As a native Washingtonian, I cannot believe that I missed this story from last week about DC’s football team and their disastrous attempt to use twitter to beat up on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. ThinkProgress is on the case, however, and has a good write-up here, if you’re in the mood to rubber neck at a virtual car crash.
Essentially what happened is this: Washington, D.C.’s football team has as its name a racial slur. Somehow, they think this is defensible. Harry Reid does not. They thought that they could better control the narrative around their name by asking their twitter followers to tweet about “what the team means to you.” Predictably, it went off the rails, as tweets about the genocide of the Native Americans and the offensiveness of the name hijacked the hashtag.
Those of us who aren’t Native American have a stake in changing the Redskins name and branding. Stereotypes don’t only harm those they unfairly portray. Two decades of mind and social science studies conclusively reveal that stereotypes play a significant role in the ways we perceive, consider and interact with people who aren’t like us, impacting our decision-making in powerful and subconscious ways, thanks to a phenomenon called implicit bias.
Obviously, it is long past time for D.C.’s football team to get a new name. The ‘Skins taking forever to admit they are in the wrong isn’t going to make them suddenly in the right.