For the passed couple of decades, Native American activists and advocacy groups have been campaigning for Washington D.C.'s NFL football team, The Redskins, to change its blatantly racist name and logo. Although there is a law that prohibits the trademarking of offensive racial terms, all law suits, legal fights, and canvassing have been unfairly ineffective.
However, more recently, the battle has gained the national attention it deserves after a California tribe bought airtime during Game 3 of the NBA finals on June 10th. The commercial entitled, "Proud To Be," aired during Super Bowl weekend and made wonderfully productive waves.
This morning, The United States Patent and Trademark Office ruled the name unlawfully "disparaging to Native Americans" and has therefore canceled six federal trademark registrations for the name of the Washington Redskins.
"The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board agreed with our clients that the team’s name and trademarks disparage Native Americans. The Board ruled that the Trademark Office should never have registered these trademarks in the first place...We presented a wide variety of evidence – including dictionary definitions and other reference works, newspaper clippings, movie clips, scholarly articles, expert linguist testimony, and evidence of the historic opposition by Native American groups – to demonstrate that the word ‘redskin’ is an ethnic slur." (Think Progress)
This ruling represents a pivotal moment in American history; while it is a triumph for change, the appeal also reminds us that racism is rooted much deeper than we might expect, and in unexpected places. This is something that can no longer be overlooked.