UCC General Synod calls on Washington NFL team to change name, logo
After passionate debate, the General Synod of the United Church of Christ passed a resolution calling on the Washington franchise and the National Football League to change the football team’s racially-offensive name and imagery. The vote took place during plenary on Monday, June 29.
“I am not a Redskin, I am not a mascot, that is not an honor,” said Toni Buffalo, chairperson of the UCC Council for American Indian Ministry (CAIM), whose Native American name is Brave Flying Women. “I am a survivor of the genocide that has been committed against my people in the United States of America for the last 500 years. Do not tell me you’re honoring me when you’re cheering for that team.”
The resolution, proposed by the Central Atlantic Conference of the UCC, also calls on the members of the denomination to boycott all of the team’s games—eight at home, and eight of which are on the road in other cities (two games in the New York area, Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Philadelphia and Dallas)—and team merchandise bearing the nickname and logo until they are changed.
John Pawloski, a delegate from the Illinois South Conference, was in favor of the sentiment of the resolution, but criticized its lack of scope and vision because it did not target the television networks that broadcast the games, which he said can bring about the most change.
“If this resolution was serious in achievable change, it would target the television networks and airways that broadcast the games,” he said.
Marjorie Deaner, a delegate from the Penn West Conference who is a fan of the team, said that she finds it offensive that anyone would think that the owners, players, and fans of Washington’s team would intentionally insult any person or nationality.
“When I cheer for those Redskins, I am so proud of that image because, to me, that’s a winning image,” Deaner said. “I want to go out there and say, ‘Yay Redskins,’ because I’m proud of you and that image.”
“I have loved that team through championship years and losing seasons,” said the Rev. Emily Heath, senior pastor of the Congregational Church in Exeter, N.H., in support of the resolution. “But I no longer say their name or wear their merchandise. I’m ashamed to love a team with that name.”
UCC leadership and CAIM representatives talked to the news media after the vote.
“While U.S. race relations have changed and this denigrating language is no longer acceptable to Americans, stereotypical notions and ideas have been embedded in U.S. culture for hundreds of years,” said the Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo, a UCC national officer. “The UCC will continue to journey in solidarity with our Native American brothers and sisters until this part of our body of humanity is honored and respected.”
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