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Above the Distraction: More on 'Blackskins' From Gerard Miller

Gerard Miller writes a follow-up to his controversial "Blackskins" essay about the Washington Redskins

The Blackskins piece was created for all of us to make a serious reflection of compassion for American Indians, who have minimal representation in mainstream media. An imaginary mirror of truth and realization is presented in the Blackskins writing. The image created in the piece, of a man of African heritage and the name Blackskins elicits anger and dismay, which was the point. The Blackskins image is offensive, disrespectful, and tasteless, especially to me, a black man. When I look into the mirror that’s exactly what I see, a black man. I don’t have any friends who have majority of American Indian blood flowing through their veins, and I cannot recall the last time I saw an American Indian in a day-to-day setting. I began to realize that the American Indian was out of sight, out of mind. The only way I could fully come to understand how an American Indian feels, when seeing the Redskins mascot, was to imitate the scenario. When you look into the mirror what do you see? Take a moment to imagine an image of a depiction of your ancestor and a color referred to your race, attached to the word "skins." After you visualize it, determine for yourself if it is honestly acceptable to you, in your heart of hearts. I urge all of America’s citizens to put yourself in thy neighbor’s shoes, and think about American Indian issues and all race issues in America.

After being honest with myself about how I would feel if a team called the Blackskins existed, I immediately felt pride, knowing that my race would not allow such an offense in the year 2013. Then a sad realization set in: That American Indians, who have had issues with the Redskins name for decades, have not been successful. The gloomy and harsh reality is that the masses don’t care about the Redskins issue. The movements within the American Indian community are not nationally large enough for immediate change. Also, the African American comparison is necessary to use in the Blackskins piece, outside of me being a black man. American Indians and African Americans are the two most oppressed races in American history and both races have similarities, but much can be learned from the different manners that the two attack social issues. What would the African American community do if addressed with this race-relation issue? What have African Americans -- from an American Indian persepctive, the "other" oppressed people of America -- done to overcome?

Gaining perspective, compassion, and understanding for this American Indian issue is the goal and intent of the Blackskins piece. I can only hope that readers see the “bigger picture,” and evaluate the Redskin issue with enlightened perspective. The power is in the people, who ultimately effect change. I challenge all who are, or would be, offended by any skin-color issue, to direct their energy and outrage to the reality of what is actually taking place in 2013. There are many issues, no matter how minor or immense, and they’re all worth fighting for.

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