WASHINGTON, DC — Nine leading national civil rights and racial justice organizations have formally announced their joint opposition to the Washington National Football League (NFL) team locating its new stadium in the District of Columbia unless the team agrees to drop the “R-word” racial slur as its mascot.
The coalition, which previously denounced the team’s continued use of this offensive mascot, felt compelled to speak out now given the team is actively exploring potential stadium sites across the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.
“In 2018, no other people of color must confront the harm and ridicule levied by a sports team whose name refers to the color of their skin,” Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP, stated. “It is long past time that the NFL and its Washington franchise throw this dictionary-defined racial slur into the dustbin of history, where it belongs.”
“The need to recognize and respect the humanity of all of our fellow Americans is more critical than ever to the future of our nation. The prospect that our nation’s capital would once again be adorned with this derogatory term runs counter to that ideal,” said Kathy Ko Chin, President and CEO of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum.
The coalition takes particular exception with various proposals to locate the new stadium on the site of the team’s former home, Robert F. Kennedy (RFK) Memorial Stadium. That stadium’s namesake was an ardent champion of equality for communities of color, notably this country’s First Americans. Events DC, the city’s official convention and sports authority, is planning a major redevelopment project at the site that will serve “as a place of remembrance and a place of teaching and practicing the civil rights and equality ideals Robert F. Kennedy championed.”
“We applaud Events DC’s decision to honor Robert Kennedy’s legacy of racial justice in this place in this way. The Washington NFL team and its symbol of racial injustice should be no part of it,” said Janet Murguía, President and CEO of UnidosUS.
“The R-word is the moral equivalent of the N-word,” said Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League. “It packs the same level of bigotry and insensitivity for Native Americans as any other racial slur. We cannot tolerate the NFL’s continued commitment to normalizing this demeaning characterization of Native Americans. The success of the Washington football franchise does not depend on the name of its team, but rather the talent of its players and leadership. The NFL must abandon its tone-deaf culture as it relates to people of color and change the hurtful name of this team.”
“We thank our racial equity colleagues for locking arms in solidarity with Indian Country as we grow this decades-long movement to eradicate offensive Native-themed mascots from the sports landscape once and for all. We call on D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and the D.C. City Council to stand firm in its stated opposition to the team relocating to the District as long as it retains its current name and mascot,” stated Jacqueline Pata, Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians. “We also welcome other organizations, governments, corporations, sports leagues, and everyday Americans to likewise choose to stand on the right side of history.”