Sherman Alexie: Racism

One thing Sherman Alexie said at during his talk at the Chicago Humanities Festival was that all Native American- based names and logos are racist. He said that it doesn’t matter what the name/logo is and what reason was given for its creation; it is just racist.

As a white person, I don’t experience many things that I find to be racially offensive to me. However, I suppose that that is because my “people” (the Europeans) were the ones being racist and being oppressive, so no one ever came up with something that had the weight of history behind it to hurt them. No one ever invented a name that would make white people angry or hurt.

In APUSH we have been studying the “conquering” of the Native Americans. The white majority did some horrible things to the Native Americans e.g. the Trail of Tears. Now that we aren’t as ignorant as we were then, the white people have been very careful to not be racially offensive, for fear that one of them may be deemed a white supremacist. But we don’t let go of the Redskins.

Sherman Alexie explained that a name like “redskins” or “indians” or even “Blackhawk” is not acceptable as a sports team (or any group, for that matter) name. Redskins in particular is a very offensive name for someone of Native American descent; it is the Native American equivalent of the n- word. The Cleveland Indians are offensive, mostly because of their logo. The bright red dancing man takes a jab at the image of the “stereotypical” image of a Native American.

I agree with Sherman Alexie. It is very important that, in our effort not to be seen as racist, that we acknowledge that race-based names for anything are not acceptable. They are racist. I would encourage any white person who might have doubts about what is offensive to certain people to listen to Sherman Alexie. We don’t want to live in a segregated society; a society segregated because we aren’t willing to admit that something is racist. It’s time to let go of the Redskins.


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