Bill Fletcher Jr.ColumnistsOp-EdOpinion

Getting Rid of Shanahan and the ‘Redskins’ Name


By Bill Fletcher, Jr.

NNPA Columnist


I was not at all surprised that the Washington Redskins canned Coach Mike Shanahan.  Three losing seasons over four years does not make for career advancement.  So, on to next season, I guess. Yet, I found myself wondering, once again, why it seems so easy for the owners of the Washington football team to make any number of changes except the one that might actually make a difference for their future:  change their name.

Most recently, team owner Daniel Snyder supposedly wanted to convince an increasingly skeptical public about his alleged concerns for Native Americans.  Visiting Native Americans and getting a better sense of their miserable conditions was a noble move, but it does not make up for the recurring insult to Native Americans by his refusal to change his team’s name.  It almost reminds me of someone talking bad about my mother while having a smile on their face.

Please understand that it is important that Snyder and other members of the wealthy classes of the U.S. get a better understanding of the horrendous conditions experienced by Native Americans.  It would be especially useful for Snyder and his colleagues to study a little history to gain an appreciation of the genocide and marginalization experienced by Native Americans.  But it is also important that Snyder, understand that the problem is not one that exists only in the past; there are continuing violations of the humanity of Native Americans.  The exposure to and repetition of racist insults against Native Americans is illustrative of this pattern of continuing violations.

So, after another losing season perhaps Snyder, might consider that this may be the time for a really big change. Perhaps this is an opportunity for Snyder, to begin to face the ramifications of a history of very real and criminal actions perpetrated against a very real portion of humanity.

Until this happens, I hope that the Washington football team keeps losing.


Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum, and the author of “They’re Bankrupting Us” – And Twenty Other Myths about Unions.  Follow him on Facebook and at

Bill Fletcher Jr.

Bill Fletcher Jr has been an activist since his teen years. Upon graduating from college he went to work as a welder in a shipyard, thereby entering the labor movement. Over the years he has been active in workplace and community struggles as well as electoral campaigns. He has worked for several labor unions in addition to serving as a senior staffperson in the national AFL-CIO. Fletcher is the former president of TransAfrica Forum; a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies; an editorial board member of; and in the leadership of several other projects. Fletcher is the co-author (with Peter Agard) of “The Indispensable Ally: Black Workers and the Formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, 1934-1941”; the co-author (with Dr. Fernando Gapasin) of “Solidarity Divided: The crisis in organized labor and a new path toward social justice“; and the author of “‘They’re Bankrupting Us’ – And Twenty other myths about unions.” Fletcher is a syndicated columnist and a regular media commentator on television, radio and the Web.

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