The Washington Redskins... There, I said it. Those three words alone will probably generate a slew of debates all over social media once this article hits the internet waves. In my opinion, that’s as it should be.
I am Akwesasne Mohawk, I am an enrolled member of the St. Regis Mohawk tribe and yet I will continue to use the Redskins name in my articles and social media posts. But why, you might be asking me - as a Native American man who is genuinely offended by the name - when so many journalists and people in public and mainstream social media have said they won’t - will I do this?
Because my fellow social media enthusiasts, I don’t want my counter arguments to be silenced.
If I refuse to post @Redskins on twitter alongside my comment – then how is the world going to hear about it when they search Redskins in their search engine? Or for that matter, the Redskins team themselves?
Never before in my life have I seen an issue grow more heated than the Redskins debate. As social media shows it’s roaring head to the world and more and more people from all over the globe are hearing a collective voice and people know that people are sharing their frustration, I still don’t think many of them will search “R*dskins” or “The Washington Team” to see all of those angry comments or counter arguments.
In fact if they search “Redskins,” those curious researchers will find a growing number of positive and supportive articles, tweets, Facebook and Google+ posts… All because more and more people have discontinued the use of the name.
But then you say – “But Vincent, there is a paradox. If people continue to use the name, no one will realize Redskins is offensive.”
I counter you this…If one journalist says “I hereby declare I will never again write about the Redskins nor will I use the name!” Their comment may be strong, it may have value and merit and appreciation by the majority of the Native community, but it is final, and like a tweet on a twitter timeline, that one bold statement fades away into the archives of the internet and social media world.
If instead these journalists and media personalities said this: “From this point forward, whenever I write or say the Redskins name, I will also say ‘It is a name that should be changed’, or ‘I will post the hashtag #ChangetheName alongside it” ” now THAT would make an impact.
For every article this journalist writes, for every radio comment made, a counter statement is attached. Now that is social media power if social media is left to grow.
Can you imagine a search engine scenario then? For every Redskins search, The unknowing researcher, after seeing page after page and link after link accompanied by #ChangetheName just might utter these delicious words, “Wow, the Redskins should change their name.”
Like I have always heard and believed, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease. In my opinion, we all need to keep letting the world know our feelings and frustrations.
That’s why I will continue to use the Redskins name in my articles and social media posts. At least until the Redskins change it…which will happen.
Vincent Schilling is a correspondent for ICTMN as well as the Executive Vice-President and co-owner of Schilling Media, Inc. a Native and Veteran Owned Media and Media Relations Corporation. He is also the host of Native Trailblazers an award-winning weekly online radio program that airs Fridays at 7 pm EST. You can follow him on twitter at @VinceSchilling.