Change the Mascot Calls on NFL’s New VP of Social Responsibility to Clarify Position on Washington Team Name and How it Aligns with League’s Stated Ideals

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Timed to coincide with the NFL owners meeting taking place in New York City this week, the national grassroots Change the Mascot Campaign is requesting a meeting with league Vice President of Social Responsibility Anna Isaacson to discuss the implications of the use of the R-word by the Washington NFL team. The campaign, led by the National Congress of American Indians and the Oneida Indian Nation, is also calling on Isaacson to outline her position on the issue and to clarify how the continued use of a racial epithet lines up with the league’s stated new focus on social responsibility.

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We are asking you to speak out on behalf of the Change the Mascot campaign, to let the league know that it cannot at once slur Native Americans and also promote itself as socially responsible.

As the NFL prepares for its owners meeting in New York City this Wednesday, the Change the Mascot campaign today sent a letter to the league’s Vice President of Social Responsibility Anna Isaacson urging her to clarify her position on the NFL’s use and promotion of the R-word, and to explain how the league can continue promoting a dictionary-defined racial slur, while simultaneously claiming to foster a more socially responsible environment. In the letter, campaign leaders also request an in-person meeting with Isaacson to discuss the harmful effects of the R-word on Native Americans and why ending its use is integral to any effort by the NFL to promote social responsibility.

“As the official now charged with helping the league finally begin building a record of socially responsible behavior, you are in a position to make sure that basic respect for people of color is not self-servingly left out of that social-responsibility mission,” the letter states. “For that reason, we are asking you to speak out on behalf of the Change the Mascot campaign, to let the league know that it cannot at once slur Native Americans and also promote itself as socially responsible.”

Last month, the Change the Mascot campaign also reached out to all NFL owners urging them to help change the name of the Washington team, calling on them to uphold their responsibility to play constructive roles against prejudice and for equality. Just weeks before, a diverse coalition of more than 100 Native American, civil rights, and religious organizations sent a letter to broadcasters calling on them to end their use of the R-word in reference to the Washington team.

Since its launch last year, the Change the Mascot campaign, led by the National Congress of American Indians and the Oneida Indian Nation, has worked to help educate the public about the harm caused by the R-word, gathering strong support from top thought leaders across the country. Native American tribes, Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, civil rights organizations, city councils, top sports icons, religious groups, prominent journalists and publications, and even President Obama have all spoken out against the team’s continued use of its name, which is a racial epithet given to them by previous owner and avowed segregationist George Preston Marshall.*

The full text of the letter can be found on the Change the Mascot website.

*Oneida Indian Nation accuses Redskins of 'memorializing' a segregationist, 6.25.14, ftw.usatoday.com/2014/06/indian-groups-accuse-redskins-of-memorializing-a-segregationist

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Joel Barkin
Oneida Indian Nation
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