Press Club

County Board Adopts Resolution Calling on Redskins to Change Name

Washington Redskins HelmetThe Arlington County Board adopted a resolution Tuesday afternoon calling on Washington’s professional football team to change its name.

The resolution was introduced by County Board member Walter Tejada, who said using the name Redskins as a reference to Native Americans is “objectionable to many Americans, Virginians and Arlingtonians.”

In introducing the resolution, Tejada noted that the team is in talks to move from its current home at FedEx Field, perhaps to Virginia. He also said that the issue is “personal for me” as a native of El Salvador with Mayan roots.

The resolution passed with the support of Tejada, Mary Hynes and Jay Fisette. John Vihstadt and Libby Garvey abstained, saying they agreed personally with changing the name but did not think the Board should take a position on the issue.

Tejada said that Arlington “has often ‘spoken out’ on issues ‘before it became popular, and it is time for us to do it again,'” according to a county press release.

The full text of the resolution, after the jump.

WHEREAS, the Arlington County Board finds that for more than 80 years, the Washington Redskins football team has brought great pride and joy to the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area, serving as an important symbolic and tangible representation of the values, achievement and unity of our region; and

WHEREAS, recent news reports suggest that the team may be seeking a new home, and is considering Virginia and such a move would be met with near-universal acclaim throughout Virginia, uniting a Commonwealth and its residents of all incomes and races, north and south, urban and rural, young and old, conservative and progressive; and

WHEREAS, the word “redskins” is objectionable to many Americans, Virginians and Arlingtonians who consider it to be a racist slur and derogatory, as demonstrated by the 1983 edition of the Random House Dictionary of the English Language Second Edition Unabridged which defines “redskin” to mean:  “Slang (often disparaging and offensive), A North American Indian; and

WHEREAS, by Resolution 43-01 adopted on January 9, 2002, by the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments found that “the term ‘Redskins’ is viewed by many sensitive and progressive-minded individuals as a demeaning and dehumanizing racist insult that embodies a history of degradation and slaughter;” and

WHEREAS, many sports teams – at the professional, collegiate and high school levels – have changed names that reference Native Americans in this derogatory manner; and

WHEREAS, in recent years, prominent Americans and organizations, including President Obama, the Anti-Defamation League, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, the Council of the District of Columbia and many more, have urged changing the name because it is not a neutral term regardless of present day intent, and

WHEREAS, the “rebranding” of Washington’s professional football team need not result in economic loss, as evidenced by the successful rebranding in 1995 of Washington’s professional basketball team, when the team’s owner changed the team’s name from “Bullets” to “Wizards” because the name was associated with violence; and

WHEREAS, the current name offends many people, serves to divide us, diminishes our humanity, and when we do not stand up against it, can erode our integrity.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Arlington County Board commends the Washington NFL football team for their outstanding contribution to the Greater Washington metropolitan region and requests the team’s owners to change the name and be welcomed into our Commonwealth with a fresh start and a brand new name.

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