By Kevin Ross II
Only in Congress is the President of the United States ignored when he speaks. For the rest of us, we pay attention when a president finds interest in a particular topic, especially when that topic involves your football team. Amidst a government shutdown, President Obama found the time to put pressure on Daniel Snyder to change his team’s nickname.
“If I were the owner of the team and I knew that there was a name of my team that was offending a sizeable group of people, I’d think about changing it,” said President Obama in an interview with the Associated Press
On the surface, the President’s comments appear to be extremely genuine as he makes a push for change. But let’s look at things from a different perspective. If we make a nationwide law that says the use of the "N" word will result in punishment by law, I’m sure many might consider that a good thing. But after the law is passed, blacks will still be incarcerated disproportionately compared to other groups, black women will still be overlooked for promotions that they have earned, and school systems in the black community will still not receive proper funding.
Banning a name or slur is fools gold, if real problems are never solved.
Native Americans were driven from their homes in the 1800s and settled into what we now call Indian Reservations. Over 200 years later, Native Americans still harbor in these reservations and have not made many strides as a people. It seems odd that America has not done more.
In 2013 we live in a day-and-age where many would rather focus on the name of a football team, instead of discussing real issues. Because the real issues are being silenced, and if we dare to let them speak they might make us stare at reality. Ugly realities that point to Native Americans living in severe poverty, while we spend countless hours debating team mascots. Did you know that the Native American poverty rate of 29.4 percent crushes the national average of 15.3 percent. And this statistic weighs heavy considering that poverty is the root cause of crime.
Poverty has morphed quiet Indian reservations into severe pockets of terror, where robbery, rape, and murder are common place. Many would be surprised to know that the number of rapes in Indian Reservations traditionally outpace the number of rapes in Detroit.
Studies show that the most effective way to combat a cycle of poverty and crime is with strong education. But unfortunately for Native Americans their school systems are epically bad, as only about 51 percent of Native American high school students earn a diploma. Not receiving proper education, leads to difficulty finding jobs, and many have been trapped in this cycle for decades. With all of this being said, it may come to no surprise that alcoholism is an epidemic amongst Native Americans.
Touching on issues such as severe poverty, poor education, rape, murder, and alcoholism might be tough. But it’s even tougher to stare at the facts that say the suicide rate amongst Native Americans is 70 percent higher than that of the general population. The never ending circle of poor living conditions and untreated mental health issues have driven many Native Americans to take their own lives, while we get all fired-up about the name of a sports team.
Real issues are occurring on Indian Reservations, and America needs to wake up and understand that changing the name of a sports team will do little to revitalize Native Americans.
The name change has become a talking point, that White America has snowballed into something bigger than it needs to be. Modern day Americans only seem to be concerned with who can be more politically correct than the next one. Meanwhile, political correctness does not put food on the table, nor does it prevent rapes on Indian Reservations.
Many news outlets have made a decision to eliminate the name "Redskins" from print as if they’re doing some great public service. But wouldn’t it be great, for all of these people who are so offended for Native Americans to actually do something substantial? And if they don’t want to do something to actually help Native Americans, then they should stop pretending to fight for change.
Stay Classy, DC