Change the Mascot and Diverse Coalition of More Than 100 Groups Urge Radio and T.V. Broadcasters to Cease Use of Washington Team’s Disparaging R-word Name on Airwaves

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The national grassroots Change the Mascot Campaign has enlisted over 100 leading Native American, religious, and civil rights organizations to sign a letter to television and radio broadcasters in cities across the country encouraging them to stop using the R-word to refer to Washington’s NFL team. Change the Mascot also plans to run an ad in Houston this weekend educating the public about the offensive nature of the racial epithet and encouraging people to contact their local media personalities asking that they stop using the word, which is deeply offensive to Native Americans.

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Every time the slur is promoted on the public airwaves even in a non-critical way by a journalist, it is an endorsement of the continued use of this slur.

On the day the NFL kicks off its 2014-2015 season, the Change the Mascot campaign and a diverse coalition of supporters are issuing a letter to broadcasters asking them to refrain from using the Washington NFL team’s racist name on public airwaves. The letter, co-signed by over 100 leading Native American, religious and civil rights organizations, is going out to reporters at national news networks, as well as thousands of reporters who cover sports in cities which have NFL teams.

Change the Mascot, led by the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and the Oneida Indian Nation, has enlisted the support of dozens of Native American tribes and organizations since its launch. Many of these groups have passed resolutions and issued separate formal letters stating their stark opposition to the team’s use of a dictionary-defined slur against Native Americans.

The letter to broadcasters encourages them to join dozens of fellow media organizations who are refusing to use the team’s offensive name, including The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Kansas City Star, The Denver Post, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Washington City Paper and many more. Leading journalists including NBC Sports’ Bob Costas, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, USA Today’s Christine Brennan and The Washington Post’s Mike Wise have been among the dozens of reporters who have individually spoken out against the team’s name.

The letter states: “We are writing to ask you to join other media organizations in refusing to broadcast the Washington team’s name on the public airwaves. The team’s name is a dictionary-defined racial slur... Throughout history, this term has been used to disparage Native Americans. It is the term used by bounty hunters to describe bloody Native scalps, and it was the epithet screamed at Native Americans as they were dragged at gunpoint off their lands.”

“Every time the slur is promoted on the public airwaves even in a non-critical way by a journalist, it is an endorsement of the continued use of this slur. In other words, using this word is not just to legitimize it - it is to endorse its use, to ignore its definition and to defend its message.”

The letter to broadcasters comes at the same time Change the Mascot is preparing to air an ad on a national radio station, as well as a station in Houston, where Washington’s team will play its first game of the season on Sunday. The ad explores the history of the offensive R-word and encourages the public to contact their local broadcasters urging them to stop using it during their reporting on the D.C. team.

A list of Change the Mascot supporters can be found at:

The full text of the letter to broadcasters can be found at:

The campaign also compiled a fact sheet on why media outlets should stop using the R-word, which can be found here:

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Jim Heins
Oneida Indian Nation
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