On Sunday, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law that will officially ban public schools and athletic teams from using the word “Redskins” as a team or mascot name. The move is a lovely gesture, just in time for Columbus Day—a holiday that traditionally celebrates the slaughter of Native Americans—and it shows actual progress in the way the U.S. regards indigenous populations, even if that progress is decades past due.
The law will go into effect on January 1, 2017, and will only affect four schools that use the mascot (as well as any that might feel the impulse to make their mascot more racist than it already is). The measure will also allow schools a grace period in which schools may still use old uniforms and gear to lessen the cost of transitioning.
NBC News reports:
The state Assembly overwhelmingly approved the California Racial Mascots Act in May, about a month before the Obama administration went on record telling the Washington Redskins that they would have to change their name before they would be allowed to move to a stadium in Washington, D.C., from their current home in suburban Maryland...
The U.S. Patent Office agreed last year that the nickname is “disparaging of Native Americans” andcanceled the Washington pro football team’s federal trademark protection.
“This landmark legislation eliminating the R-word in California schools clearly demonstrates that this issue is not going away, and that opposition to the Washington team on this issue is only intensifying,” said Oneida Indian Nation rep Ray Halbritter and National Congress of American Indians Executive Director Jackie Pata in a joint statement.
“The NFL should act immediately to press the team to change the name.”
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