The ‘R’ word

We have a professional football team in Washington, D.C., that’s drawing a lot of anger because of its name.

How much anger?

Watch this:

That ad was scheduled to run during the NBA Finals last night, but given the buildup, the California-based Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation could have saved its money, because the ad already had two million hits on YouTube.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen an ad like this before. A group saying that a team name that has been used for decades is racist. But we’ve seen this change in attitude over the years. In case you don’t know it, look up the name of the St. John’s University basketball team before it became the Red Storm.

One thing that is intriguing, though, is that the tribe is OK with the use of the word “Indian.” Here’s what I mean:

And it’s a confusing term. Whenever I the the news and there’s a reference to an Indian, I have to work out in my mind … well, does that mean someone from Southwest Asia or the native population of North America?

And Louis is right. The name is a mistake. The Europeans were looking for a western trade route to India, spent an ungodly amount of time on the water, realized they’d screwed up and when they spotted land, they said, “Oh, yeah. Right. We’ve found India.”

Here’s what Christopher Columbus wrote in a journal about to his first voyage to America in 1492 (via Britannica)

…and I saw the Moorish king come out of the gates of the city and kiss the royal hands of Your Highnesses…and Your Highnesses, as Catholic Christians…took thought to send me, Christopher Columbus, to the said parts of India, to see those princes and peoples and lands…and the manner which should be used to bring about their conversion to our holy faith, and ordained that I should not go by land to the eastward, by which way it was the custom to go, but by way of the west, by which down to this day we do not know certainly that anyone has passed; therefore, having driven out all the Jews from your realms and lordships in the same month of January, Your Highnesses commanded me that, with a sufficient fleet, I should go to the said parts of India, and for this accorded me great rewards and ennobled me so that from that time henceforth I might style myself “Don” and be high admiral of the Ocean Sea and viceroy and perpetual Governor of the islands and continent which I should discover…and that my eldest son should succeed to the same position, and so on from generation to generation forever.

Yep. He’s looking for India. Along with insulting Muslims and Jews. So when he finally gets to America and figures, we’ll maybe this isn’t India, I guess the first thing on his mind isn’t to go back to Spain and tell the king and queen: … Look, your highnesses. About that voyage you funded to get to India? Well, I ended up God knows where. …

Guess he just went back and said: … Yeah … Sure … India … Nice place!!!

And get this! According to the Library of Congress, a map of the new world with the name America didn’t appear until 1507. Columbus died in 1506. Could he have been calling the place India up until he died?

Of course, none of this has anything to do with football.

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1 thought on “The ‘R’ word

  1. The difference between a (stupid) mistake and an actively insulting demeaning term might explain the difference in the tribe’s response to the two terms.

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