When the Washington Redskins hosted the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night, the spotlight wasn’t solely fixed on FedEx Field. A group of African-American, Latino and Native American leaders stood side-by-side with their backs to the stadium to protest the name “Redskins.”
“This is an American issue,” Hakim Muhammad, of the Coalition of Prince George’s County Leaders and Organizations, told The Washington Post. “When you have a name that is disparaging to any nation of people, it affects all of us. Period.”
Members of Blacks in Government, the Prince George’s Chapter of the NAACP, representatives of CASA and other groups came to a news conference on Monday in support of Native American groups that have started a nationwide protest against the Washington NFL team.
Muhammad told The Post the “historic” collaboration among the groups was just the beginning of an ongoing campaign to educate the public.
Zorayda Moreira-Smith, a CASA of Maryland protester, said it was “unacceptable” that the team’s name was still an issue in 2013, and that people would react differently if it were a slur against another race. “That would not be okay,” she told the paper. “That would cause a riot, chaos. Everyone would be upset. So, why is it okay when it’s called the Washington Redskins?”
Asantewaa Nkrumah-Turesign held up a sign that read, “Who you calling ‘illegal,’ Pilgrim?” Connecting that message to the national debate over immigration reform and the Thanksgiving holiday.
Matthew Fogg of Blacks in Government, which represents thousands of African Americans who work in the federal government, has drafted a resolution calling on President Obama to ban Redskins paraphernalia from all federal property. The Post reported that Fogg has heard that some Native Americans are considering filing equal employment opportunity complaints after seeing the team’s gear in their workplace.
The National Congress of American Indians recently released a video with interviews of tribal leaders from across the country calling for the team’s mascot to be dropped.
This protest before the Monday Night Football game came just days after the Fritz Pollard Alliance group released a statement urging players to stop using the N-word after two racially charged incidents, one involving a Redskins player. Some Native groups have used the N-word as a way of illustrating how offensive the R-word is.
Jay Winter Nightwolf, a local radio personality talked about the history of the word, which has been traced to when bounties were paid for the skins of American Indians.
Nightwolf and others are meeting with black leaders in the Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. to collaborate on how to propel the movement.
“I know you love your team, and I know you just got to have it,” Nightwolf said, comparing the team’s name to a drug. “But it’s time to kick the habit.”