Tuesday, June 20, 2017

About That Team Name Again

I am aware of the recent Supreme Court decision regarding a band name that is expected to possibly have an impact on the Washington football team's trademark status. Apparently my discussions of the team name were primarily confined to usenet because I (and the internet) are old.  But, to summarize.  I am Hawaiian, which is a kind of native American, even if the history is a little different for us than those who also fall under the American Indian or first nations umbrella.  I am Chinese.  I am a native Washingtonian. 
The team name of the Washington football team is racist.  There is no way around this.  If any other color preceded the word skin, it would have been changed a long time ago.  I'm not going to go into the long history of Americans using team names of people perceived to be savage and less than that applies to names that aren't on the face of them racist.  All of that is true and something to consider, but teams with non-racist names can have that discussion.  Our team name is racist.  
So, I agreed with the trademark office's decision to rescind the trademark.  I have supported the news outlets that decided not to use the name, and understood those that decided not to, because it is hard to talk clearly about a thing without naming it.  
Personally, I have stopped wearing anything that references the team name.  I had a great chat with the bartender at the sports bar when one beer company sent them shirts that said Washington Football this year, because it meant I had a shirt I could wear that helped new bartenders know which TV I needed to sit near and still, no racism across my chest.  
In my lifetime, the Washington men's basketball team changed it's name.  Baseball returned to DC with a brand new team name.  And the hockey team changed it's logo and color scheme at least twice.  But the football team has continued to not only act as if changing would be the worst, but to actively spend money to support continuing with a racist name. 
Code Switch did an interview with the leader of the Slants, about their fight to get the ability to trademark their band name. I've been aware of this case for a while, due to the corners of the internet I hang out it.  Pretty regularly the Slants have been asked about the Washington football team, and pretty regularly he has said that the situations are different, since the band is fighting for the right to reclaim a slur.  (The article discusses how there were other approaches.)
So, here's what I would hope.  I would hope that the Washington team does not take the victory in the Slants case as their own, and try to re-register their trademark.  I would hope that we would work to bring in a new name for the new season.  Here's why.  
During the season I was at the sports bar watching the game.  It was a game that went well for the burgundy and gold.  As such, one particularly drunk group of fans began singing the fight song.  The loudest fan sang all the lyrics.  Even the ones they no longer put on the screen at the games, because even the organization agrees that those lyrics are super racist. I have never been so embarrassed to be a Washington football team fan.  And I've been through some bad seasons.  
I want a football team with a name I'm not embarrassed to be associated with.  We're not reclaiming.  I don't care how many studies we do of people who maybe don't care.  Plenty of people do care and are offended and so we should stop using it.  We have a solution. I want us to make use of it.