In 1996, I was a law school intern in the U.S. Department of Justice, working in the Educational Opportunities Section of the Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C. I had the honor to get to know Lawrence Baca, the first Native American lawyer hired by the Civil Rights Division. In 2012, he became the first Native American to receive the American Bar Association’s prestigious Thurgood Marshall Award.
Over lunch one day, he told me about his background and some of his experiences as a Native American. As an example of the discrimination Native Americans experience, he pointed to the name of Washington’s National Football League team, the Redskins, and told me how offensive that name was to him. That was in 1996. Seventeen years later, the NFL commissioner has the gall to tell the Congressional Native American Caucus that the word was not meant to offend. Really?
As Leonard Pitts points out (June 17), the word “was never neutral.” The name of the D.C. football franchise should be changed immediately.