Owner Dan Snyder was forced to make the change after sponsors such as FedEx, Nike, and PepsiCo threatened to pull funding.
Content Warning: This story contains mentions of anti-Native slurs that readers may find disturbing
National Football League team Washington Redskins have announced that they will finally alter their team name pending a review. After several years of backlash and pressure regarding their name, the ongoing anti-racism protests have made the change inevitable. The term "redskins" has widely been denounced by Native Americans as it has been used to humiliate, dehumanize, and oppress indigenous communities. Paired with the equally offensive logo of the team, a caricature of a Native American chief, the team's overall branding has been a reminder of the country's historical injustices towards Native Americans. The push for change is reportedly the result of companies pulling sponsorship funding from the team, the BBC reports.
BREAKING: The Washington Redskins confirmed they will drop their name and logo. The change of name — which is a slur — comes only after sponsors threatened to cut ties with the team. pic.twitter.com/c1Spndf4wS— AJ+ (@ajplus) July 13, 2020
In a statement uploaded to the team's social media channels, they confirmed the "commencement of a thorough review" of their name. "That review has begun in earnest," they announced. "As part of this process, we want to keep our sponsors, fans, and community appraised of our thinking as we go forward. Today, we are announcing we will be retiring the Redskins name and logo upon completion of this review. Dan Snyder and Coach Rivera are working closely to develop a new name and design approach that will enhance the standing of our proud tradition, rich franchise, and inspire our sponsors, fans, and community for the next 100 years."
I would love to see the Washington Redskins do a total 180 and become the Washington Redtails, the nickname of the first Black military aviators who flew 15,000+ missions during WW II. Logos by @mbingcrosby + @cdauphin. pic.twitter.com/rEZNQ1Cvba— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) July 13, 2020
It is quite interesting that their statement places their sponsors at such a high level of importance. Just last week, Amazon, Walmart, Target, Nike, and other retail stores removed the team's merchandise from their websites. In addition to this, longtime sponsor FedEx's CEO Frederick W. Smith (who is also a minority owner of the team) stated the company's intent to cancel their sponsorship with the team and their stadium if the name was not changed. This reportedly spurred the decision to conduct a review. Though Native American activists have been campaigning for a change in the team's name for years now, it took the fear of running out money to prompt the modification.
Washington Redskins Change Their Name To The D.C. Redskins https://t.co/BqRFgEwEUo pic.twitter.com/nequ12owvv— The Onion (@TheOnion) July 13, 2020
Nonetheless, Native American advocates are pleased with the recent turn of events. Ray Halbritter, Oneida Nation Representative and founder of the Change the Mascot campaign, has been campaigning for a change for several years now. He praised the decision to retire the current name. "This is a good decision for the country—not just Native peoples—since it closes a painful chapter of denigration and disrespect toward Native Americans and other people of color," he affirmed in a statement. "Future generations of Native youth will no longer be subjected to this offensive and harmful slur every Sunday during football season." New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland added, "It shouldn't take a huge social movement and pressure from corporate sponsors to do the right thing, but I'm glad this is happening. Huge thanks to everyone who made their voices heard." At this time, it is unclear what the new name of the team might be. Some suggestions include the Washington Senators, the Washington Warriors, and the Washington Red Tails.
me watching old white ppl cry about the Redskins changing their name to something that isn't racist: pic.twitter.com/Q0RiEWQSVy— ryan (@kingoftherats3) July 13, 2020
Native American Rep. Haaland: "Redskins" name change "should have been made a long time ago" https://t.co/6bZ6JEErS4 pic.twitter.com/TM6igjY2fd— The Hill (@thehill) July 13, 2020