BANGOR – For almost 90 years, the Washington Redskins name has represented an inebriated majority that boos and cheers with every interception and touchdown, unaware to the suffering the logo has inflicted on others.
After corporate sponsor, FedEx, demanded the name be retired, the organization bit. The Washington Redskins will be no more.
“How long do we have to tolerate these images and these names? They’re painful and they’re hurtful,” David Slagger, a Maliseet tribe member, said.
“Nobody wants it to be defined by the color of their skin. Who does? Nobody that I know,” he added.
Slagger is a Mainer and former member of the Maine House of Representatives, he’s preaching perspective.
“If I was to say to someone, ‘I really think you’re a good representative of this group of people and I’m starting a soccer team and I want to call it the ‘Bangor Whiteskins,’ when I say that to people they grimace just like you did,” Slagger said.
“They go ‘oh Whiteskin that’s just so offensive,’ but Redskin is okay,” he said.
“I think it would be awful, but I think it would give people a taste of their own medicine,” Bangor resident, Suzanne Kelly, said.
When given a picture of the Redskins logo, Kelly and Bangor resident, Robert Ingalls, both felt the image was offensive.
“10 years ago I wouldn’t have thought that was offensive because I’m a football fan I’m 81 years old and I don’t miss many games, but I do find it offensive now,” Ingalls said.
“I don’t have a necessary opinion about the picture as much as its association,” Kelly said. “If you know the initial derivation of that, it’s an insensitive way to attribute to a broad group of people,” she added.
Bangor resident, Gary Brown, shared a different perspective.
“Why it offends them absolutely not I have no idea why that would offend them. As far as a decision goes we all know it’s money driven,” Brown said.
“I see an Indian chief that shows respect for what the Indian people stood for you know to me it looks very respectful it’s not a savage type look or anything like that very respectful photo,” Brown added.
It’s a discussion that’s been ongoing and has been addressed in the state. In 2019, Gov. Mills signed an order banning Native American mascots in all public schools, becoming the first state in the country to do so.
Agree or disagree, understand or don’t understand, discussion has started. It’s how Maine became a pioneer in this very topic. For Slagger, it’s how America can reach a point where it can enjoy a game of pig skin and be respectful at the same time.
“The only way that you’re going to get past that is to have dialogue with both sides and I think if you start off with it not being painful not to intentionally inflict pain on a group of people that’s a good start,” he said.