Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Hail To The Washington Football Team! Hail Victory!

When I grew up, if someone pointed at a person and said "There goes a redskin," you would turn around and look for a football player. Of course I grew up in the suburbs of Washington DC, so there was a greater chance you'd turn and see Sonny Jurgensen or John Riggins than if you were in St. Louis.

But still, I'm not a linguistics expert or anything, but I've never heard the term "redskin" used as a derogatory term for an American Indian. And I went to college in South Dakota. Don't get me wrong, I heard plenty of examples of racism, I just never heard anyone say "redskin."

Is American Indian even the correct term?  I know Indian American is an American that originated from India. I dislike the term "Native American" because goddamnit, I'M a native American. I was born here too. Mexicans and Canadians are "Native Americans." So are Brazillian people and people from Uruguay. Maybe the proper term is "Native American Indian," but that's so cumbersome. I've asked, and the people I talked to prefer to be called "Sioux." Tough to argue with that. I guess if you described yourself as "American" and in everyone's mind that included people from Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua and Peru, you would probably want a more specific term.

Let's say "American" did mean anyone from North or South America. What nationality would you want to be called? Am I a Tennessean? That's where I live. But I was born in New York. Am I a native New Yorker? When I was four my folks moved to the DC suburbs. So when I say my hometown, I'm thinking of Virginia. Does that make my identity Virginian? I don't even like Virginia very much. That would be a shame.

I'm definitely biased. I am a Washington Redskins fan. I understand that there are a lot of people upset with the use of that word. I heard Chris Rock say it's like having a team called "The New York Niggers." But is it really? I have definitely heard the word "nigger" used in another context than a sports franchise. I've never really heard the term "redskin" used that way.

There's a brilliant scene in the movie Clerks 2 where one of the characters is upset because someone told him the term "Porch Monkey" is racist. He denies it, saying he understood the term to mean a lazy person. He thinks the phrase can be saved and used to describe lazy people of all races, so he tries to start a movement to "take it back."

Well I think the word "redskin" has been taken back. I may be way off base, and if there are internet hate sites using the word pejoratively or there are rednecks somewhere yelling "redskin" at strangers of a different race, then I will admit I'm wrong. A quick google search shows mostly football info, with a few dictionaries defining the term as racist, and a few stories about the controversy over the name. But I didn't see any results where someone actually called another person that name (at least someone who doesn't wear shoulder pads for a living.)

The word "redskin" isn't used with hatred anymore. It's used by Washington football fans to describe something they love. Maybe it's used with hatred in Dallas, but that's not racial hatred. That's good old American (Texan?) sportsmanship.


JT88Keys said...

Can it really be considered a rivalry when one team is leading the other by 23 wins? I kid, I kid...

A small private college near where I live was forced to change their name in the recent past from the Simpson "Redmen" to the "Storm."

Also, in Clerks 2 one of the arguments he makes against porch monkey being racist was that his sweet old grandma used the term. He later mentions that she also referred to a broken bottle as a "nigger knife" and it dawns on him that she was, after all, very racist.

Tino said...

Well said. This issue is all about controlling the language. It is what liberals strive for. It is what Political Correctness (PC) is all about. To convince someone of a falsehood opens the door to more falsehoods and control.