Eni Faleomavaega discusses ‘Redskins’ on House Floor

(Via C-SPAN video)
(Via C-SPAN video)

I know, not again. But I do believe any time a D.C. sports team is discussed for five minutes on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, it’s worth a brief mention by a D.C. sports blog.

And so, here is an excerpt of a speech delivered on that floor by Eni F.H. Faleomavaega — American Samoa’s non-voting delegate to the House — Wednesday morning. See the video below.

“Mr. Speaker, it’s time the National Football League and the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, face the reality that the continued use of the word ‘Redskin’ is unacceptable. It is a racist, derogatory term, and patently offensive to Native Americans. The Native American community has spent millions of dollars over the past two decades trying earnestly to fight the racism that is perpetuated by this slur.

“The fact that the NFL and commissioner Goodell continue to deny this is a shameful treatment of the mistreatment of Native Americans for so many years. It is quite obvious that once the American public understands why ‘Redskins’ is so offensive, it will know that the word should never be used again….

“Recently I and nine members of Congress explained the violent history and disparaging nature of the term Redskins in a letter to Mr. Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington football franchise. Similar letters were also sent to Mr. Frederick Smith, President and CEO of FedEx — a key sponsor of the franchise — and to Mr. Roger Goodell, commissioner of the National Football League. As of today, Mr. Snyder has not yet responded. Mr. Smith ignored our letter as well, opting instead to have a staff member cite ‘contractual obligations’ as FedEx’s reason for silence on the subject.

“Mr. Goodell, however, in a dismissive manner, declared that the team’s name is a ‘unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect. Give me a break, Mr. Speaker. In other words, the National Football League is telling everyone, Native Americans included, that they cannot be offended because the NFL means no offense. It is absolute absurdity. And I yield back.”

Dan Steinberg writes about all things DC sports at the DC Sports Bog.
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Dan Steinberg | July 10, 2013