KU professor says Washington NFL team name change ‘long-overdue, welcome’

Published: Jul. 18, 2020 at 4:54 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A University of Kansas professor says the Washington NFL team name change is “long-overdue and welcome.”

The Washington, D.C., NFL team said Monday, July 13, it would retire the name “Redskins” and the accompanying logo, following increased pressure in recent weeks to end the use of a world that is defined in most dictionaries as a racial slur against Native Americans. It says while the team has not announced a new name, it has said it will be in effect for the upcoming season.

Sarah Deer, University of Kansas professor in the Department of Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies and in the School of Public Affairs & Administration says the change is long-overdue and welcome.

Team owner Dan Snyder said repeatedly in the past the team would never change its name, but the announcement came following warning from FedEx, Pepsi and other large sponsors that they would end their relationship with the team if the name was not changed.

Deer says she is a citizen of the Muscogee Nation of Oklahoma and despite the impetus for the change, the time had come.

“While it’s somewhat disappointing that the decades of Native activism against this racist team name failed to accomplish what shareholders were able to do in a matter of a few short weeks, this is a welcome and long-overdue change for our nation,” Deer said. “I look forward to learning about the new name and mascot.”

Deer says she is a lawyer by training and an advocate in practice, she studies the intersection of federal Native American law and victims’ rights. Deer says she has written four textbooks on tribal law as well as “The Beginning and End of Rape: Confronting Sexual Violence in Native America,” which won the Best First Book award from the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association. She says her work has also been published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Gender, the Yale Journal of Law & Feminism and the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law. Deer also says she has testified before Congress four times regarding violence against Native women.

KU says Deer is a 2014 McArthur Fellow and a 2020 Carnegie Fellow.

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