Today’s News from the University of Kansas
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LAWRENCE — The Washington, D.C., NFL football team announced Monday it would retire the name “Redskins” and the accompanying logo, following increased pressure in recent weeks to end the use of a word that is defined in most dictionaries as a racial slur against Native Americans. While the team has not announced its new name, it has said it will be in effect for the upcoming season.
Sarah Deer, professor in the Department of Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies and in the School of Public Affairs & Administration, is available to speak with media about the name change, racist history of the team’s name and mascot, Native American advocacy, the pressure on the team to change the name, use of Native names and iconography in sports and related topics.
Team owner Dan Snyder had repeatedly said the team would never change its name, but the announcement came following warnings from FedEx, Pepsi and other large sponsors to end their relationship with the team if the name was not changed. Deer, a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma, said despite the impetus for the change, the time had come.
“While it’s somewhat disappointing that the decades of Native activism against this racist team name failed to accomplish what shareholders were able to do in a matter of a few short weeks, this is a welcome and long-overdue change for our nation,” Deer said. “I look forward to learning about the new name and mascot.”
A lawyer by training and an advocate in practice, Deer studies the intersection of federal Native American law and victims’ rights. She has written four textbooks on tribal law as well as “The Beginning and End of Rape: Confronting Sexual Violence in Native America,” which won the Best First Book award from the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association. Her work has also been published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Gender, the Yale Journal of Law & Feminism and the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law. She has testified before Congress four times regarding violence against Native women. She is a 2014 MacArthur Fellow and a 2020 Carnegie Fellow.
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