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