Intent of Racial Slur Can Be Changed

Content Warning: The following letter responds to our editorial (“Journalists Must Remove Racial Slurs from Lexicon,” The Oberlin Review, Sept. 26, 2014), and it includes a word that the Editorial Board considers a racial slur.

Bob Gross

To the Editors:

I think the word “redskins” has been rehabilitated and no longer can be considered a racial slur. When used as a mascot name, it presents Native Americans in a positive way. Look at the Washington, D.C. professional football team: Native Americans are not depicted scalping white settlers, and the cheerleaders are not represented as squaws. Instead, a noble image of Native Americans is portrayed by the Washington pro football team.

A reasonable person might even come to the conclusion that the use of the term “redskins” by the Washington pro football team is something that should be looked on as admirable.

The connotations associated with a word can change over time — for example, the word “vikings.” Vikings are used as mascots by numerous teams, but the term originally referred to a group of brutal Scandinavian mass murderers, pillagers and rapists. However, the term presently denotes a band of rugged, courageous Norse conquerors.

Maybe it’s time to take a more objective look at the use of Native American images as mascots.

–Bob Gross