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FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland

NCAI, Former FCC Commissioners Call on FedEx to Cut Ties With 'Redskins'

Simon Moya-Smith
6/27/14

On Tuesday, the National Congress of American Indians sent a letter to FedEx CEO Fredrick W. Smith encouraging him to dissolve his company’s relationship with the Washington Redskins on the grounds that the team name is pejorative and that by using it the team continues to honor the legacy of a segregationist.

“We are asking for you to help us stop Washington’s NFL football team from using FedEx’s name to endorse a dictionary-defined racial slur and promoting the legacy of the infamous segregationist who decided to use this slur to brand the team,” the letter reads. “At FedEx field, your company is allowing its iconic brand to be used as a platform to promote the R-word – a racist epithet that was screamed at Native Americans as they were dragged at gunpoint off their lands.”

The “infamous segregationist” mentioned in the letter is former team owner George Preston Marshall, who is remembered for his long refusal to include African Americans on his team’s roster. The lower level of FedEx field is named for Mr. Marshall.

The letter, signed by representatives of the Oneida Indian Nation and United Church of Christ, was sent to Smith after the U.S. patent office declared last week the team name is “disparaging to Native Americans” and cancelled six of its federally protected trademarks.

Following that landmark decision, individual Native Americans and former Federal Communication Commission officials are again calling on the FCC to reconsider the use of the name during broadcasts.

In a letter sent to Snyder earlier this year, former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt, former Commissioners Jonathan Adelstein and Nicholas Johnson argue that an indecency case could be made against broadcasters who air the disparaging word on the air, Politico reported.

“It is impermissible under law that the FCC would condone, or that broadcasters would use, obscene pornographic language on live television,” the letter, obtained by Politico, reads. “This medium uses government owned airwaves in exchange for an understanding that it will promote the public interest. Similarly, it is inappropriate for broadcasters to use racial epithets as part of normal, everyday reporting.”

Hundt spoke to Indian Country Today Media Network and said that the FCC should reevaluate whether or not Snyder is “fit” to have licenses from the FCC. By “fit,” Hundt said he means “a person of appropriate character.”

“The FCC should consider whether Mr. Snyder is fit to own radio station licenses given that he uses radio stations to broadcast an ethnic slur,” he said. “These licenses are owned by the public and they are given to individuals for the purpose of serving the public interest. The FCC does not give radio station licenses to felons; it doesn’t give radio station licenses to people of bad character. Historically, [the FCC] has been reluctant to give broadcast licenses to people who advocate racially intolerant positions.”

Hundt added that it’ll take financial pressure for Snyder to change the team name and that Native Americans should petition the FCC to reconsider the use of the slur on broadcast radio and television.

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bullbear's picture
bullbear
Submitted by bullbear on
FedEx CEO, Fred Smith, makes it very clear that he has financial interest in the Washington Redsk*ns and is not about to take any action that detracts from Dan Snyder's commitment to NEVER change the name. It's time for FedEx to start looking for another CEO. I said, "FedEx needs a new CEO!" One that will have no biases or prejudices. Smith says he has no dog in the fight, but he has already picked whose side he is on and it sure is not the one that stands for equality, fairness and without prejudice. Its a case of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, but forgot where his salary comes from, not to mention all the perks.

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
Good try on the part of Change.org, but I think this is going nowhere. The CEO of FedEx says "he doesn't have a dog in the fight," but his stadium is the home of the Washington team. To top it all off, he's also got a stake as a shareholder in the team. It's been my experience that rich, White men will "circle their wagons" to protect their antiquated notion of what America is all about.
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