The Washington Redskins are currently experiencing a social media and public relations disaster. Someone behind the Redskins Twitter account thought it would be a great idea to ask “fans” to tweet their #RedskinsPride to Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.). This act of social media engagement apparently wasn’t thought through hard enough.
Just last week, the commissioner of the National Football League received letters from 50 senators asking for the Washington Redskins team name to be changed. This “is an opportunity for the NFL to take action to remove the racial slur from the name of one of its marquee franchises,” the senators wrote. Reid is one of those senators in favor of changing the name.
Unfortunately their request fell on deaf ears. Brian McCarthy, an NFL spokesman, wrote that “the intent of the team's name has always been to present a strong, positive and respectful image. The name is not used by the team or the NFL in any other context, though we respect those that view it differently.”
On top of that response, Redskins President Bruce Allen sent a letter to Reid defending the team’s name, saying that it was actually respectful to Native Americans. I wonder how many Native Americans were asked how they felt.
Over the last several years, Redskins owner Dan Synder has been outspoken about not changing the team’s name. In March, Snyder went out of his way to create an organization to “prove” that the name wasn’t offensive. The charitable organization is called the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation. Snyder said the organization aims to “provide meaningful and measurable resources that provide genuine opportunities” for Native Americans.
On Twitter, those who are against the team’s name have taken the opportunity presented to them by the Redskins’ tweet to express just how much pride they have:
But of course there are those who are completely fine with the name:
Who knows if the Redskins will ever get a name change? One thing is for sure, it’s quite possible the person who tweeted the initial request may be having regrets right at this moment. The job market isn’t that great right about now.
Yesha Callahan is editor of The Grapevine and a staff writer at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.