Robert D. Manfred Jr., Commissioner
245 Park Avenue, 31st Floor
New York, NY 10167
Dear Commissioner Rob Manfred:
We write you this letter as members of Rebrand Washington Football. We are lifelong fans of DC sports, advocating a name change for our hometown football team. We are in the belief that misappropriation of Native American culture must end for all athletic organizations.
The summer of 2018 is a joyous time for DC sports. We captured our first Stanley Cup title. We have a World Series caliber baseball club. A gleaming soccer stadium will open just days before we host the MLB All Star game. All Star week will showcase the treasures of the District’s Anacostia Waterfront Initiative, a revitalization effort that has flourished since the opening of Nationals Park. The only potential weak spot in our All Star lineup is the mascot duo which the Cleveland and Atlanta baseball teams will bring to town.
Each day Major League Baseball honors the sacrifice and selflessness of Jackie Robinson, and July 17th will be no exception. The 42 logo has been a proud fixture in every MLB ballpark for over 20 years, as standard an item as the American flag in the outfield. Sadly, we complicate Jackie’s legacy when we dishonor America’s Indigenous peoples with war whoops and tomahawk chops. The Cleveland and Atlanta franchises hopelessly misrepresent Native Americans, which is problematic to all people. The aforementioned team names demote American Indians to less than human status, while the logos and crowd chants portray Native people as imaginary and extinct beings from a previous century. While we applaud efforts to reduce the presence of Chief Wahoo, a demotion from the gameday roster isn’t enough. The very real consequences of racism will continue to fester until the names and imagery of both clubs are struck out.
In our advocacy for changing the name of Washington’s NFL team, we have met Native American parents who struggle with anger and disgust when attempting to explain to their children why sports teams use stereotypical names, symbols, and chants, which belittle indigenous cultures. Indeed the American Psychological Association released findings in 2005 calling for the permanent discontinuance of Native American themed mascots. The decision was based on a large body of scientific research which concluded that such mascots are harmful.
The best way for MLB to honor Native American people is to stop mocking them with mascots. All Star week in the Nation’s Capitol would be an ideal time to break old habits and start new traditions. Let’s nurture the game by honoring Jackie Robinson’s hard work and determination to realize equality in sport. We look forward to your reply. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ian Washburn, Arlington VA
Josh Silver, Bethesda MD
Bill Mosley, Washington DC