FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The NFL’s Racism

by DAVID MACARAY

A few years ago I was watching a boxing match on television that featured a black fighter whom I’ll call “Sam Smith,” squaring off against a white fighter whom I’ll call “ Joe Jones.”  Although I’ve long since forgotten the boxers’ names, their weight class, and who won the fight, I do remember wishing I had a 10-pound barbell to throw at the TV screen.

Typically, boxers wear trunks that are readily distinguishable from each other.  For whatever reason, that wasn’t the case in this match; both fighters were wearing shiny black trunks.  Smith’s trunks had a narrow, light blue vertical stripe, and Jones’ trunks featured a wide, dark blue stripe—almost a Navy blue, making it nearly impossible to see against the dark field.

During the bout, the announcer said, “If you’re just joining us, Smith is wearing black trunks with a light blue stripe, and Jones is wearing black trunks with a dark blue stripe.”  Those were his exact words.  Presumably, because he feared being reprimanded by his superiors or being reviled by the public, he couldn’t bring himself to identify Smith and Jones by their skin color or race.

Switching venues, let’s imagine a group of men (all serious boxing fans) watching the same fight in somebody’s living room—drinking V-8 juice, eating hummus, and boisterously cheering for one fighter or the other.  A late arrival (a fellow who doesn’t follow the sport) joins the group and casually asks who’s fighting.  One of the men quickly responds,  “Sam Smith and Joe Jones.”

If this late arrival were to ask who was who, no one would dream of answering, “Smith is wearing black trunks with a light blue stripe, and Jones is wearing black trunks with a dark blue stripe.”  Nobody would say that.  Instead, they would answer with either, “Smith is the black guy,” or “Jones is the white guy.”  The announcer’s reluctance to acknowledge a boxer’s race is a perfect example of political correctness taken to an absurd extreme.

Which brings us to the Washington Redskins of the NFL, which, alas, is a whole other deal.  Anyone who thinks this is a case of “PC going too far” is missing the point.  For decades, there have been protests by Native Americans arguing that “Redskins” is pejorative and anachronistic term, one that has no place in a professional sports league, particularly for a team located in the nation’s capital.

The protests have been greeted with everything from genteel excuses to lip service to outright hostility.  Even people who believe that Native Americans may have a legitimate beef, tend to dismiss their complaints as quibbling or “making a mountain out of a molehill.”  You hear people say, “Don’t these tribes have enough to worry about?  They gotta protest trivial stuff like this?”

But the latest round of protests got the attention of the U.S. Congress.  In early May, the Congressional Native American Caucus, led by co-chair Betty McCollum (D-Minn), wrote a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, imploring him to do what should have been done decades ago—force Washington ownership to change its team name.  The term “Redskins” is derogatory,  racist, and offensive.  There are a hundred other names they can choose from.  Pick one.

On June 5, Roger Goodell issued his answer.  His disrespectful reply was, more or less, “No way, Tonto.”  Goodell, son of the late Charles Goodell, a former conservative Republican senator from New York, made it very clear that he had no intention of raising the ire of NFL team owners.

After all, because the NFL commissioner serves at the pleasure of the owners, he can be replaced with relative ease.  They voted him in, they can vote him out.  And being the NFL commissioner is one very cushy, well-compensated job.  In 2011, Goodell earned $29.5 million, most of it in performance bonuses.

Once again Native Americans are rebuffed, and once again they’re rebuffed by wealthy white men.  These protesters weren’t asking for money or land or special privileges.  They were simply requesting not to be humiliated on the national stage.  But because Roger Goodell would rather piss off some powerless Indians than rile his masters, their request was denied.  Well done, Roger.  Another bonus awaits.

David Macaray, an LA playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor” 2nd edition), was a former union rep.  Dmacaray@earthlink.net

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is “Nightshift: 270 Factory Stories.” He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

More articles by:
May 26, 2016
Paul Craig Roberts
The Looting Stage of Capitalism: Germany’s Assault on the IMF
Pepe Escobar
Hillary Clinton: A Major Gold-Digging Liability
Sam Pizzigati
America’s Cosmic Tax Gap
Ramzy Baroud
Time to End the ‘Hasbara’: Palestinian Media and the Search for a Common Story
José L. Flores
Wall Street’s New Man in Brazil: The Forces Behind Dilma Rousseff’s Impeachment
Patrick Cockburn
The Battle of Fallujah: ISIS Unleashes Its Death Squads
John Feffer
The Coming Drone Blowback
Alex Ray
The Death Toll in Syria: What Do the Numbers Really Say?
Richard Pithouse
We Shall be the Prey and the Vulture
Binoy Kampmark
Trump and the Polls of Loathing
Manuel E. Yepe
A Cruise Ship Without Tourists Arrives in Havana
Jack Rasmus
Greek Debt Negotiations: Will the IMF Exit the Troika?
Ajamu Nangwaya
Pan-Africanism, Feminism and Finding Missing Pan-Africanist Women
Howard Lisnoff
Israel, a Palestinian State and Anti-Semitism
May 25, 2016
Eric Draitser
Obama in Hiroshima: A Case Study in Hypocrisy
Ryan Mallett-Outtrim
Does Venezuela’s Crisis Prove Socialism Doesn’t Work?
Dan Arel
The Socialist Revolution Beyond Sanders and the Democratic Party
Marc Estrin
Cocky-Doody Politics and World Affairs
Sam Husseini
Layers of Islamophobia: Do Liberals Care That Hillary Returned “Muslim Money”?
Susan Babbitt
Invisible in Life, Invisible in Death: How Information Becomes Useless
Mel Gurtov
Hillary’s Cowgirl Diplomacy?
Kathy Kelly
Hammering for Peace
Dick Reavis
The Impeachment of Donald Trump
Wahid Azal
Behind the Politics of a Current Brouhaha in Iran: an Ex-President Ayatollah’s Daughter and the Baha’is
Jesse Jackson
Obama Must Recommit to Eliminating Nuclear Arms
Colin Todhunter
From the Green Revolution to GMOs: Living in the Shadow of Global Agribusiness
Binoy Kampmark
Turkey as Terror: the Role of Ankara in the Brexit Referendum
Dave Lindorff
72-Year-Old Fringe Left Candidate Wins Presidency in Austrian Run-Off Election
May 24, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
The Financial Invasion of Greece
Jonathan Cook
Religious Zealots Ready for Takeover of Israeli Army
Ted Rall
Why I Am #NeverHillary
Mari Jo Buhle – Paul Buhle
Television Meets History
Robert Hunziker
Troika Heat-Seeking Missile Destroys Greece
Judy Gumbo
May Day Road Trip: 1968 – 2016
Colin Todhunter
Cheerleader for US Aggression, Pushing the World to the Nuclear Brink
Jeremy Brecher
This is What Insurgency Looks Like
Jonathan Latham
Unsafe at Any Dose: Chemical Safety Failures from DDT to Glyphosate to BPA
Binoy Kampmark
Suing Russia: Litigating over MH17
Dave Lindorff
Europe, the US and the Politics of Pissing and Being Pissed
Matt Peppe
Cashing In at the Race Track While Facing Charges of “Abusive” Lending Practices
Gilbert Mercier
If Bernie Sanders Is Real, He Will Run as an Independent
Peter Bohmer
A Year Later! The Struggle for Justice Continues!
Dave Welsh
Police Chief Fired in Victory for the Frisco 500
May 23, 2016
Conn Hallinan
European Union: a House Divided
Paul Buhle
Labor’s Sell-Out and the Sanders Campaign
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail