Saturday, August 10, 2013

Still Life With Robin: No More Red****s

Photo by Thomas S. Mann
by Peggy Robin

I can't claim that the Cleveland Park Listserv is ahead of the curve on this one. We are going to follow the lead of other forward-thinking publications, including City Paper, The New Republic, Mother Jones, and Slate*, and stop using the insulting term "Redskins" as the name of the Washington DC football team. City Paper led the way by declaring the word unprintable on October 18, 2012. Then just last Thursday, August 8, Slate made the same declaration, followed a day later by The New Republic and Mother Jones. These publications will skate around the term, using "Washington's NFL team" or "The Washington [redacted]." (See and

We have decided to treat the "skins" of the word Redskins like any other vulgarism and will simply blank it out with asterisks, as we would do for other four-letter terms for body parts or effluvia: Red****s. That makes it clear what was intended but still signifies that the word is not acceptable in polite conversation.

We also want to do whatever is within our power (and true, that's not much!) to pressure Dan Snyder to give it up. The more publications that adopt this policy, the faster the --inevitable-- change will come.

I have written on this subject before (see and It still amazes me that anyone can argue against changing a name that is unambiguously an insult based on an ethnic group's supposed physical characteristic. There's no serious case that "Redskins" can be taken as an affectionate or admiring term for Native American people, along the lines of "Braves" or "Chiefs" or even "Indians." It can't be accepted as a historical term, either. Just imagine if there were a team out west in a city that owed its rise to the completion of the Transcontinental Railway, built by Chinese laborers -- and to "honor" those workers, the players were called the "Slant-eyes." You can bet a team name like that would not have made it into the 21st Century.

Let's make it clear in every possible way in every possible venue that we are not willing to go on talking about Redsk***s in this day and age. In fact, there never was a good age for calling people names based on the color of their skin. So we are just going to stop doing it, as of today. If you want to post a message to sell ticket for an NFL football game on the listserv, your message will be posted as "Red****s Tickets For Sale." If you want to avoid the ****s, you can say, "Tickets at FedEx Field on [date]" or say "RS tickets" or use another abbreviation if you prefer, as long as you don't say "Redskins." Oops, well, that was indeed the last time.




Still Life With Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv,, and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

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