This past Saturday, the Yale football team defeated Dartmouth, 21–13, for its first win of the season. Head coach Tony Reno breathed a sigh of relief, and a cohort of freshmen finally got the chance to experience its first free Saturday at Toads.

However, what most students heard of the day — and by most students, I mean those who check their email more often than the score of the Yale football game — was an apology from Yale Athletics about the use of “historic artwork that is racially insensitive and promotes old social stereotypes” in the game’s program cover. Uh-oh.

In 1974, Dartmouth changed its mascot from the “Indian” to “The Big Green.” Of course, neither name really makes sense, but it is better to appropriate a color than a racist term for a people who were strategically barred from universities like Yale and Dartmouth for centuries.

There is nothing OK about the promotional covers. They don’t belong in a pamphlet that commemorates the schools’ 100-year rivalry. They belong in a museum or in my roommate’s American Studies thesis. And if I were to walk through an exhibit displaying these programs, I should react as though they are part of a sports past that has long since been replaced by a more respectful sports present.

Unfortunately, this is just not the case.

Even as many schools across the country have ditched their racist mascots, professional sports teams continue to use names and images that caricature Native Americans. Here are a few, in increasing order of egregiousness: the Chicago Blackhawks; the Kansas City Chiefs; the Atlanta Braves; the Cleveland Indians; and yes, the granddaddy of them all, the Washington Redskins. And the Cleveland Indians’ mascot, Chief Wahoo, looks like a Snapchat filter gone wrong. His bright red face, cheek-to-cheek smile and massive, aquiline nose portray Native Americans as a stereotype rather than paying them respect.

While this argument may seem obvious to Yalies, especially when name-changing has dominated campus discourse for the last two years, it stays on the back burner in professional sports. Dan Snyder, the owner of the Redskins, has stated that he will “NEVER — you can use caps” change the name of his team. He cites the fact that 90 percent of Native Americans were not offended by the team’s name in a 2016 Washington Post opinion poll.

But if the Redskins do not change their name, no other team will — how can you disparage the Chicago Blackhawks while the Washington Redskins still exist?

Last year, Yale made a decision to change the position title of “Master” to “Head of College” because of the word’s historical association with slavery. ‘Master’ means something different in the United States than it does across the pond, and for that reason it should be remembered as a part of our dark history rather than used in the present.

Just like Redskins. And Indians, and Braves, and Chiefs, and yes, even Blackhawks. One could make the argument that these names pay homage to a warrior culture of which many Indigenous peoples are proud. But all you have to do is look at Chief Wahoo, go to a Braves game and participate in the “Tomahawk Chop,” or read the history of Black Hawk, who was marched around the country as part of a minstrel show, to realize that it is time for change.

Unfortunately, much of the professional sports world thinks differently. While response to outrage on social media prompted Yale Athletics to apologize for its use of the Dartmouth programs, protest against the Redskins’ name and logo has never grown beyond a fringe movement. The Yale-Dartmouth program covers can be preserved because they are part of a history we wish we could forget but need to remember. The Redskins, on the other hand, are part of the present.

This is 2016: yesterday the United States recognized a holiday to celebrate Christopher Columbus, a man whose actions as Hispaniola’s colonial governor wiped out 250,000 indigenous Taino in just over 50 years.

This is 2016, and we still have a football team called the Redskins.

Money talks. It is time for a star player to take a stand and refuse to don a jersey marked with a racist name and an equally racist logo. If that doesn’t happen, the Redskins will be the Redskins forever. In that case, I strongly advocate for the team changing its mascot to a hot potato. Only then is the term “redskin” OK.

Noah Asimow is a senior in Davenport College. Contact him at noah.asimow@yale.edu .

  • Pamela

    Every experience in past helps building a present and future.
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  • ShadrachSmith

    Your premise: the past is only prologue to Noah telling us what to do. Can we talk about that?

  • sigmondtheseamonster

    This agenda is a platform to condition average Americans to the beginnings of censorship in America. What better way to promote a dialogue into homes with little or no education (or the interest in US Laws and Politics) about Freedom of Speech than via a sports team mascot? It is a brilliant idea but apparently the average American is not taking the bait on the issue, despite countless attempts for it to gain traction. This push will not end with “Redskins”, “Chief Wahoo”, “Chiefs” etc, it is the slippery slope we have all been warned about will happen in a society, once the door is cracked open.
    We have only to look as far as the US Patriot Act to see the damages done to US Freedoms and Liberties.
    America is now ranked around 21st in the world for its democracy since 9-11. But no politician or Media outlet discusses that fact. Probably out of embarrassment or intimidation not to challenge those in power who find democracy “obsolete” in a Corporate society.

    • Normandie Kent

      Native Americans need to be respected by the colonial invader hordes who populate their homelands. America has no real patriots, because the colonial invaders have no real blood ties to the soil. Native Americans are the only race in the USA who send their people to war in the most numbers. The European inhabitants have no culture or history that is truely of these lands, unlike the Native people who are the only ethnic Americans , and the only real American race. Unlike the invasive European , African, and Asian races. European Anericans are usurpers to the throne, and they know it, the indigenous people know that they are of royal blood. This is why White, Black or Asian clamour for any Native blood, even to go as far as to lie , and will cling to their family myth of Cherokee Blood . This is where that Washington Redskin poll comes from, 90% comes from White and Black wannabes who think they can talk for real Native Americans, while the10% comes from actual Native people.