The Washington Post reports today an unusual courageous stance by a public official (http://wapo.st/1IUP7Em). The lease on Fed Ex stadium does not expire for 12 years but the governors of Maryland and Virginia are already in a race to lure Dan Snyder and the team to their jurisdications. Both governors have stated that the offensive name is acceptable. In contrast, the District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Boswer is sticking by her previous position when she was a member of the City Council. The District of Columbia Council had passed a resolution urging Mr. Snyder to change the name of the team. When asked if the name of the team needs to be changed for her to consider a new stadium for the team in the District, Mayor Bowser said, "I've called on them - just like a lot of people around the city to change the name." We applaud Mayor Bowser's leadership and urge the Maryland and Virginia governors to take a similar stance. While jurisidictions often think they are the servants to owners of professional teams, they are actually their masters. Mr. Snyder would not have access to the lucrative DC market if the jurisdictions do not play ball and allow him to use a stadium on their turf. By saying "no ballgame" unless he does right by Native Americans, the jurisdictions would be setting an important example that human dignity and respect is more important than first downs and touchdowns. It would continue a proud tradition in the DC area and follow the example of the Kennedy administration that threatened to ban George Preston Marshall, former owner of the team, from using Griffifth stadium until he integrated the team.
As reported previously, Montgomery County, MD will not use the name of the professional football team in official county communication and the county council will be considering a resolution urging the owner to change the name. We need other counties and elected bodies to do the same! Rebrand Washington Football continued its advocacy and sent letters to Prince George's County and Arlington County. Prince George's could be a hard sell because Fed Ex Field is located there. Yet, we will not be cowered and wrote the county asking them to do the right thing. More than one week later, Rebrand Washington Football has not heard from a single county councilmember or board member from either of the two counties. We need this situation to change and that is why it is important that constituents write letters asking for a change of the name. You can find the contact information of members of Prince George's county here: http://www.princegeorgescountymd.gov/sites/countycouncil/Pages/default.aspx and Arlington County here: http://countyboard.arlingtonva.us/county-board-members/. A copy of our letter is here:
Mr. Snyder fancies himself a beneficent philanthropist. The Washington Post reports (http://wapo.st/1NLkKn1) that his Original Americans Foundation has spent millions of dollars on 220 projects with 50 tribes. On closer inspection, however, Mr. Snyder is a colonial master, using the oldest tricks in the book to divide and conquer tribes. The article further reports that the Paiute, Navajo, Zuni, and Cree tribes have had internal divisions and clashes regarding the name of the Washington professional football team. Moreover, the foundation projects mentioned in the article reveal a complete misunderstanding of community and economic development. The article mentions the foundation providing vans, shoes, coats, and playgrounds to the tribes. All nice things, but do any of these gifts promote job creation and economic development? If the foundation was serious, it would finance affordable housing, mixed use development, and small business start-ups and expansions. It would engage experts in the affordable housing and economic development field who would plan revitalization projects with the tribes. The efforts are not genuine economic development. They are simply divide and conquer. As one Native American puts it, "If the tribe accepts the gift, it lends the veneer of support...The strings attached are your dignity." If Mr. Snyder was sincere, he would change the name of his team and engage in real community development efforts through his foundation.
Josh Silver is one of the founders of RWF and is a life time fan that wants the name changed!