like beggars looking for these things while you consider whether you will dispense it at all is simple, lazy cowardice.

9 thoughts on “Hiding Our Ugliness – Redskins

  1. There is still a question that remains unanswered here. There are obviously two sides to this issue which unfortunately is beginning to divide the people of what I remember to be an otherwise fairly quiet and harmonious community. The question is, who has the right to determine which group will have to live with the offense? – there is a fundamental problem with attempting to be politically correct about everything…all it does is turn the stick around so that someone else has to hold the shitty end for a while. It turns everything into a win – lose situation. It does not matter how this turns out at this point… either way there is going to be a group of people in Morden who will come out of it offended, what qualifies you or I to be the one to decide who that will be?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. At the end of the day either a group of almost entirely white people are going to be offended for being refused the right to use the word “Redskin” or a group of First Nations people will continue to be offended for a white community’s continued use of the word “Redskin” – you are right about this.

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  3. I haven’t seen anyone address the major cost of the change for the hockey team. Are the people that are wanting the name change also willing to help pay for this change? There are a lot of expenses that will be incurred as in two sets of jerseys, dressing room, advertising, bus logos, etc. If “they/you” want change, I think there has to be some monetary backing for the team…just my two cents worth…

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    1. It’ll take more than two cents! There are discussions happening about covering that cost. I really think this is a great opportunity for the city, the team and potential new sponsors.

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      1. Perhaps the people involved in wanting this change and initiating it, should be the ones covering the cost. It doesn’t appear that the taxpayers want to pay for this. If there are new sponsors that are interested, that is wonderful!!! I hope FFH are going to be the first ones to step up!

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  4. I don’t think this was ever about the name. For most people now it has lost its’ ability to be.

    It was about how a small community, non-news item found its’ way to national media. And why this community, which is comprised of its citizens not it’s government were made out to be a bunch of racist hill-billies.

    Taking this story to national media in order to shame our community is not democratic. If she wants change the correct way to do that is:

    1. Respect the citizens, by respecting the democratic process.
    2. Work on the thinking of business partners and fans. If fans and community businesses don’t support the name, the Redskins management will have an impetus to change.
    3. Respect the fans. They have a lot of loyal, long-time fans. By running to the media to shame them, she is only calcifying their position.

    I’m a big fan of our hockey team. I agree the name is racist by context, and am in favour of a name-change. But I refuse to get behind her campaign because I’m not sure if I want to be charged with calling 3% of our community ‘Redskins’ or 97% of our community bigots.

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    1. I appreciate your response. You should know that media sought this out and not the other way around. The national media and any media outside of Manitoba picked this story up after it was run by local media. The content of the story (aside from quotes) is available on the City of Morden’s own website where the minutes to the Oct. 6 Committee of the Whole meeting (and all other meetings) are located.

      The story boils down to this – a city councilor made a simple request that council consider sending a letter requesting (not forcing) that the local team change its name. Council said no. Media picked this up and asked local councilor why she thought the name should change. Media also spoke with team.

      Whether we like how we are portrayed or not the question still remains – is there something wrong with the name and if so what are we going to do about it? We have options:

      1. Do nothing.
      2. Wait for an undetermined number of First Nations people to complain and then do something.
      3. Do something.

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      1. Ok. Thanks for clearing that up for me. I had heard multiple accounts, all of which reported her tattling it to the media and trying to push the story on them. It was that process I was opposed to – not the name change.

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