I went to Gillette Stadium for the first time during a N.E. Patriots Game. The opposing team was the Washington, D.C. NFL team. The Pats beat the D.C. team but the announcer repeatedly referred to the D.C. team by name, by the name that has been officially found racist although the ruling is under legal appeal at this time. The same reference was repeated by www.Boston.com
Yet given the presentation, team name and imagery on the stadium home page I guess I am not surprised at the acceptance of racist Native American team identities at Gillette and throughout the NFL. It seems the racism is quite true if you know the full history of the American Revolution, including Metacom's Rebellion aka King Philip's War and how the "Patriots" came to claim the lands we now call America. I wonder how many of the descendants of original families of the migrant Europeans are still here, maybe sitting in the stands and still harbering old hatreds, real racism today while all hiding under the images of just being sports fans but privately teaching otherwise behind closed family doors? If anything recent worldwide events show to anyone paying attention that actions are more important than words, hatreds can cross many generations and peace cannot be assumed. To have this unchallenged and in our homes and schools is something we can recognize and used to bring about positive, real change .
I found this continued half-telling of our history especially sad as I listened to "This Land Is Your Land, This Land is Our Land" which accompanied a team and fan support for our Veterans, a song I grew up on, one I enjoy still, one I wish was now honestly true for all living in America, from people ontribal lands to those in all our landscapes, however they have arrived and survived here. The land, like time, is fragile and irreplaceable. Laws can change and we do write history every day. Our country was born in war, can we now find solutions for laws, good ones, just ones, beyond the violence of war and the half-truths perpetuated in our very games we play?
Perhaps because it is Veterans' Day weekend, or maybe just because it is the NFL I did see parking lots overflowing with the huge pickup trucks, 4X4s and more than a few super SUVs and mini-limos, and some maxi-limos and maxi-everything else. What I did not see were regular cars from regular families. It did look like gelt got the gate. And inside the best seats are quite the best, at some of the highest prices in the entire NFL.
Again. Fine--no objection to those who can pay to play--the owners of course, or pay to view those who play and play very well--the players and all the staff professionally involved. The NFL is business and entertainment. But it also is history, society and modern economics in society writ large.
But today was Veterans Day at Gillette. To honor our men and women who are serving and have served our country while at the same time perpetuating images of racism as acceptable is letting everyone involved be so much less than they can, we can be. We need not accept it, those involved need not endorse it, at any and all levels. Feeling good for a few moment, during a wonderful ceremony does not remove the truth that in our hearts, the quiet places inside we know are there no matter the din in our ears or smoke in our eyes we hear and see the pain racism causes. Even in other football teams, on this Veterans Day Weekend.
Students in University of Missouri Football are staging a bocyott because of the racist behavior they see in the College President. Are the young people still in school stronger and wiser than their professional just slightly older supposesd heroes?
I am frequently asked who I represent. I always say I represent myself, as it is the truth. We each represent ourselves, in every action we chose, every day. Taking on the topic of racism in major sports leagues teams' identities is not easy, often it is not popular and frequently it is seen as "too big for me" or "not my problem" by others. The "why" behind my actions is something I am exploring in what I hope will be a soon to be published article but my reasons do not excuse anyone else's inactions. Additionally, I have always stated my willingness to work with others, the share the burdens those of us who challenge racism in any way face regularly and haven given my time, and best though sometimes imperfect efforts for years, to this issue. Some organizations have faded away, others have fallen on hard times through no fault of their own, others have suffered becasue of the death of inspiring individual leaders but so long as there is racism destroying and dividing lives, harming communities, families and individual people I believe there will be others like myself who will stand and speak truth. We know, as have others before us that Silence Condones. Silence approves things staying just as they are, however wrong that may be. Silence is often also quite profitable. Sometimes it may only take a website from one woman on the internet to start the determination for real change moving.
One closing question: Are those of us who do care, who face the issue, name it and work for change willing to come together to create a single broadly coordinated boycott, over one weekend, perhaps across an entire week--what I would really like to see--of all sports, all levels, from the smallest children to the big ticket events? Can we do it or better yet are we even willing to try? Isn't racism everyone's issue? Why do I suggest ALL sports? All the professional sports have racist teams in their leagues, teams with identities, merchandise, mascots and profits arising from Native American based stereotypical racist team identities. This is a fact. Then, with a real and joined effort perhaps a real conversation around change just might get started.