Virginia is home to descendants of slaveowners and the enslaved, as well as contemporary confederate supporters. The Virginia KKK's past activities have included kidnappings, floggings, and at least one lynching.
Public pressure minimized the Klan for many years, but in the late 1950s the threat of desegregation fueled the KKK's resurrection. At that time, the white elite, both political and social, were active in taking steps to stop the KKK's activities -- but not because the elite didn't believe in white supremacy - they did. They just thought the KKK's methods were too lowbrow.
So it's against this backdrop that I received an email today from the local newspaper I subscribe to, The Virginian-Pilot, regarding the Washington Redskins controversy.
People have been pushing for sports teams with racist names to change them for more than half a century. When I was at Syracuse University in the early 1970's, there was a campaign to remove the tomahawk-wielding Indian mascot, the Saltine Warrior (Syracuse was known as Salt City.) The mascot was finally retired in 1979.
In 1993 the National Congress of American Indians, which had opposed the name, "Washington Redskins," as a racial slur for decades, issued a resolution which denounced "the use of any American Indian name or artifice associated with team mascots."
In 2019, Maine became the first state to ban Native American mascots in schools.
In early July, FedEx informed the Washington Redskins that it will remove its signage from FedEx Field if the team does not change its nickname by the end of next season. According to USAToday, "FedEx, the shipping giant that signed a $205-million stadium naming rights deal with the Washington Redskins in 1999, notified the team in a July 2 letter that unless the team changes its name it will remove its signage from the stadium after the NFL's 2020 season, six years before the deal's expiration."
Amidst the renewed attention to racial justice since the death of George Floyd, significant shareholders notified major sponsors of the Washington Redskins such as Nike, FedEx and PepsiCo that sponsorship of the team should be terminated unless the name is changed.
In the wake of this path to victory, the Virginian-Pilot sent out this email today, which started out okay, and then began to sound ingenuous, and finally blossomed into full racist glory by the end:
Well it looks like the Washington Redskins will be changing their name soon. Regardless of what side of the fence you are on, a subscriber wrote in with some valid points to ponder. Will the Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians follow suit? And what about the Cleveland Browns? Are the Carolina Panthers honoring the black militants of the 1960's? Is it appropriate that the Oakland Raiders, Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Pittsburgh Pirates are named after criminals that raped and pillaged? How about the San Diego Chargers? Are they promoting irresponsible spending habits? The New York Giants and San Francisco Giants could be promoting obesity - a real problem in our county. And the Milwaukee Brewers...well that goes without saying. The things that make you go Hmmm....! Better get your Redskins attire before the name change happens. Visit TJ Maxx or Marshalls! We have a $25 gift card for one lucky winner!
What are your thoughts?