A few weeks ago, it was announced that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled six federal trademark registrations for the Washington Redskins. This is not the first time the trademark has been in question or canceled for the ever-controversial football team, but does not mean the team has to stop using the trademarks. It will make it more difficult for the team to sue any individual or company using the Redskins name or logo.
The controversy over the Washington Redskins name and logo is decades old, but the debate has only become more heated. A few times, Native Americans in support of the Redskins’ name and associated images have been called "new Uncle Toms.”
The Stowe Center addresses the transformation of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s character “Uncle Tom” from a strong, pious, Christian man into the often-used racial slur today. Those called an “Uncle Tom” are seen as people betraying their race by taking on the characteristics or performing the actions seemingly typical of another race. Among those that have been called an “Uncle Tom” in recent years are President Barack Obama, Martin Luther King Jr., Maya Angelou, and Oprah Winfrey, to name a few.
CBS Sports columnist Mike Freeman argues, “Instead of a stereotypical Indian wearing war paint, the mascot can be a Sambo-like dude smacking his lips on some watermelon. What? That offends you? Seems ridiculous? The Redskins caricature is just as stereotypical and ugly.”
Bob Burns said the following: “Let me be clear: The racial slur ‘redskins’ is not okay with me. It’s never going to be okay with me. It’s inappropriate, damaging and racist. In the memory of our Blackfeet relatives, it’s time to change the name.”
What do you think of the Washington team’s name? What do you think the ramifications of changing the name would be? The Washington Redskins are not the only team that uses Native American slurs or imagery on their logos. Why do you think the appropriation of Native American culture is still acceptable? What can we do as a society to enact more inclusive and respectful branding?
Welcome to the conversation!
Welcome to the conversation!
Harriet Beecher Stowe's (1811-1896) best-selling anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), made her the most famous American woman of the 19th century and galvanized the abolition movement before the Civil War.
The Stowe Center is a 21st-century museum and program center using Stowe's story to inspire social justice and positive change.
The Salons at Stowe programs are a forum to connect the challenging issues (race, gender and class) that impelled Stowe to write and act with the contemporary face of those same issues. The Salon format is based on a robust level of audience participation, with the explicit goal of promoting civic engagement. Recent topics included: Teaching Acceptance; Is Prison the New Slavery; Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North; Creativity and Change; Race, Gender and Politics Today; How to be an Advocate
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