For months, African-Americans have been arguing and debating over the Confederate flag. Because of the symbolic meaning of the Confederate flag, it is right for people who believe in equality and justice for all people to speak out. Even though you have people who are adamant that the Confederate flag doesn’t represent racism, the truth of the matter is that it does. As America tries to move forward, many people are questioning whether the Confederate flag or any hint of its historical meaning associated with school mascot names in the South can last? For a country that brags on its diversity, it’s time for America to wake and do the right thing.
Case in point – In the National Football League, the team known as the Washington Redskins continue to engage in a practice that’s degrading and dehumanizing to Native Americans. What’s even more troubling is that African-Americans, for the most part remain silent about this issue. Lets face it – if the team was called the ‘N word,’ protests and rioting would happen. If the name of the team had some kind of racial injustice towards Jews or Latino’s, the name would be changed. However, because Native Americans have been and continue to be stereotyped by the media and those within academia, no one really cares about their history and/or culture.
According to a story published in KultureKritic, Dr. Samori Swygert wrote in his article, When they tell you Go back to your country, “Let the record be clear, America was not European! This is a country of stolen land. This land was already occupied and inhabited by a civilization of natives prior to EUROPEAN ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.” Simply put – whenever people fail to read history, two thing happen: 1. they will repeat mistakes and 2. they will allow people to abuse them.
Slavery and the Jim Crow era should have taught African-Americans that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. It’s amazing that so many people are quick to promote same-sex equality within the LGBTQ community, but refuse to say anything about the travesty happening to Native Americans. I find it pathetic and cruel that African-Americans walk around wearing Washington Redskins paraphernalia and yelling how much they support their team, but are cowards with regard to supporting indigenous people.
As a former resident of the Washington Metropolitan area, people would ask me how come I didn’t cheer for the home team? My response was simple – their mascot name is degrading. Just because you live in a particular area, it doesn’t mean you have to support a local team, especially when you know something is wrong. Oh, I need to drop this to fans of the Washington Football Team. When Jack Kent Cooke moved the team from Washington, D.C. to Landover, MD, why did he change the name of the city to Raljon? He, the former owner, loved your money, loved your support, however, when he moved the team he didn’t think enough of you to say Landover. He combined the name of his two sons and came up with a new city. Here’s what you need to know. Landover, MD was and still is a city that is predominantly African-American. It is also located within Prince Georges County – the wealthiest county for African-Americans in the United States. Note: The city was changed back to Landover when Daniel Snyder purchased the team.
With civil rights organizations and community activists speaking out against the Confederate flag, isn’t it time that we as African-Americans speak up for Native Americans? Isn’t it time that we as African-Americans join our Native American brothers and sisters in bringing about justice?
When Esquire ran an article on June 18th, 2014 that read Update: Yes, A ‘Redskin’ Does, In Fact, Mean the Scalped Head of a Native American, Sold, Like a Pelt, for Cash, they stated, “The fact remains that to many Native Americans, the term ‘redskin’ has long meant the act of our ancestor’s scalps being collected for bounty.”
In conclusion, what African-Americans must do is understand the history of the term ‘redskin’ and make a conscious decision to raise their voices. Gregory ‘Dawn Wolf” Woods, a Creek-African Indian states that the “N- word and the term Redskin are interrelated.” He goes on to say that “Indians never call themselves ‘Redskins’ because if so, you allow the practice to return.”
With that said, it’s time for African-Americans to stop aligning themselves with white attitudes.
Dr. Sinclair Grey III is a speaker, writer, author, life coach and radio/television talk show host (Tuesdays at 7pm). Contact him at www.sinclairgrey.org, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @drsinclairgrey