By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
What’s in a name?
William Shakespeare wasn’t the only person who has ever pondered that question.
Sports teams with names that some find insulting are finding themselves on the receiving end of heavy criticism these days.
The New York State Assembly unanimously passed a bill this week that condemns the promotion and marketing of dictionary-defined racial slurs as sports mascots. The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Karim Camara, chairman of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, was originally prompted by students in Cooperstown, New York who voted to stop using the term “Redskins” as the name of their school’s sports teams.
Daniel Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins football team has come under fire for his refusal to change the team’s name. Redskin is widely seen as a slur on Native Americans.
On May 6, a bipartisan group of New York State lawmakers held a press conference to announce a resolution calling for pro sports leagues, such as the National Football League, to stop using racial slurs. At the press conference, Camara (D-Crown Heights) additionally called on all New York media outlets to stop using the term “Redskin” in their reporting. Camara said the term was used several times in the three major New York City daily newspapers in their coverage of the recent NFL draft.
“It’s almost unthinkable that in 2014 we would be barraged by the media, as we have been the past few weeks after the NFL Draft, with the constant use of a racial slur. I’m calling on all New York media outlets to abstain from using the racial slur ‘Redskin’ when reporting on coaches, players, trades or anything relating to the professional football team from Washington, DC. It is my hope that the NFL, which has its headquarters in New York City, will come to the same realization that the National Basketball League did in regards to Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Racism should have no place in our society, which includes sports, which are not just games. They also reflect what we accept and embrace in our culture,” Camara said in a statement.
“Until the NFL decides that the use of a term that is a dictionary defined racial slur should be stopped, the media, especially in New York, should stop using it. New York is a place where all peoples should feel welcome and not be subjected to racial slurs while reading their morning newspaper,” Camara added.