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Mark Abley: ‘Redskins’ a Relic of a Racist Age

Award-winning Canadian poet, editor and journalist Mark Abley recently wrote a "Watchwords" opinion column for the Montreal Gazette concerning the Washington, D.C. NFL franchise's use of the nickname "Redskins." Abley was writing soon after it was learned that 10 U.S. Congress members had sent a letter to Washington team owner Daniel Snyder, urging him to change the name.

For Abley, "The problem with 'Washington Redskins' is twofold. First, the longtime owner, George Marshall, was a virulent racist who marketed the Redskins as the team of the U.S. South and who did everything possible to keep professional football a whites-only sport. His wife Corinne wrote the lyrics to a fight song, 'Hail to the Redskins,' that goes: 'Braves on the warpath, fight for Old Dixie! Scalp ’em, swamp ’em, we will take ’em big score.' Only with great reluctance, and under pressure from the Kennedy administration, did Marshall sign a black player in 1962, making the Redskins the last National Football League team to be integrated. Second, and more important, the word itself is widely felt to be offensive. If you’re looking for a euphemism or replacement for 'North American Indian,' you’d say 'redskin' only if you meant to insult."

Read the entire column, "'Redskins' a Relic of a Racist Age," by clicking here and share your thoughts with ICTMN about Abley's opinions by commenting below. 

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