Native American activist groups will use hashtag activism to pressure NFL players to support changing the Redskins name.
The Oneida Nation, the National Council of American Indians and 77 other groups sent a letter to NFL players on Wednesday that argues that “despite team officials claiming the name ‘honors’ Native Americans, the ‘R-word’ does exactly the opposite.” And they intend to use the hashtag “#rightsideofhistory” to Tweet at NFL players in the coming days.
“It was the word screamed at Native Americans as they were dragged at gunpoint off their lands, it is the word for the object needed to collect a bounty–literally ‘red skins’–ripped from dead Native American bodies and exchanged for money as proof of kill, and it is a term that still denigrates Native Americans today,” they wrote. “The name does not honor people of color, instead it seeks to conceal a horrible segment of American history and the countless atrocities suffered by Native Americans.”
Last week, 50 U.S. senators signed a letter to the NFL asking the league to force the Redskins to change their name in light of the NBA’s swift actions against Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for his racist comments.
Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter said that athletes “have played a pivotal role in courageously using their platforms to support civil rights crusades, and the NFL’s players are uniquely positioned to help finally stop the league from promoting this dictionary-defined racial slur.”
He also said that, “NFL players, many of whom are people of color, should not be forced by the league to promote this racial slur on their uniforms.”
The groups cite Seattle Seahawks Cornerback Richard Sherman and other players, including former Redskins players, who have spoken out against the name.
Redskins general manager Bruce Allen recently invited Reid to a game and said the team is a “unifying” force in a divided city. He cited polls that found most Americans do not want the team to change their name and Native Americans who have said the team honors them.